Houdini 19.0

Shelf tools

How to use and customize the icons on the shelf at the top of the main window.

On this page

Overview

The shelf gives you quick access to commonly used functions in Houdini.

  • Most tools create new nodes for you in the background.

  • Some items on the shelf and in the toolbox are more “actions” than “tools” – they do something immediately when you click them, and don’t enter into a “tool state” or show options on the operation controls toolbar.

  • Most tools will use the current selection if possible. Some tools will prompt you for one or more selections if the current selection is not relevant, or if it needs more information. For example, the Parent tool on the Modify shelf tab prompts you to select the child and then the parent.

    After you make a prompted selection, press Enter to finish the selection. (You can also press ⇧ Shift + RMB or right-click and choose Accept selection).

  • Some tools have alternate action-like behavior when you hold ⌃ Ctrl and click them.

    You can usually quick-place the object created by a tool at the origin by ⌃ Ctrl-clicking the tool. For example, when you ctrl-click the Sphere tool, it immediately creates a sphere at the origin instead of asking you to place the sphere in the viewer.

    If you ⌃ Ctrl-click the light or camera tools, they create a light/camera from the current view, instead of asking you to place the new object.

  • Hold the mouse over an item on the shelf to see its label and a brief description of what it does. While the tooltip is open, press F1 to see the full help page for the item.

  • See how to customize the shelf.

Subtopics

Using the shelf

  • Customize the shelf

    How to change the look of the shelf, change and rearrange its contents, and create your own shelf tools.

Technical

See also

Houdini 19.0

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.

  • 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.

  • Executing tasks with PDG/TOPs

    How to define dependencies and schedule tasks using TOP networks.

  • MPlay viewer

    Using Houdini’s stand-alone image viewer.

Character FX

  • Character

    How to rig and animate characters in Houdini.

  • 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.

Dynamics

  • Particles

    How to create particle simulations.

  • Dynamics

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

  • Vellum

    Vellum uses a Position Based Dynamics approach to cloth, hair, grains, fluids, and softbody objects.

  • Pyro

    How to simulate smoke, fire, and explosions.

  • Fluids

    How to set up fluid and ocean simulations.

  • Destruction

    How to break different types of materials.

  • Grains

    How to simulate grainy materials (such as sand).

  • Finite elements

    How to create and simulate deformable objects

Nodes

  • OBJ - Object nodes

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

  • SOP - Geometry nodes

    Geometry nodes live inside Geo objects and generate geometry.

  • DOP - Dynamics nodes

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

  • VOP - Shader nodes

    VOP nodes let you define a program (such as a shader) by connecting nodes together. Houdini then compiles the node network into executable VEX code.

  • LOP - USD nodes

    LOP nodes generate USD describing characters, props, lighting, and rendering.

  • ROP - Render nodes

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

  • CHOP - Channel nodes

    Channel nodes create, filter, and manipulate channel data.

  • COP2 - Compositing nodes

    Composite nodes create, filter, and manipulate image data.

  • TOP - Task nodes

    TOP nodes define a workflow where data is fed into the network, turned into work items and manipulated by different nodes. Many nodes represent external processes that can be run on the local machine or a server farm.

Lighting, rendering, and compositing

  • Solaris

    Solaris is the umbrella name for Houdini’s scene building, layout, lighting, and rendering tools based on the Universal Scene Description (USD) framework.

  • Rendering

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

  • HQueue

    HQueue is Houdini’s free distributed render and simulation manager.

  • 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.

Reference

  • 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.

  • APIs

    Lists all the reference documentation for the ways you can program Houdini.

  • 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.

  • Galleries

    Pre-made materials included with Houdini.

  • Houdini packages

    How to write and combine multiple environment variable definition files for different plug-ins, tools, and add-ons.

  • Houdini Engine

    Documents the Houdini Engine C and Python APIs as well as the SessionSync utility.

  • hwebserver

    Functions and classes for running a web server inside a graphical or non-graphical Houdini session.