Is there a way to learn Houdini "more systematically" or say "more logically"?

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Hey guys,

Houdini is powerful and awesome.

I am a green hand and kept watching basic tutorials on youtube and I met one problem:

I don't know “what can I do” when trying to design something 100% by myself.

For example: what nodes can I apply, how they affect each other.

Is there some tutorials that I can learn to understand the whole structure of Houdini's work flow, I don't know if work flow is correct here, easier and faster?

For example, C4D has MoGraph and MoGraph Effector, Effector affects MoGraph, so when I want to change some MoGraph effects, I will go to effectors to see what I can apply.

Thank you all guys!

Rgrds,
D
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Welcome to the club.

It's a tricky path for sure. I understand what you're saying and the answer is that you probably won't be able to get out of being incredibly frustrated with Houdini's complexity, particularly at first, but even years later. There are many nodes, and many ways to basically accomplish the same exact result.

Since you mention C4D and MoGraph, you should look at MOPs which is an add-on for Houdini that adds a lot of similar functions as the stuff you find in C4D without needing to resort to VEX.

https://www.motionoperators.com [www.motionoperators.com]

Other than that, keep doing what you're doing. Watch plenty of tutorials and sooner or later it will all start clicking and you'll become familiar with the main nodes that you can use to accomplish what you need to do.
>>Kays
For my Houdini tutorials and more visit:
https://www.youtube.com/c/RightBrainedTutorials [www.youtube.com]
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Hi Daniel,

the idea behind Houdini is that you can freely combine nodes and functions. It´s basically your task (and your freedom!) to come up with a logic that works for your project.

Everything you will see in tutorials can also be solved in an even simpler or more convoluted way.

In my opinion you learn Houdini best by doing little projects every day. Even if you will feel frustrated at times, you will unconsciously learn a lot along the way.
Edited by Konstantin Magnus - Sept. 27, 2018 03:43:55
https://procegen.konstantinmagnus.de/ [procegen.konstantinmagnus.de]
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Konstantin Magnus
Hi Daniel,

the idea behind Houdini is that you can freely combine nodes and functions. It´s basically your task (and your freedom!) to come up with a logic that works for your project.

Everything you will see in tutorials can also be solved in an even simpler or more convoluted way.

In my opinion you learn Houdini best by doing little projects every day. Even if you will feel frustrated at times, you will unconsciously learn a lot along the way.

Doing little projects every day with Houdini is exactly where the trap lies.

People coming from other software very often struggle to do the bread and butter work in Houdini since many of the basic functions, like viewport interaction, modeling, scene handling and many other things are way behind the tools you find in other software making it much harder to do simple stuff in Houdini than making very complex stuff using shelf tools.

The way you expect to go when you're new to Houdini (or any other software) is start using it for simple tasks and then gradually start digging deeper once it is established in your pipeline.
That doesn't work with Houdini.
The reason for that is that if you hit even just a minor problem, the solution most of the time presented by a tutorial or the community is: Write a vex expression, use any kind of wrangler node or build a tool. That doesn't help. Houdini has such a vast vocabulary that if you're not familiar with scripting or complex expression, the newbie is completely lost.
Yes, you can do literally everything with code, but you need to learn it first, and the docs very often don't even tell you where to start to solve your problem.
So, if you're busy artist and not part of a company with TDs and everything, you quickly go back to your old software where you can to the simple things fast and easy, because the client doesn't not wait for you to learn a new language.
And so, unless you have a lot of time to spare, say, at least two years, you end up using Houdini shelf tools for VFX and do the rest somewhere else.
People that have been using Houdini for years often don't see that. They also often don't see how tedious some things are to do in Houdini compared to other software. I always have to smile when I see the “in time” slogan on the SideFX frontpage…
What Houdini needs is the ability to do the standard stuff that a regular artist does every day like packshots, cleaning up CAD data or Turbosquid models and other non VFX stuff as fast and efficient as any other package out there. When you can do that without writing a single expression or having to drop any wrangle node the time you start building the scene then, and only then you can start the doing little projects every day process.
SideFX is working on these improvements I know that. But Houdini is so far behind other tools in some areas that it will take the next ten years to catch up, given the 3 or 4 QoL additions we see with every release. I am not talking about even modeling nodes. Importing and organizing a CAD model consisting of thousands of unique elements is something you don't want to do in a network editor for example. You need a proper hierarchy tree that allows you to quickly select, filter group and rename objects. What Houdini offers in this respect reminds me of the scene explorer in 3ds max 4. That is just one example. I could make a long list without even touching the actual scene generation process.

