Welcome to the MARDINI Daily Art Challenge  - your chance to compete for cool prizes by creating images or animations! With a different challenge every day during the month of March, you'll have 31 chances to enter and win. 

For this MARDINI, the daily theme prompts are Houdini nodes. As shown below, each week has a node type, and each day has a node which is meant to used in the artwork that you submit. The nodes prompts for each day are shown below. 

The focus of this contest is the aesthetics of your submitted artwork – while the nodes give you a chance to explore parts of Houdini you may not have encountered before.


The MARDINI Daily Challenge Forum has now been made available and on each day a thread for the daily topic will appear for you to post your work. Create your images or animations using Houdini products, including Indie and Apprentice, and render using Karma, Mantra or third party renderers working from within the Houdini environment. Any compositing work should be done using COPS.

Submit your work to these forums in order for your artwork to be considered. To win the daily prizes, you must post:

  •  your image or animation 
  • a screengrab that shows your artwork in the viewport and the network that includes the daily node. 

These must be posted before Midnight EST/EDT on each day. You may submit art to any of the topics throughout the month but your work will only be eligible for the daily prizes or daily entry point if you submit before the daily deadline. You will still be eligible for the Iron Heart prize if you submit after the topic date. 

Introducing your Mardini Coach | Paul Esteves

To inspire you as you set out on each daily challenge, Paul Esteves, has put together a set of videos that introduce each of the nodes being used in the contest. You can use these to learn what each node is capable of before you incorporate it into your design. 

In addition to his submissions to the HOULY and MARDINI contests, Paul is best known for his H19 Nodes and Vellum Nodes tutorial series. Many of the nodes he taught in these classes will be used for this contest so be sure to check out these lessons.

H19 Nodes      VELLUM NODES


There are a number of different ways to win with the MARDINI Daily Challenge:

All entries will be reviewed by a panel of Judges and on a daily basis the top 3 images and top 3 animations will be rewarded points.





1st Place Image

5 pts

1st Place Animation

5 pts

2nd Place Image

4 pts

2nd Place Animation

4 pts

3rd Place Image

3 pts

3rd Place Animation

3 pts

Image Entry

1 pts

 Animation Entry

1 pts

The artist with the most points after 31 days.

From the winning entries for each day, our panel of judges will pick the top three Images and the top three Animations.

Everyone who submits entries for all 31 challenges and submits them as a contact sheet to the Iron Heart forum by April 4, 2022 at Midnight EST/EDT wins the Iron Heart. 

Ironheart Contact Sheet Template


First Place: 1 YR Houdini FX [SideFX]
Second Place: 1 YR Houdini CORE [SideFX]
Third Place: 1 YR Houdini CORE [SideFX] 

1 YR Houdini FX [SideFX]

Houdini T-Shirt [SideFX]

Houdini Swag Pack


This contest is open to any 3D artist anywhere in the world.  All entries must be received on or before the closing date.
  • Only one submission per day per artist is allowed. You can create an image or an animation but not both.
  • This contest is void where prohibited.
  • Employees of SideFX or any of their agents may participate in the contest but are not eligible to win.
  • The judges' decision is final.
  • SideFX is not responsible for submissions that arrive late, or are lost or damaged during submission.
  • If the prize cannot be awarded due to unforeseen circumstances, no cash alternatives are available.
  • Artwork created for these challenges must be created using Houdini products. Winners will be asked to submit .hip files to verify that Houdini was used for all aspects of the designs. If you do not submit the files then you will be disqualified.
  • External texture maps may be used as part of your submission but geometry and motion must be created in Houdini.
  • All content must be the property of the submitter. If you are running Houdini on an employer or school computer make sure that this does not compromise your ownership rights.
  • Entries that clearly infringe on the copyrights of another company will be disqualified. 
  • Your entry in the contest constitutes an agreement to allow SideFX unrestricted use and distribution of the artwork submitted.


Q. What has changed from last year's MARDINI Contest?
A. The daily prompts are now Houdini nodes that you need to incorporate into your work. In addition to submitting your image or animation each day, you need to include a screen grab showing the node in action.

Q. Is the Deadline midnight EST or EDT? 
A. Since March will see daylight savings time arrive, the deadline will be either midnight EST or EDT depending on the change.

Q. Can third party render engines such as Redshift be used? 
A. Yes as long as they are set up to render inside Houdini.

Q. Are Indie and Apprentice users eligible?
A. Yes. 

Q. Are we allowed to use SideFX Labs, MOPs and or QLibs?
A. Yes plug-ins and third party tools are also allowed. SideFX Labs will be required for week 3.

Q. Are multiple submissions allowed?
A. Only one submission per day per artist is allowed.

Q. Do I have to choose between images and animations for the duration of the challenge? 
A. No. You can create an image one day and an animation another. They will just be judged in different categories  each day but the points will be combined to find the best overall.

Q. Can I output animations using flipbooks?
A. Yes. You can use the Viewport OpenGL to output your entry.

Q. Can Megascans/Substance be used?
A. Megascan and other 3rd party models are not allowed in the contest. Megascan and Substance textures are allowed.

Q. Can I use an existing Houdini project as one of my entries?
A. In the spirit of MARDINI, you should create a new entry every day and not use artwork you have created for some other purpose.

Q. Do I need to enter every day to win?
A. Not necessarily. There are four ways to win - see the rules above for more details.

Q. Are groups allowed?
A. No, this contest is designed for individual artists.

Q. If I win multiple daily challenges do I get multiple T-shirts?
A. Artists will only get one T-shirt no matter how many daily challenges they win.