BlurryPixel shows how to create fantastic particle effects using Trapcode ParticularParticle Playground… wait…what?! – Yes, old-school particle playground that has shipped with After Effects for a long while now. This is interesting because BlurryPixel is getting some great effects by using Particle Playground’s ability to use displacement maps… and it’s a nifty low cost solution for this effect if you don’t have Trapcode Particular.
Check out the Creating Particle Effects with Particle Playground in After Effects Tutorial here.

BlurryPixel notes on the tutorial: “So here is my first tutorial on Blurrypixel using an often overlooked particle effect in After Effects, Particle Playground. Which takes a bit of effort to learn compared to the plethora of turnkey particle generators out there, but I think it’s a good start for a tutorial since it encapsulates so much of digital compositing. So even though you might be saying, “I can make this effect happen in Particular in 5 minutes,” keep in mind there’s always another 90% out there.”