Houdini 18.5 Shelf tools

Whitewater shelf tool

Creates spray, foam, and churn based on an underlying FLIP fluid simulation.

On this page

This tool sets up the source and solver for a whitewater simulation. Whitewater is created from a source FLIP simulation based on several criteria including fluid acceleration, curvature, and vorticity. Whitewater enhances the look of fluid animation with secondary effects such as spray, foam, and bubbles.


Do not try to set up a whitewater simulation from scratch. Use the shelf tool instead.

Using Whitewater

  1. Click the Whitewater tool on the Particle Fluids tab.

  2. Select a FLIP Fluid Object and press Enter to complete your selection.


You may need to navigate into the DOP Network containing the fluid object to select it.

For specific parameter help, see the Whitewater Source, Whitewater Object, and Whitewater Solver node help.

Understanding the network of nodes

Whitewater Source

This is where the spray and foam come from, and where some of the most important parameters to change the amount and location of your whitewater can be found.

  • The Curvature tab on the Whitewater Source node allows you to control where the whitecap is created. You can specify at what surface curvature to emit whitewater as well as the Max Velocity Angle.

  • The Acceleration tab on the Whitewater Source node controls whitewater where then are velocity changes. For example, if the fluid changes direction suddenly, like when a wave collides with a rock and goes back in the opposite direction.

  • The Vorticity tab on the Whitewater Source node looks for areas that are spinning, or the curling of velocity. When water is churned, bubbles are created. This is not typically something you would want in an ocean, unless a boat is traveling through, or a person is flailing around in the water.

Whitewater Sim

This where the whitewater is simulated, and where you can modify the animation.

  • Whitewater Object is the container for whitewater. It contains several visualization options for the particles, as well as parameters that control the nature of their interactions with collision objects.

  • The Whitewater Solver is where you can control the behavior of the whitewater particles.

    • The Emission tab has controls for birthing particles. You can also set different aging rates for bubbles, foam, and spray here, which will result in particles having different lifespans based on their depth.

    • You can set the simulation region and states of its boundaries in the Limits tab. Here you can also give the solver access to the signed distance field of the collision geometry. This is important if you expect whitewater to come to rest atop other objects: without access to this signed distance field, particles may get wrong forces applied to them.

    • The solver’s Forces tab allows you to set the basic forces that are experienced by whitewater particles and their effect at different depths. With default settings, for instance, buoyancy force opposes gravity and only acts on submerged particles.

    • The Foam tab contains the more advanced mechanisms that drive whitewater dynamics.

      • Clumping is responsible for maintaining particle density, giving whitewater fluid-like behavior.

      • Erosion can be used to preserve whitewater in denser areas and accelerate particle reduction in regions where whitewater is more scarce.

      • Repellants can be used to generate cellular foam patterns.

      • Adhesion can help in preventing whitewater from separating from the liquid’s surface.


Typically you will not need to make changes in the Advanced tab.

Import Whitewater

This is the result of whitewater_source and whitewater_sim combined.

For information on how to animate a wave tank with whitewater, see whitewater.


  • The Visualization tab on the Whitewater Source node has controls for visualizing things like curvature, acceleration, and vorticity. Enabling Source Particles can be useful to get an idea of the emission amount that will be generated in your simulation by setting the Whitewater Scale and Emission Amount values to the same values as the matching parameters on the Whitewater Solver.

  • The Whitewater Scale parameter on the Whitewater Solver controls particle separation. You can use a higher value when testing for quicker simulation playback, and then reduce to a smaller value later for more particles and more detail.

  • Increasing the Aging Rates of bubbles, foam, or spray on the Whitewater Solver will boost it’s death chance by that amount. For example, if you don’t want bubbles in your whitewater but you want foam to stick around for a longer period of time, you can set the Bubbles Aging Rate to a higher value and set the Foam Aging Rate to a lower value.

  • To prevent particles from over accumulating in small regions or from separating too far, use the Clumping controls on the Whitewater Solver's Foam tab. This will give the whitewater a more cohesive look.

    Image courtesy of Igor Zanic.

