Production Setup Walkthrough: Color Dust Explosion

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Happy holidays everyone! After my planned snow globe tutorial turned more into a disgusting alien egg thingy, I decided to instead dig out a production setup I did a while ago, doing the (very) popular dustsplosion.

Being late to the party is my personal special trick – but hey at least I managed to finally do a colored explosion too. This is a combination of various particle and smoke simulations, all rendered in Redshift.

This tutorial is a bit different in that it is a walkthrough through an existing setup, so we’re spending more time on setting up parameters and variations of individual simulations than building an individual technique from scratch. Let us know in the comments if that’s something we should consider doing more often.

00:19 – Emitter Setup
02:15 – Building The Main Particle Sim
03:21 – Emitting Particles From Particles
04:55 – Making Our Sim behave Organically
09:09 – Recap: Our Archetiypical Particle Setup
10:02 – Adding Detail Through Additional Particles
13:52 – Setting Up The Smoke Emitter
16:54 – Creating The Smoke Sim
21:49 – Adding Yet Another Particle Sim
23:15 – Setting Up For Particle Rendering In Redshift
27:50 – Setting Up Pyro Sims for Rendering
30:00 – Quickie: Hints on Redshift Rendering
33:20 – Happy Holidays!

Download Project File (.zip)

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    • Hm… you could export the particles via alembic and the pyro sim via VDB. But I can only highly recommend Redshift3D for Houdini GPU rendering. Very stable, very capable and very fast 🙂

      Cheers, Mo

  1. Arturo Cota

    Hi, thank you very much for sharing this !!

    I was wondering how I could solve the “Volume Rasterize Attributes” node with Houdini 16.5, I hope you can give a hint 🙂

    Happy Holiday ! =D

    • I’m stuck with the same issue. Does anyone know a work around? Thanks 🙂

    • Same here, working with 16.5, still fumbling with the other rasterize nodes trying to hack a workaround.

    • Heyhey,

      that’d be the old pre-17 workflow, using the fluid source SOP set to “Stamp Points” to generate the source volumes, which is then accessed by a source volume DOP inside DOPs. However I can only advise not to use this method as it:

      – Is a good bit slower
      – Doesn’t offer a clear way of generating custom fields
      – Is being replaced in H17

      Nevertheless – here’s a basic version of what this old volume sourcing would look like:


  2. Very enlightening. To answer your question: I love the single technique videos, but there’s a huge amount of value in this production setup analysis too – especially for one-man operations like me: learning how to “operate” Houdini is very do-able on your own, but one thing I can’t do, solo, is gain that experience you only get from watching an experienced artist/TD working on a real production setup. Being able to watch over your shoulder as you put this effect together is incredibly valuable. It’s the difference between learning in a classroom how an engine works, versus time working in a garage with a mechanic, seeing how they take the theory into practice. Many thanks, Moritz!

  3. loving the real production setup – thanks a lot for sharing Mo, more would be ace indeed :).

    • Thx for the feedback – will try and keep that in mind for future tuts 🙂

  4. Andy Hopper

    YES YES YES! We want more production techniques. The theory is great and important but it is also really valuable of knowing how to implement them in production.

  5. Thanks for the great tutorial and generally your website is an awesome resource!

    I was wondering if adding pressure in the pyro source actually affects the simulation? I am unable to see any difference but can’t find anything wrong with the setup. Thanks

    • Hi Yaniv,

      thanks for the question – I personally went the other route too and sourced divergence, which made a huge difference – worked way better than my initial presusre setup 🙂


  6. Josh Spivey

    Completely love this tutorial and it comes at a prime time for me personally as I have a project that needs something like this. I would love to have more of these production-level tutorials as well. It is sometimes very important to see how these techniques are built and to understand how long it might take to put something like this together. Not only is it nice to see what is possible, but how involved it is to get it done.

  7. I love you guys! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and being so well spoken. You are very smart and inspiring.

    I as well wanted to say how helpful this style lesson is. I think it is much more helpful in learning the whole process. I enjoy the other style too but this one is much more helpful and truly is amazing. I hope you do more like this one 🙂 thank you so much and I hope to be able to make such amazing things.


  8. Connor Nicholls

    How is the Source volume in 16.5 and volume Source in 17 different? As i can’t get the same results by messing around with the source volume.

  9. Hey guys was playing with this lately with collision as well and found that assigning a random pscale in the “main_sim” level will cause inaccurate and explosive(errant particles).

    As soon as I turned bypassed the secondary popwrangles in the dop (later in the video) and added an attrib randomafter the object merge. I was getting accurate collisions, but with a varied look!

    I hope this helps anyone else trying to change the dynamics of this cool setup.

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