First pass at a tendrily, magical type of fire. I wanted to try creating a type of fire that was detailed enough to look "real" but had a different character than the usual fires we are used to: gas, wood, etc.
The core of this fire is a single looping animation on a sprite. I added a "belch" of flame and small bits that break off of the main body of the fire for variation. I created all of these textures using Maya fluids with touch-ups in Photoshop and Premiere.
As the wireframe shows, these techniques allow for great detail and variation while keeping sprite counts and overdraw low.