  • Get foam to stick to the surface of the fluid and prevent artifacts when rendering by using the Adhesion controls on the Whitewater Solver's Foam tab.

    Image courtesy of Igor Zanic.

  • The Erosion controls on the Whitewater Solver's Foam tab can be used to eat away whitewater from the outside inward and eliminate whitewater that has separated from the main body.

    Image courtesy of Igor Zanic.

  • Repellants are used to create cellular foam patterns in whitewater. These parameters are on the Whitewater Solver's Foam tab. The Noise Range and Pulse Frequency Range parameters control the look and shape of the repellants. Repellants with a higher pulse change shape more rapidly, and repellants that are less noisy appear more circular. For more information see the Whitewater page in the Fluid chapter.


    Unless Density Threshold is enabled, repellants are not affected by whitewater.

    Image courtesy of Igor Zanic.

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.

Shelf tabs

  • Create tab

    Tools on the Create tab let you create and place primitives, curves, and null objects in the scene view.

  • Modify tab

    Tools on the Modify tab let you easily customize objects in the scene view.

  • Model tab

    Tools on the Model tab let you edit objects in the scene view.

  • Polygon tab

    Tools on the Polygon tab let you modify polygons in the scene view.

  • Deform tab

    Tools on the Deform tab let you deform objects in the scene view.

  • Texture tab

    Tools on the Texture tab let you texture objects in the scene view.

  • Rigging tab

    The Rigging tab contains tools for creating premade rigs.

  • Muscles tab

    The Muscles tab contains tools for creating muscles.

  • Characters tab

    Tools on the Character tab let you create characters in the scene view.

  • Constraints tab

    Tools on the Constraints tab create a constraint network where you can constrain objects to each other in the scene view.

  • Hair Utils tab

    Tools on the Hair Utils tab let you quickly set up hair and fur on objects.

  • Guide Process tab

    Tools on the Guide Process tab let you influence the placement and orientation of guide hairs by painting skin attributes.

  • Guide Brushes tab

    Tools on the Grooming tab let you add and directly manipulate hair.

  • Terrain FX shelf tab

  • Simple FX tab

    The Simple FX tab contains tools for creating dynamic simulations at the geometry level.

  • Cloud FX tab

    The Cloud FX tab contains tools for creating cloud effects.

  • Volume tab

    The Volume tab contains tools for creating volume effects.

  • Lights and Cameras tab

    Tools on the Lights and Cameras tab let you create and place lights and cameras in the scene view.

  • Collisions tab

    Tools on the Collisions tab let you create collision objects in the scene view.

  • Particles tab

    Tools on the Particles tab let you create dynamic particle simulations.

  • Grains tab

    The Grains tab contains tools for simulate grains of sand and other granular matter.

  • Vellum tab

    The Vellum tab contains tools for creating different types of vellum effects.

  • Rigid Bodies tab

    Tools on the Rigid Bodies tab let you create dynamic RBD objects in the scene view.

  • Particle Fluids tab

    Tools on the Particle Fluids tab let you create particle based liquids in the scene view.

  • Viscous Fluids tab

    Viscous fluids are FLIP simulations that use a temperature attribute to drive viscosity.

  • Oceans tab

    The Oceans tab contains tools for creating ocean simulations.

  • Fluid Containers tab

    The Fluid Containers tab contains tools for creating pyro, smoke, and liquid containers.

  • Populate Containers tab

    The Populate Containers tab contains tools for creating and removing fire, smoke, and liquid.

  • Container Tools tab

    The Container Tools tab contains tools for manipulating fire, smoke, and liquid.

  • Pyro FX tab

    Tools on the Pyro FX tab let you create simulated smoke and fire effects.

  • Sparse Pyro FX tab

    Tools on the Sparse Pyro FX tab let you create simulated smoke and fire effects.

  • Solid tab

    Tools on the Solid tab let you create and modify solid objects.

  • Wires tab

    Tools on the Wires tab let you create flexible dynamic objects in the scene view.

  • Crowds tab

    The Crowds tab contains tools for creating crowds, crowd behaviors, as well as examples.

  • Drive Simulation tab

    Tools on the Drive Simulation tab let you manipulate dynamic objects in the scene view.