From dust to debris to flocks of birds, particles offer a strong foundation on which you can build any effect. Houdini is most famous for its node-based particle workflow that lets you define a set of rules using interactive tools.

Total Control. To build up complex particle systems, Houdini gives you access to a rules-based approach that offers unlimited control. Define the behaviour of the system or each individual particle using a network of nodes that set up a series of operations and conditions. By defining the rules, you can create particle simulations that behave the way you need them to no matter how many particles are involved.

Full integration. The most impressive particle effects involve interaction between the other parts of your scene. In Houdini, particles can react to and influence geometry, dynamics, and even materials. This creates a shot that is alive with interconnections that would be impossible to manage with keyframes.

Rendering Particles. While particles are just points in space, their final rendered look will be quite different. From sprites to volumetrics to instanced geometry, there are a number of ways in Houdini for you to make your particles more realistic.


Particle Creation

  • Set up complex particle simulations with ease using the Houdini 9 shelf tools
  • Emit particles from any type of geometry including points, surfaces, and volumes including metaballs
  • Birth particles from deforming geometry even if the topology varies from frame to frame
  • Particles can be generated from collisions or split off based on any user-defined event

Particle Control

  • Full complement of dynamic forces such as gravity, wind, drag, rotational velocities with local controls for turbulence for each force type
  • Set up attraction, following, flocking and orbitting to create complex particle motion
  • Particles can collide with static and deforming surfaces then react in a number of different ways such as dying, bouncing, sticking and sliding
  • Use expressions and Houdini’s powerful VEX programming language to control particles
  • Surfaces and point clouds can both transfer and receive attributes from particles that help define behavior

Particle Rendering

  • Instance and copy geometry to particles
  • Point Rendering lets you assign color then render large numbers of particles with motion blur very efficiently
  • Volumetric Rendering lets you assign metaballs to your particles to define regions of density which can then be rendered as true lit volumes
  • Built-in support for texture-mapped sprites directly in the particle network
  • Viewer pane support for viewing texture mapped sprites in real time
  • Use Particles to Build and Deform Geometry

FX Shelf Tools

  • Install a library of ready-made effects such as contrail, heavy smoke, bubbles, and rain.


  • Use Mantra’s native vector expression language to create custom tools for manipulating particles
  • Uses the CPU’s vector engine(s) for extreme performance. In many cases VEX will out perform Houdini operators written with C++