Houdini 20.0 Shelf tools

Metaball shelf tool

Creates metaballs and metasurfaces.

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This tool is useful for modeling blob-like things that mold together, such as rain drops puddling. It can also be used to create organic shapes, or as a force field such a tornado.

Placing Metaballs

To...Do this

Place the metaball anywhere in the scene

  1. Click the Metaball tool on the Create tab.

  2. Move the cursor into the scene view.


    You can hold Alt to detach the metaball from the construction plane.

  3. Click LMB to place the metaball anywhere in the scene view.

    If you press Enter without clicking, Houdini places the metaball at the origin.

Place the metaball at the origin

Press ⌃ Ctrl + LMB on the Metaball tool on the shelf.

If you are at the geometry level or have an object selected and you create a metaball, it will go into the selected object. If you are at the scene level and create a metaball, the viewer and the network editor will switch to the geometry level of the selected object. This unique feature allows you to merge multiple metaballs together automatically by creating them sequentially and close together.


Metaballs can be moved once they are placed by either dragging them in the scene view or changing the values in the parameter editor.

Metaball Handles

There are special handles available at the geometry level for the Metaball object that allow you to stretch and squash it.

  1. Move to the geometry level by double clicking LMB the metaball node in the network editor or by clicking the Jump to Operator button on the operation controls toolbar.

  2. Drag the handles to squash or stretch the metaball.

To...Do this

Stretch or squash the metaball along the x-axis

Drag the red handle.

Stretch or squash the metaball along the y-axis

Drag the green handle.

Stretch or squash the metaball along the z-axis

Drag the blue handle.

For specific parameter help see the Metaball node help.

See also

Shelf tools

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.