Houdini: Poly Rembrandt pt. I

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Free Tutorials

Hello people from the internet! Glad to be with you and finally be online. Can’t tell you how exciting the last weeks have been! Recording tutorials, making videos, testing equipment, getting all the web stuff up and running. Fun times indeed!

The first major block of tutorials for advanced CG will cover a beast of a tool: Houdini. Yes it can be daunting. Yes it can be a “ยง%/!$. Yes you always find surprises. But – I haven’t found another tool that gives you such in depth access to all things 3D. It is THE tool when building complex setups. It allows you to dive into CG at a level I haven’t seen before. It is awesome. Compare it to an aircraft carrier – it is a massive, frightening beast. But once you master it you’ve got a friggin’ aircraft carrier. Also it plays together very well with other 3D packages such as Cinema 4D for example.

The main thing I found out for myself that helped me when starting to learn Houdini was this: View it as a development tool for 3D tools, not as a 3D tool itself. It has (in certain areas) more in common with an IDE (don’t worry if you’re not sure what that means) than with any other 3D app such as Cinema 4D, Modo, XSI or Blender.

Another aspect hat I think will be helpful when working in Houdini is a sense for proceduralism or basic coding. Don’t worry, we’re gonna build that as well. However if you feel the drive to do some additional tutrials I highly recommend watching Daniel Shiffman’s introduction to processing. I know – it’s not Houdini. But it will give you a deeper understanding how coding works and most of the concepts are directly applicable in Houdini.

The first tutorial will give you a broad overview of what’s possible in Houdini, from setup to final rendering. The effect might be a bit dated, nevertheless we put a new twist on it by bringing it to a 3D space. Also this is highly modular, so you can go ahead and modify it to your needs. Hope you create amazing and fresh artwork using this technique.

I split this tutorial into different parts. The first three will give you the basic effect including rendering. Parts four and five will offer a quick glimpse into what’s possible when diving deeper into certain areas (VOPs or Vex Operators in this case) of Houdini.

Finally: Don’t let Houdini frustrate you. It is an amazing tool although it can be a bit rough when starting out. Don’t fret – we will manage it together. Have fun!

Download the project file here.

Other Parts

Part I: Basic Setup

Part II: Extrusions

Part III: Rendering

Part IV: Edge Detection Theory

Part V: Edge Detection Implementation

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  1. Great starting tutorial! Even with some Houdini experience there were a few nice nuggets in there. Keep it up!

  2. Julian Loscher

    Hey guys,
    just revisited this great one and wondered if you can think of a way to render the sharp primitive colors with redshift. As soon as I promote Cd to primitive the geo goes black. Apparently RS object parameter only transfers point attributes.. But since you guys are geniuses I thought it was worth asking.

    • Hi Julian,

      use an attribute promote SOP to transfer primitive colors to vertex colors, then in the redshift object parameters export the Cd-attribute (make sure to use the slot “vertex attributes”) and in the redshift shader network import the Cd attribute via an RS Vertex Attribute node. That should do it.

      Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Julian Loscher

        like I said.. GENIUSES ๐Ÿ˜‰ thank you Moritz

        • I have the feeling that it’s more a thing of stubbornness ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi! Very inspiring work!

    Can anyone though give advice on what would be the best way to make the grid divisions procedurally depend of the image resolution? There are Python scripts that let you get the resolution of an image file from disc, but I am not yet knowledgable of Python in Houdini enough, and there are vex iresx and iresy functions, but they are said to be COP-context specific. I haven’t gotten them to work in COPs yet, because COPs seem to work quite different to SOPs in this regard, and don’t know a good way to get this information into SOPs either, once I actually have it.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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