Learning Houdini Journal 08: Shaders and Rendering
Staff Writer By: Ricky Grove (gToon)
This is the eighth entry of what will be a year-long journal on learning the 3D application Houdini, created by Side Effects Software. Houdini is a sophisticated application that is widely used in the production of visual effects for Hollywood films such as Big Hero 6, Mad Max: Fury Road and many others.
In my previous Learning Houdini Journal 7, I talked about learning the materials and shader system in Houdini 15. I had only begun to create material groups for the 3 parts of the race-car I was working in via Pluralsight.com "Introduction to Houdini 15" course taught by the very talented John Moncrief. In this journal I continue the learning process until my car is finished with materials and shaders and I've set up the scene I'll be animating.
The Four Generic Shaders
Houdini provides 4 generic shaders in the application: Displacement, Mantra surface, Principled and Surface Mode shaders. The Principled shaders are new to Houdini 15 and were designed specifically for artists: they are easy to use and yet there are enough controls to create excellent shaders for practically every kind of material. John Moncrief, the tutor in the course I'm following, is especially good an explaining the shader system.
In my last journal, I had wondered why Houdini 15 came with so few materials compared to other 3D applications. Now I know why: it's so easy to create your own shader from scratch, which is what I did for the chrome shader. Starting with a generic oxidized steel shader, I was able, by following instructions, to create a bright, brushed metal look by adjusting only three elements of the shader: color, reflection and roughness. Pretty neat! Now I know that it's possible to simply make your own shaders for whatever materials you need for your scene.
Render Viewer & Render View
Rendering in Houdini is fast, but that's also because I have a high-end GPU in my workstation (NVIDIA Titan X), I would think Sidefx would probably have spent a lot of time making the rendering as quick as they can. Still, it seems (at this point in my learning curve) that the Houdini rendering is not quite as robust as other renderers I've used. But we'll see how this idea holds up in several months when I've rendered a lot more projects.
Merging New Geometry
I really enjoyed the materials/shader section of the tutorial and feel like a have a bit of a knack for this part of the Houdini 15 workflow. It will be fun to start making my own shaders in the future.
Next: On to animating the race-car in Houdini 15