So many things you see in the tutorials can also be solved in a simpler and less convoluted way if you use another software altogether, which is a shame.
I love Houdini but the time you have to invest to get somewhere with it when you're not using just the shelf tool is something I and many other simply do not have. (funny though, I just saw a tutorial where the author almost apologized for using a shelf tool. maybe that shows the fundamental problem somehow.. )
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Midphase
Welcome to the club.

It's a tricky path for sure. I understand what you're saying and the answer is that you probably won't be able to get out of being incredibly frustrated with Houdini's complexity, particularly at first, but even years later. There are many nodes, and many ways to basically accomplish the same exact result.

Since you mention C4D and MoGraph, you should look at MOPs which is an add-on for Houdini that adds a lot of similar functions as the stuff you find in C4D without needing to resort to VEX.

https://www.motionoperators.com [www.motionoperators.com]

Other than that, keep doing what you're doing. Watch plenty of tutorials and sooner or later it will all start clicking and you'll become familiar with the main nodes that you can use to accomplish what you need to do.

Funny enough it's those third party tools that helped me find my way into Houdini a little easier. MOPs is just genius and does exactly what the noob needs: it provides all the functionality Houdini has to offer without the newcomer first having to study it all for years or write a single line of code. You can learn the underlying mechanics and nodes after you used them and made some money with it, because the nodes are all there and you can dig in ans see how it's done. And Redshift simply ported the whole Softimage Rendertree structure to Houdini making shading a lot more familiar for me.
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OneBigTree
Doing little projects every day with Houdini is exactly where the trap lies.

Thats how I learnt a few things.

Anyways, I think it´s simply wrong expectations to approach Houdini as a tool that throws quick results at beginners like Sketch Up or Cinema 4D.
https://procegen.konstantinmagnus.de/ [procegen.konstantinmagnus.de]
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For what it's worth…

I just started a new YouTube channel with exactly in mind what OneBigTree is talking about, how to accomplish relatively simple tasks in Houdini which are so weirdly complicated at times (and for which I don't really see any tutorials). I just started, and I'm juggling creating new videos with all of the other work-related stuff that I deal with on a day-to-day basis…but if anyone is interested here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqQzy1kAB5HXRLeZ5h_BKRA [www.youtube.com]
>>Kays
For my Houdini tutorials and more visit:
https://www.youtube.com/c/RightBrainedTutorials [www.youtube.com]
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I did something like that 2 years ago, as well:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nBmAx6lQVA [www.youtube.com]

So its not like I am not seeing your guys` point, but you should accept some day that not every Houdini user is a freelance artist that needs to get stuff done as fast, easy and cheap as possible.
https://procegen.konstantinmagnus.de/ [procegen.konstantinmagnus.de]
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Konstantin Magnus
you should accept some day that not every Houdini user is a freelance artist that needs to get stuff done as fast, easy and cheap as possible.


Konstantin, I have nothing but mad respect for you, but I really wish the moment that somebody suggests that there are ways in which Houdini could be improved to make some aspects of it more streamlined and intuitive, veteran users wouldn't immediately jump to the extreme case scenario of assuming we're asking for Houdini to do all the work for us. There's got to be a happy medium somewhere.

The positive note is that I see SESI responding to this new demand, so they obviously get what people are asking for. For instance, just judging from the preview video, the fact that there are now material-based fracturing presets seems to be a step toward making the process easier and more intuitive. As a matter of fact, pretty much everything I saw in the sneak preview points toward making Houdini more streamlined and simpler. I like to think there are good things ahead for everyone!
>>Kays
For my Houdini tutorials and more visit:
https://www.youtube.com/c/RightBrainedTutorials [www.youtube.com]
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Over the last two years I've slowly learned Houdini and I've been using it as my main package for about a year. I've used a lot of 3d programs, lightwave from 1995-2002 then 3ds max until 2009, which I never really loved, then XSI which I totally loved (rest in peace) then when XSI was murdered I greaved and searched for something I could ever love again. I could bring myself to give Maya much of a chance because I held XSI's death against her, and omg she is a bit of a mess, reminded me of Max (in a bad way)

I dated Modo and Houdini at the same time (I used protection, and they knew we weren't exclusive) After about 6-8 months I decided Houdini was the way to go.

