With the Houdini 17 party still going, let’s have a look at a somewhat hidden gem in H17’s tools: The UV-Layout SOP. “Wait! I don’t care about ’em UVs!” you might say. We hear you, but they are not really the focus of this tutorial. The very same tech underpinning decent UV layouts can be hijacked and used to pack something other than UV Islands. That’s right, we’re talking geometry packing!
It took us a bit by surprise, but it makes sense: The UV-Layout SOP can decently pack any piece of geometry into a (2D) bounding region. Be aware however that any 3D object’s outline will be projected onto a flat plane and used for packing. So not true 3D packing but a 2.5D solution in a way.
Here are some renderings created using this technique: