What is the workflow of Houdini artist?

   3250   6   3
User Avatar
Member
27 posts
Joined: June 2016
Offline
I would like to deconstruct the mind of an Houdini artist to understand the workflow and the first steps in beginning of a new project/experiment.

I'm new to Houdini and I would like to learn more about the software. I have good knowledge in 3D and from what I understood you need to forget everything you know about other softwares in order to understand Houdini. Learning new software is always intimidating and require hours of learning. I would like to know your mistakes and failures that made you to improve your learning.

My question is how and where to start to understand what is the workflow and creative thinking when you decide to put down the first nodes in your new project?

All advice from your expertise is always appreciated.
User Avatar
Member
806 posts
Joined: Oct. 2016
Offline
Moin,

> you need to forget everything you know about other softwares in order to understand Houdini

… sorry to be so blunt, but that sounds ridiculus. Why should you forget everything you learned about MS Word when you want to understand Houdini?
Oh, you meant other 3d software? Sorry to be so blunt, but that sounds even more ridiculus. Why should you forget everything you learned about normal vectors when you want to understand Houdini?

I don't know how an artist thinks or works. But I love to get a job done - and forgetting things I know isn't on the agenda, ever, if I want to get a job done.

(It is different when I want to hit a target with a self made arrow on one of my self made archer's bows. THEN I want to forget about EVERYTHING and just “be the arrow”. But that moment passes, as soon as the arrow hits the target (hopefully). I would not want to transfer that feeling to working on a computer. Definitely not. Neither the hitting the screen with an arrow nor the forgetting about anything.)

If you look at my videos on Vimeo, you can see how I approached my first small project in Houdini without really having used Houdini much before (I used it for a couple of hours, maybe days, counted all in). If I hadn't known anything about 3d software in general, I probably wouldn't have gotten the project done (I am speaking of the “spider leg rig” project I documented: https://vimeo.com/210490392 [vimeo.com] and the two following videos). Obviously today I would do some things differently, because you learn something new every day - often enough you learn something new in another (3d) software and just apply that newly learned stuff to your work in Houdini.

Everything works together. Houdini is not a singularity.

Marc
---
Out of here. Being called a dick after having supported Houdini users for years is over my paygrade.
I will work for money, but NOT for "you have to provide people with free products" Indie-artists.
Good bye.
https://www.marc-albrecht.de [www.marc-albrecht.de]
User Avatar
Member
27 posts
Joined: June 2016
Offline
malbrecht
Moin,

> you need to forget everything you know about other softwares in order to understand Houdini

… sorry to be so blunt, but that sounds ridiculus. Why should you forget everything you learned about MS Word when you want to understand Houdini?
Oh, you meant other 3d software? Sorry to be so blunt, but that sounds even more ridiculus. Why should you forget everything you learned about normal vectors when you want to understand Houdini?

I don't know how an artist thinks or works. But I love to get a job done - and forgetting things I know isn't on the agenda, ever, if I want to get a job done.

(It is different when I want to hit a target with a self made arrow on one of my self made archer's bows. THEN I want to forget about EVERYTHING and just “be the arrow”. But that moment passes, as soon as the arrow hits the target (hopefully). I would not want to transfer that feeling to working on a computer. Definitely not. Neither the hitting the screen with an arrow nor the forgetting about anything.)

If you look at my videos on Vimeo, you can see how I approached my first small project in Houdini without really having used Houdini much before (I used it for a couple of hours, maybe days, counted all in). If I hadn't known anything about 3d software in general, I probably wouldn't have gotten the project done (I am speaking of the “spider leg rig” project I documented: https://vimeo.com/210490392 [vimeo.com] and the two following videos). Obviously today I would do some things differently, because you learn something new every day - often enough you learn something new in another (3d) software and just apply that newly learned stuff to your work in Houdini.

Everything works together. Houdini is not a singularity.

Marc

Hey Marc, thanks for your thoughts. What would you do differently today with your gained knowledge?
User Avatar
Member
806 posts
Joined: Oct. 2016
Offline
Hmm … if you watched the series, you know a good part of the answer, technically.

You know, in life - when you try something out for the very first time, in order to understand how it works and how it works *for* *you* - you don't always go the easy way. You will take paths that look familiar enough that you feel confident that you can cope with surprises behind the next bush, tree or red exclamation mark in the network view.
But the further each path takes you, the more unknown, and often fascinating terretory you discover. Taking the “slow road”, the pathes you think you know, will help you grow understanding for the wonders of a world you haven't visited yet. Seeing one “new” plant at a time allows you to appreciate its color, smell, maybe taste - if you were shocked by all of them at once, all you'd see is a mix of crazy something, undisctinctable stink and you'd probably die from eating it all.

I took the hard road first, which you already know if you watched the videos (I tried solving it all through a python node). Now, that I have done some python in Houdini and have a better understanding of its evaluation logic, I would actually *do* a bit of it in Python, creating a good part of the rig from a HDA, instancing instead of copy&pasting, referencing, using CHOPs, allowing for arbitrary control elements. Make it all more complex, more flexible, more wonderous.

You need to learn to put butter on toast before you can make proper couscous.