I mostly model so Houdini wasn't the clear choice but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

I would suggest learning from following tutorials, complex or simple it doesn't matter, just tutorials that interest you. I agree though it can be super frustrating and hard when you are learning houdini and at the same time trying to produce work. You can end up doing things in really painful convoluted ways because you don't know any better. I think one problem it seems, there aren't really a lot of tutorials on the mundane things you tend to have to do more when your producing work.

At some point after following along with tutorials where I felt on the verge of being lost, Houdini just clicked for me and I realized the awesomeness of it's design and how everything is amazingly organized, structured etc. I think it would be the same for many people learning it, confusing, overwhelming, slow and painful at first but then it will click and you will understand almost everything, unfortunately I don't know a quick way to get there. Maybe look for some overview tutorials, maybe SideFX could do sort of a overview / philosophy tutorial to try and get people thinking Houdini quicker.

Yea the viewport stuff maybe isn't the best but I doesn't really bother me. I still feel confused by DOPs and crowd sim stuff, and Hscript vs python, but I have sops nailed, and I just wrote my first little python script node to export points into an array that Unreal engine can read, so fun all the power Houdini gives you.
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I think one problem it seems, there aren't really a lot of tutorials on the mundane things you tend to have to do more when your producing work.

I'd go one step further and say that there aren't many tutorials on the mundane things that don't overcomplicate the process by trying to give too much information and show too many options. As much as I love the Steven Knipping tutorials, I really wish he'd consider making some abridged versions of his tutorials!

I find the Mix Training tutorials to be useful for the more mundane stuff, but it requires some hefty dose of patience as Alvaro tends to get sidetracked a lot and very often is distracted by live chat questions that have nothing to do with what he's talking about.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC65D7DvzyyGEqIJVxK-XhDg [www.youtube.com]

Saul Espinosa also has some useful tutorials both on his YouTube Channel and on his Patreon page, but he also tends to get a bit too stream-of-thought for his own good at times with some videos exceeding 6 hours.

https://www.patreon.com/theartofsaul/posts [www.patreon.com]

So yeah, there is some good stuff to be found out there, but nothing with the style and efficiency of VideoCopilot or Greyscale Gorilla.
>>Kays
For my Houdini tutorials and more visit:
https://www.youtube.com/c/RightBrainedTutorials [www.youtube.com]
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I'd go one step further and say that there aren't many tutorials on the mundane things that don't overcomplicate the process by trying to give too much information and show too many options. As much as I love the Steven Knipping tutorials, I really wish he'd consider making some abridged versions of his tutorials!

I like his teaching style amongst others. But I am the opposite. I wish it was more involved ( if possible and he actually knows the details ).
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Hi all, enjoying following this post. I just downloaded Houdini (Apprentice) so haven't actually used it to model anything with yet but really looking forward to maybe being able to master it one day (I live in hope). Now that I've got a few years of 3D modeling experience & using various software, I've learnt that it pays to learn the basics first before delving in too deep, making a heap of messy models/files & picking up lots of bad habits in the process. So I'm determined to try & learn Houdini in a ‘structured’ way too. I'm really keen to learn how to model organic shapes, esp. plants & other landscaping assets in detail. I currently use SketchUp Pro for landscape models & SU Layout for plans, but recently discovered the power of Blender compared to SketchUp, so I've been “playing” with Blender for about 6 months & found it really good for making detailed models of plants, rocks & other landscaping assets, but have also come to realize how good it is to have fluid physics etc to play with (really cool for water features etc.). I've also been mucking around with “Meshroom” (AliceVision) photogrammetry software (which is really cool by the way & also uses a node system) then importing into Blender to decimate/clean up meshes to upload on Sketchfab. I don't have a huge budget which is another reason why Blender & Meshroom appeal to me (both open source) but if I feel it is worth my while, I'm quite happy to pay for licensed versions.

But I digress. Basically I'm seeking a “structured” way of learning Houdini too. So I'm just about to watch some of the video links you guys have posted & hopefully I'll have a bit more insight into what I'm getting into. Not sure if I'm up to the task, as I've had very little experience with code, but I do have a science degree (Environmental), which is probably why I prefer a structured approach to learning. I'm pretty good at following directions, I just need the right directions to begin with….lol. Anyway, I've always liked a challenge, just hope I'm up to this one.

Keep up the good work, cheers.
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