Actually Learning Houdini?

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Cheers everyone,

Nice to meet you all, as this is my first post. Lets say you had to teach Houdini in a class, and your curriculum was a beginners class meaning no Houdini experience what so ever! Where would you start? The reason I ask this is because Im finally going to take the time to really devote my efforts in learning Houdini. Every time I try this I am directed to start with a tutorial of some sort that dives right into expressions and variables that don't make any sense to a new user. I come from a Maya background so Im not a total noob, but whenever I get advice or I've taken the courses in Santa Monica, they also start off where someone would have to have had experience in Houdini would understand.

Could someone please give me a basic idea of were to begin? Is it better to study in a class, or is it better online? Id like to learn Houdini in stages, meaning Interface, Buttons, Viewports, Objects, Lighting, Texturing, Rendering, etc…Also something that is most current not working from an earlier version especially if there are new ways of doing things that may have changed. I would really appreciate any advice as maybe I can finally get over my fear of learning such a great piece of software!

Thank you. :wink:
“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me”
― Miles Davis
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Houdini first steps.
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Delight0092
Houdini first steps.


Thank you, now I'm on the right track.
“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me”
― Miles Davis
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i am a student who started learning houdini about a year and a half ago. im really happy that i was taught the way i was, because i think it helped to get a really thorough understanding of the software. at our school, we first run through the intro to houdini tutorials that are on the welcome page of the docs. then we expand upon the last example and do a procedural forest.

from there we do our first real project, a procedural building. for the procedural building it should be completely procedural. if you have edit nodes everywhere, than even though your building might look a bit better now, your not learning what you should be. i recommend this path to my friends who want to learn houdini, purely because it worked so well for me and my classmates.

the rules we had from our teacher as we were learning helped a lot too i think. everytime we encountered a new node, read the entire doc page for it. 2, no shelf tools!. this is the one i cant stress enough. the majority of people i see learning houdini, learn to use the shelf tools, but have no idea what is going on past that. this is especially true when you get to dops. people start doing fluid sims and turning objects into sources and they have no idea what is going on, so when they want to fix or change something, they just come to a halt and find someone who actually learned what was going on. there comes a time when shelf tools are great though too. they speed up a workflow because they do a lot of stuff that you would have to do anyways.. just make sure you 100% understand them before you go clicking.

to that effect, i would also recommend staying away from dops for quite awhile (until you have a rock solid understanding of sops). they are very appealing, but again i think if youre serious about learning houdini, its important to thoroughly understand what everything is doing. after you can make a procedural building, and completely understand attributes and vops, then i would say get into pops and rigid bodies.

im not saying that this is the best route to go, but it has worked better than any other ive seen. there are a lot of good resources out there. here, odforce, peter quint on vimeo to name a few. i havent watched the first steps series but i would assume its good.

the community is also really good, and smaller than you would guess, so ask questions and get involved. and when youre good enough, i think that the absolute best way to learn houdini, like many other things, is to teach it to someone else. when you try and help people learn it or troubleshoot their problems you gain so much more than you ever could on your own.

and welcome!

tldr - put in the time, dont use shelf tools.
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Thank you for such a in depth suggestion. I have to admit I have tried to learn Houdini at least 5 times, constantly being intimidated by writing expressions which I understand is the back bone of the software. To be honest Im not the smartest when it comes to understanding any code so that is going to be a challenge in itself. That said, I feel I am creative so I have a good feeling once I grasp the idea I will keep at it! I understand the node based concept and how powerful that can be, its just when I read the parameters they have so many options and words that I have never really dealt with, which makes me worry…I will try your suggestion once I read through the getting started tutorials as well as the first steps which was suggested above. Thank you again for the introduction!
“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me”
― Miles Davis
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the building is something that i think would help with expressions. they are mostly just channel references, like ‘put the roof on top of the building’ -> translate roof in y the size of the building -> ch(“../box_building/sizey”)

its a good way to slowly get into them i think, but expressions are still always going to be expressions. at some point you just kind of have to sit down and work until you understand them.
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I'll happily share some of my scene files, I've learned a lot about Houdini in the past 3 months, Thanks to good learning material, the fantastic community, and just trying things out, PM me here if you want my email address and I can share some stuff with you, Although I wont be able to for a few days.
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I've had a few playing around goes with Houdini but this coming year I've set myself the task of really learning it. I've started a blog to record my progress, I have loads of experience with 3d software - and for my part I'd say start with something small and simple.
My blog
http://52weeksofhoudini.blogspot.co.uk/ [52weeksofhoudini.blogspot.co.uk]
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The best way to learn Houdini is practice the skill of breaking down a problem into small chunks and keeping a notebook. I still keep an online note book of scene files and indepth notes. I refer to it all the time on jobs as I can never remember all of the stuff I have solved over the years.

Rob
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