There probably is no “correct” way to do (almost) anything in Houdini. Houdini is a tool that you can use to solve problems (or to create art). You learn something new and helpful (almost) every day. That doesn't mean that the way you did it yesterday was wrong or inferior. Some people do (almost) everything in CHOPs. Others refuse to use Python (I'd like to know and hang out with those). Some people throw in a volume even if they just want to split a quad into two triangles, others only use Houdini to create obj files that they then render in Blender.
Tell me: Who is “wrong”? Who is “better”? Who is the “experience Houdini user”, based on how he does things in Houdini?
There has been a nice report about an old man who uses Microsoft's graphic editor to create beautiful (computer) paintings. Is he a not-as-good artist compared to someone “breathing” Photoshop?

Whatever road takes you to your destination and you feel comfortable with: Take it. Sometimes doing things the “wrong way” teaches you more interesting new stuff than you expected. Do things the wrong way every once in a while.

Marc
---
Out of here. Being called a dick after having supported Houdini users for years is over my paygrade.
I will work for money, but NOT for "you have to provide people with free products" Indie-artists.
Good bye.
https://www.marc-albrecht.de [www.marc-albrecht.de]
User Avatar
Member
4189 posts
Joined: June 2012
Offline
plazadelmar
My question is how and where to start to understand what is the workflow and creative thinking when you decide to put down the first nodes in your new project?

Houdini works like Nuke. You need to know what you want to do then know the node that does that. You may then prepend or append nodes to refine the input or output.
User Avatar
Member
584 posts
Joined: Sept. 2013
Offline
Hi plaza,

it´s true, many things are approached a lot differently in Houdini.

What sets Houdini apart from other packages is its proceduralism. You might not directly work on geometry, but you will rather develop tools or workflows that create the geometry (or animations, even sounds) for you. Also you do not necessarily work on a specific project, but you will rather try to setup a procedure that is as versatile, elegant and performative as possible so you can use it in future projects, as well.

There are numerous creative thoughts you will have to go through. Here are some from the perspective of a procedural modeler:

  • Define: “I want to create a city full of rectangular low poly buildings in a modular fashion!”
  • Analyze: “What do buildings actually look like?”
  • Generalize: “What elements do all buildings have in common?”
  • Filter: “I found some buildings during my analysis that are too irregular. I will not consider them.”
  • Dependencies: “Buildings get larger towards the center of a city. Entrances are mostly on ground level.”
  • Abstraction: “What details are worth recreating? What will be visible enough to make my variants distinguishable?”
  • Parameterization: “What degree of freedom is the user supposed to get? Are their any sensible limits?”
  • Randomization: “How can I vary my results without making them look arbitrary?”
  • Technical: “What is the most efficient and reliable way to create my geometry? Do I need several curves or is a cube sufficient as a start?”
  • Maintenance: “How can I keep my procedure well structured, so that me and others will be able to understand and improve it later on?”
  • Style: “Do I need complex node trees or can I solve most of it with one-liners? Are there useful programming functions that do exactly what I want or do I have to jump between lots of group assignments and attribute promotions?”

It´s like a really long journey of learning (among other things the behinds of 3d graphics) while you will definitely become a more technical and in some sense a more effective artist.
Edited by Konstantin Magnus - Sept. 11, 2017 07:16:24
User Avatar
Member
27 posts
Joined: June 2016
Offline
Konstantin Magnus
Hi plaza,

it´s true, many things are approached a lot differently in Houdini.

What sets Houdini apart from other packages is its proceduralism. You might not directly work on geometry, but you will rather develop tools or workflows that create the geometry (or animations, even sounds) for you. Also you do not necessarily work on a specific project, but you will rather try to setup a procedure that is as versatile, elegant and performative as possible so you can use it in future projects, as well.

There are numerous creative thoughts you will have to go through. Here are some from the perspective of a procedural modeler:

  • Define: “I want to create a city full of rectangular low poly buildings in a modular fashion!”
  • Analyze: “What do buildings actually look like?”
  • Generalize: “What elements do all buildings have in common?”
  • Filter: “I found some buildings during my analysis that are too irregular. I will not consider them.”
  • Dependencies: “Buildings get larger towards the center of a city. Entrances are mostly on ground level.”
  • Abstraction: “What details are worth recreating? What will be visible enough to make my variants distinguishable?”
  • Parameterization: “What degree of freedom is the user supposed to get? Are their any sensible limits?”
  • Randomization: “How can I vary my results without making them look arbitrary?”
  • Technical: “What is the most efficient and reliable way to create my geometry? Do I need several curves or is a cube sufficient as a start?”
  • Maintenance: “How can I keep my procedure well structured, so that me and others will be able to understand and improve it later on?”
  • Style: “Do I need complex node trees or can I solve most of it with one-liners? Are there useful programming functions that do exactly what I want or do I have to jump between lots of group assignments and attribute promotions?”

It´s like a really long journey of learning (among other things the behinds of 3d graphics) while you will definitely become a more technical and in some sense a more effective artist.

Interesting thoughts and the approach. I like it. Thanks for sharing
  • Quick Links