Houdini 16.5

Networks and parameters

How to use the network and parameter editors to work in Houdini.

Nodes are the building blocks of the scene. The Houdini scene is built from nodes organized in networks. Different network types control different parts of Houdini.

Using the shelf tools automatically creates nodes. For example, when you click the Box tool on the Create shelf tab, Houdini creates a new Geometry container object with a Box node inside. You can also create nodes manually in the network editor. This is how advanced work is often done in Houdini. Pressing ⇥ Tab in the network editor opens a menu of all nodes available in the current network type.

Some nodes can contain other nodes. For example, a Geometry Container object node lives at the scene level. It contains a network of surface nodes that define the geometry of the object. See node navigation for information on how you move inside and out of container nodes.

Each node in a network performs a specific function. In geometry, compositing, and CHOP networks, each node creates or modifies data passing through the node. At the scene level, nodes represent objects (such as props, bones, lights, and cameras) with transforms and parenting relationships. In the render network, nodes represent rendered outputs (images or animation), and links between the nodes define render dependencies.



  • Network editor

    How to create, move, copy, and edit nodes.

  • Network navigation

    How to move around the networks and move between networks.

  • Connecting (wiring) nodes

    How to connect nodes to each other to make them work together.

  • Network types and node flags

    Flags represent some state information on the node, such as which node represents the output of the network. Different network types have different flags.

  • Badges

    Badges indicate some status information about a node. They usually appear as a row of icons below the name of the node.

  • Find nodes in a network

    How to use the Find dialog to find nodes based on various criteria.

Editing parameters

Next steps


Guru level


Houdini 16.5

Getting started

Using Houdini

  • Geometry

    How Houdini represents geometry and how to create and edit it.

  • Copying and instancing

    How to use copies (real geometry) and instances (loaded or created at render time).

  • Animation

    How to create and keyframe animation in Houdini.

  • Character

    How to rig and animate characters in Houdini.

  • Rendering

    How to render images and animation from the 3D scene.

  • Materials

    How to assign materials and create custom materials for shading.

  • Compositing

    Houdini’s compositing networks let you create and manipulate images such as renders.

  • Digital assets

    Digital assets let you create reusable nodes and tools from existing networks.

  • Import and export

    How to get scene, object, and other data in and out of Houdini.

  • MPlay viewer

    Using Houdini’s stand-alone image viewer.


  • Particles

    How to create particle simulations.

  • Dynamics

    How to use Houdini’s dynamics networks to create simulations.

  • Pyro

    How to simulate smoke, fire, and explosions.

  • Fluids

    How to set up fluid and ocean simulations.

  • Grains

    How to simulate grainy materials (such as sand).

  • Crowd simulations

    How to create and simulate crowds of characters in Houdini.

  • Hair and Fur

    How to create, style, and add dynamics to hair and fur.

  • Finite Elements

    How to create and simulate deformable objects

  • Cloth

    How to create and simulate cloth and other flexible materials.


  • Object nodes

    Object nodes represent objects in the scene, such as character parts, geometry objects, lights, cameras, and so on.

  • Geometry nodes

    Geometry nodes live inside Geo objects and generate geometry.

  • Dynamics nodes

    Dynamics nodes set up the conditions and rules for dynamics simulations.

  • VOP nodes

  • Render nodes

    Render nodes either render the scene or set up render dependency networks.

  • Channel nodes

    Channel nodes create, filter, and manipulate channel data.

  • Compositing nodes

    Composite nodes create, filter, and manipulate image data.


  • Menus

    Explains each of the items in the main menus.

  • Viewers

    Viewer pane types.

  • Panes

    Documents the options in various panes.

  • Windows

    Documents the options in various user interface windows.

  • Stand-alone utilities

    Houdini includes a large number of useful command-line utility programs.

  • Python Scripting

    How to script Houdini using Python and the Houdini Object Model.

  • Expression functions

    Expression functions let you compute the value of parameters.

  • HScript commands

    HScript is Houdini’s legacy scripting language.

  • VEX

    VEX is a high-performance expression language used in many places in Houdini, such as writing shaders.

  • Properties

    Properties let you set up flexible and powerful hierarchies of rendering, shading, lighting, and camera parameters.

  • Python Panels

    You can script custom pane types using Python to create your own UIs.

  • Galleries

    Pre-made materials included with Houdini.