Quick Tip: How to Create a Cartoon Style Big Bang Explosion


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Let's blow things up with a nice big boom in this this Quick Tip. Circles, triangles and a star shape create a bright explosion. This is a step-by-step tutorial for beginners. The icons from the inkscape toolbar are added to the images to make it easier to find the tool and function I am describing in the text. Let's begin!

Step 1

Start out with a circle and bring up the fill and stroke panel (Control + Shift + F). Select a radial gradient fill. Three additional marker will appear on you circle controlling the gradients center, height, width and rotation. Click on the square controller select a lighter red and then move it down and to the right while holding the mouse button down.

The off-set of the gradient center creates additional depth to the explosion as the lighter part will remain turned towards the center

Step 2

Duplicate the circle and change the gradient colors to orange and yellow.

Step 3

Select the red gradient circle and start duplicating it (Control + D) while changing size and rotation (keeping the lighter part turned towards the center).

Step 4

Repeat the process with the orange circle.

Step 5

And again with the yellow circle.

Step 6

Create two circles und combine them with the Path/Difference command to create the highlight. Select a light orange fill with 50% opacity.

Step 7

Duplicate, scale and rotate the 'moon shapes' as you place them on top of the circle. Adjust the color to a lighter orange or a red depending on the circles you place them on.

Step 8

Use the straight lines tool to draw an irregular star shape.

Step 9

Use the node modifier and select all the nodes. Convert them to curves. Now select just the inner nodes and turn the smooth. This effect will most likely overdo the desired rounding of the center and require some fiddling with the nodes.

Step 10

Adjust the nodes to create a spiky shape by manipulating the node handles to clear up overlapping. Duplicate the shape and scale it down (pressing Control while scale will lock the proportions). Due to the shape being uneven you might have to touch up the nodes to bring the smaller shape in line with the larger one.

Step 11

Place the flash ontop of the explosion's 'cloud shape'. Add some debris and motion trail shape with the straight line tool and adjust the order by moving some debris behind the explosion (Page Down).


Play with the color of the explosion and it's setup - by adding more circles or spreading them out differently - to find the right look and feel for your illustration.

Note: The tutorial works with some minor adjustments in other vector design programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These just use different icons, tool and command names, but the functionality is the same. I hope you've enjoyed this tut.