Advanced Asset Creation In Houdini FOR VFX And Games


Workshop Content Explained


  • Instructor : Saber Jlassi
  • Tools: Houdini 16.0 , Arnold 5.0, Unreal Engine 4
  • Duration: 7, 8 or 10 weeks
  • Difficulty : Advanced
  • Format: Recorded videos delivered weekly alongside assignment and video feedback.
  • Q&A: 40 min+ video recorded every week to answer questions and provide guidance.
  • Prerequisite:
    Comfortable working with Houdini sops.
    Very good 3D generalist background.
  • Note:  There is no scripting or programming in this course.


  • Start-Date: 27th January 2018
  • LIMITED Seats


Course Description

This course focuses on procedural creation of various complex rocks formations and environment assets in Houdini as well as procedurally creating textures using Houdini Cops.
We will be creating a vast number of assets and go through all the steps needed to make high quality model ready for production.
For this workshop I have created a custom pipeline that offers a variety of tools to speed up the workflow and emulate working in a real production.
The pipeline is fully written in python and we will dive into the design process and the benefits of doing this.
Then we will look at various techniques to create complex rocks formation, create lowres meshes from highres, varios setups to auto generate uvs, and bake all the data needed to render highres models in arnold and Unreal Engine 4.
Once we have all the assets shaded and ready we will start creating the layout for our environment and do various lighting scenario, and this process will be repeated in houdini and rendered in arnold and for Unreal Engine4.

This workshop contains lot more information and the weekly breakdown is just the highlights.
Arnold can used for free but it will have watermarks and It requires a license to render without them.
To properly use Arnold inside of Houdini it is required to have an educational(not apprentice) , Indie and or a full license of Houdini Core.
Houdini Indie license has a limitation that will make one step of the workflow a bit slower.
The course curriculum is still being finalized and may slightly change as we progress through the workshop.
Reel and or example work and hip files will be requested to verify that the student has all the prerequisite needed to fully understand the course content.

Rendered in Arnold

Final Environement running in unreal engine

Procedural Textures Preview

 Week1 –

  • Intro to arnold 5.0, ass format, instancing.
  • Intro to UnrealEngine workflow.
  • Render time subdivision Vs Heavy geometry
  • Designing the pipeline for the project
  • A look into the main requirements for a vfx pipeline
    Designing the pipeline.
  • Create a command-line tool that creates assets
    and generate hip files ready for production.
  • Installing the tools and the pipeline.
    Setting up the goal to be achieved.

Week2 —

  • Intro to cops in houdini
  • Intro to cops in houdini Advantage of using cops.
  • Create various procedural texture to be used in this project.
  • Create a tiling system that works with any noise or patterns in Houdini

Week3 —

  • Intro to Houdini terrain tools.
  • Using terrain tool as a visualizer for noise patterns.
  • Creating bricks and learning how to mix various height fields.
  • Creating various displacement maps to add details to rocks.
  • Extending the terrain tools to generate colors.

Week4 —-

  • Intro to volumes in Houdini.
  • What’s an SDF and how to manipulate volumes in Houdini.
  • How to use noise and procedural patterns to create rocks.
  • Combine Voronoi fracture, Vdb and noise to generate complex patterns.
  • Create various rocks, cliffs, walls with bricks using the previously learned techniques.
  • Utilize the pipeline scripts to generate all the necessary data to emulate working in a production environment.

Week5 —–

  • Learn how to create more complex rocks formation and patterns.
  • Extending our setups to add variation to individual rock and patterns.
  • Combining vdb volumes and 3d geometry with terrain tool to create more realistic patterns and erosions that we see in rocks.
  • Create various 3D assets combing 3D geometry and terrain tools.

Week6 ——

  • Create low-res mesh for displacement extraction.
  • Create a houdini setup to generate perfect UVS for complex meshes.
  • Texture baking in Houdini using mantra.
  • Displace the lowres rock using the extracted maps to match the highres mesh.
  • Intro to shading in arnold 5.0
  • Learn all about LUTS and openimageio and how to get the realistic film looking renders.
  • Shading hero rocks element using procedural texture previously created,
  • add extra displacement details using displacement maps created in  week2.
  • create interesting material mixing using Normals, Position and curvature
  • Go through all the assets and shade them using procedural texture and attributes previously stored in the mesh to create more variation.

 Week7 ——-

  • Gather all the assets created and import them into our scene to start creating layouts.
  • Instancing in arnold, adding rotation, scale, and shader variation to instances.
  • Create various layouts using the assets previously created.
  • Iterate over couple of assets to create new version that we can easily stream into our layout scene utilizing the convention feature previously created.
  • Refine the day light lightrig.

 Week8 ——–

  • Create a much more complex night time lighting.
  • Setup all the passes.
  • Learn how to use arnold 5 aovs.
  • Create various atmosphere FX using vdb volumes.
  • Learn how to shade volumes in arnold 5.

 Week9 ———

  • Create lowres geometry for all the highres asset.
  • Create UVs for all the assets to transfer them to unreal.
  • Generate all the maps needed for unreal.

Week10 ———-

  • Transfer everything to unreal.
  • Shade all the rock assets.
  • Create a complex rock shader.
  • Create the environment layout.
  • Create a day light lighting.
  • Create a nighttime lighting.
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