I technically started this project a long time ago when I built a 3D skeleton arm and hand rig, but I didn't know what to do with it at the time. So it collected some digital dust on my hard drive until I found the right inspiration for it here in this animation.

I wanted to test out the Redshift Toon Shader plugin from You & Me Academy, and I really like how it worked. It allowed me to develop a cell shading look within 3D, which is more my speed than trying to do it by hand. The lighting affects everything in the scene evenly and respect their orientation to your light source. So in this scene where I have thousands and thousands of basketballs, I can get consistent lighting very quickly while using the power of MoGraph cloners. It casts the right lighting and shadows across various 3D objects and stays true to the light source and the shader settings inside the material.
The hand is rigged with some basic pose morphs, it didn't need joints or anything special just some basic rotations to unfurl and end in the final pointing position to spin the ball. The morph effect was actually pretty easy, I just spun the ball to get some motion blur going, plus the trails overlay effect to offer a little diversion, and then used a Spherify deformer on the skull so that it rounded fully into a sphere and then dialed down the strength until it was back to being a normal skull shape.
The smoke effect was actually what I spent the most time on. I have been toying with EmberGen to do fluid effects and I was going back and forth forever trying to create this realistic-looking smoke blast and have it be volumetric in my scene OR use some stylization effects and have it be not realistic at all but pretty cool inside After Effects. Well eventually I got the best of both worlds, I kind of fell backwards into a setup I really liked to create the cartoony looking smoke effect inside Cinema 4D. I loaded the attempts at a rather realistic looking smoke effect into a Volume Loader and then meshed it and I applied the toon shader and viola, it has the depth and motion of 3D fluids but the style of something more 2D.

I like building these sims in EmberGen but I find the amount of system resources and quest for a high detail looking VDB to be exhausting, it's hard in my opinion to get a great render and not have it take a week to do a frame (on my setup at least). By doing the toon look I saved a ton of system resources, I could do a really low density VDB and it looked perfectly good as a skinned volume in this style. 

The explosion triggers some Cinema 4D dynamics for the debris, I worked to get it impacting the camera and added the camera shake as well to make it feel more powerful.
The compositing effects in After Effects are all pretty standard in effort to dial in the final look. I could decide on a warm or cold color palette so I said "why not both" and have the explosion alter the colors. I dropped the frame rate a bit to make it look a little more toon style. 
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