Learning Houdini Journal 15: Procedural Vehicle Modeling

Feb 24, 2016 at 10:34 pm by -gToon

This is the fifteenth 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 14, I finished the Introduction to Houdini 15 course from pluralsight.com. The instructor, John Moncrief, has just the right pace for the course. I learned almost all of the basic elements of Houdini: the interface, node network, modeling, dynamics and more. I feel like I've gotten a good start with Houdini. Now it's time to move on to another tutorial. This time, I'll be focusing more on modeling and animation.

procedural vehicle modeling in houdini course

This training demonstrates how to use Houdini to create a parametric vehicle. Over the course of this training we will see how to use Houdini's basic polygon modeling techniques to create a fully controllable and procedural Vehicle model and also set up all the various parameters required to control and animate the vehicle. -Rohan Dalvi

Just as I was finishing up the pluralsight course, a favorite instructor, Rohan Dalvi, released a new training video, "Procedural Vehicle Modeling in Houdini". It's a bit more advanced than the Intro Course, but I really like Rohan's training videos and it's exactly what I want to learn. Plus, the end result is pretty cool. Here's his trailer for the course.

Procedural Vehicle Modeling - Trailer from Rohan Dalvi on Vimeo.

The course is 21 chapters long with 14 of the chapters devoted to building the bus. The rest of the lessons are on animation, controls, lighting and rendering. Mr. Dalvi provides all of the completed files as part of the package. All told the course is just under 4 hours long and costs $36 for everything. A good price for the excellent training Mr. Dalvi provides.

If you are interested, be sure to check Rohan Dalvi's website where he has additional Houdini training available.

Getting used to the pace and a new workspace

Right from the start, Rohan Dalvi's teaching style is very different from John Moncrief at pluralsight. Mr. Dalvi is much faster moving through each step of modeling the front of the bus. This forced me to stop the video a lot more in order to take notes. Actually, I found that watching the video first without having Houdini open works much better because then I'm already familiar with what the lesson covers.

One of the first things I noticed in starting this training was that Mr. Dalvi's Houdini workspace was laid out much differently than the default workspace we used in the Intro course.

Dalvi workspace

As you can see, he splits the network and parameters panes so that they occupy the middle and right sections of the Houdini interface. It took me awhile to get the default workspace to look like this, but once I read through the manual and experimented a little, I understood that Houdini is extremely flexible in how it's workspace can be arranged. I like this layout a lot.

While researching the workspace in Houdini, I spent an hour or so just re-arranging the interface to see how it was done. While netsurfing, I came across an interesting layout: "The Creation Desk - a custom UI currently being used by MA Digital Effects, and the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University for teaching Houdini." This layout is very interesting and the website (created by instructor Philip Spicer) makes the workspace freely available for any artist. The site also provides detailed instructions on how to set the workspace up.

I'm going to stay with Mr. Dalvi's workspace for now, but I did set up The Creation Desk and stored it as a custom workspace for the future.

Next: Modeling the bus front basic

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