Learn how to build a VFX level Groom using Houdini Tools 

On this series we will focus on the full process of how to groom a character up to production level.  Grooming in Houdini is a pretty natural process but it does require some basic knowledge on how to assemble thins and most importantly as not being a native groom software, how does grooming works as a whole.
 That is why we will integrate techniques from other grooming plugins and apply them into Houdini to get the most out of the results, thinking on other departments and disciplines that may be found under a production environment. 

Final Result Turntable

To understand fur requires a spacial perception and techniques similar to modeling and texturing but the difference is that this is achieved with curves [HAIRS] instead of topology or displacement textures. Which gives an familiar sense of depth but the path to achieve it its slightly different.

When working on a groom there are several steps that are needed to take into account, from the structure of the model, that is technically different than an anatomical model due to the deformation on animation, to the volumetric perception of hair vs skin. 


We will do an analysis an model adjustments over the series to achieve the best result of the groom, which will be completely technical and taking the simulation and rigging process into account.


One of the most common mistakes when working on a groom is the excess or anatomical information that will at the end, result in hard to control areas on the groom that will affect the Lookdev and the natural behavior of the hair.
On production one of the most common notes that we receive from supervisors are the natural surface of the groom being broken, and even if this does happens in natural, with the current tools that we have and time frames to invest this will have a visual impact on the CG result that will look a bit unnatural, which is the reason of some of the model adjustments that happens in the process.

The Voice

Jesus FC
jesusfc.net

Lead groom artist at MPC Character Lab with more than 10 years of experience from feature animation to VFX.  I have worked on productions as Maleficent 2 and Detective Pikachu that I had the pleasure to be the hero groomer of Pikachu. I have been focusing on making tutorials for Grooming for the last 3 years for the community and now I have been working on Houdini to implement and take the tools to the highest level that I can.              


The Result


We will start from the basic model import and we will use the current state of the Houdini tools + Groombear to achieve the higher level groom that we can under the time frame. The full series was thought to be build as a stress relief on the quarantine for the users. Which is the reason why the format is different. It was done Live on twitch.  That's why the tutorial is quite natural, showing errors, crashes and the full workflow with conversions with the users that were on the streams. We will talk about pipeline,  what does it mean to work on a big studio, departments and responsibility levels as Junior, Mid, Senior and Lead. 


LESSONS

This full tutorial consist of 10 Main lessons divided into introductory lessons and full streams. Were you will find all the information that you need to achieve the result. This lessons have no edition, and they are doing live. Which means that every error, crash and trick has being recorded. Think of it as a natural conversation with a buddy training you at work.

1.  Getting the model ready


On this lesson we use Maya and a bit of Zbrush just to set the groups and to check the model as we are based on the studio pipelines. After we check the models we export to set the scene in Houdini ready to groom

01 - getting the model ready

02 - guide and flow

Once we set up the scene we will start comparing Houdini to the other grooming software and we will use GROOMBEAR to set the main guide flows. At the same time we have a series of tutorials that show how the built in guide nodes are able to achieve the same results.


02 - guide and flow

03 - basic groom

Once we have the basic guides we will show how to set up the clumps, building a custom guide systems to be able to preview the clumps on a more natural way and to be able to have full  control of the result. This will be one of the main difference from the built in tools. As we will be using Production ready technique from VFX workflows that are friendlier with simulation and can achieve a higher level result along the way. 

03 - basic groom

04 - neck blend


Once we have the basic groom we will use Review Tool to create dailies and to review the process of the groom with renders and to analyze what do we need to adjust along the way. Focusing on complicated areas and references.

You can see an example of this process here 

03 - basic groom

05 - groom adjustments

Keeping the process we make the first gray renders to show along the way the best results to complement with the feedback. On this stage we work more on the whole set up to get a more natural result along the full groom.


05 - groom adjustments

06 - density and feet

Minor details are always important. Density and width are one of the most important aspects of the groom as they will ripple all the way to Lookdev and comp. 
On this case we tackle one of the trickier parts, how to get a successful with and density blends on complex areas.

06 - density and feet

06 -FULL STREAM

After the general block out its done we decided to show the full streams with no edition. As the base has been set and this process is mostly based on iterations.

Here we adjusted the clumps, created the groom divisions for flyaways and added the whiskers

06 -FULL STREAM

07 -FULL STREAM

we will focus on the face as our main point of quality to achieve a successful result after a model change.  

On this tutorial we will focus on how to create a Artist friendly scene that will be easy to ready to any artist that may pick up the scene in a studio.

07 -FULL STREAM

08 -FULL STREAM

We will adjust the final details of the groom on the final model to move towards texturing.

08 -FULL STREAM

 MODELS  TO DOWNLOAD

We have different types of models for the users to groom and work on not just the rat that is shown on the tutorial.

1. Rat
2. Red Panda
3. Dog
4. Bird
5. And Human models from cartoon to busts

SUBSCRIPTION LEVELS



WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT : FEEDBACK & SUPPORT

We use a subscription base tutorial system, so you can access all the tutorials that we have on the channel, that are more than a hundred hours. Not only focused on houdini but different techniques and software. But the most important thing is that we help the community with feedback. We help studios and users alike to get the best out of their tools and we give them feedback and support along the way. This is not an absolute thing but we will do it every time we can. 

We have two Private communities, one on Discord and one on Facebook where we give support and help the users.

Some examples are here 


TOOLS 

Hair Geometry Distributor - Will be Release it in May 2020

Several custom tools have been developed on the channel that will be also available to use, like the geometry distribution tool that we build the base on the streams and will go live this month for patrons. 

Feather Tool - WIP not set release date but we are working on it.


COMMENTS

  • omar-hesham 2 weeks, 3 days ago  | 

    Great stuff! I look forward to seeing more. Coming from Xgen I am tempted to start learning Houdini.

  • Sova Anima 2 weeks, 3 days ago  | 

    I have been following JesusFC grooming series for over two years starting with xgen and migrating to houdini hairgen systems. JesusFC has deep passion for exploring and teaching people using versatile methods that help nowadays artists to feel flexible and technically free.

  • MitchSirois 2 weeks, 2 days ago  | 

    I'd recommend to anyone interested in grooming, JesusFC's tutorials are amazing. He goes over some of the most common errors you may come across as well as other do's and don'ts. There are some free introductory series great for beginners available as well!

  • Harold1007 1 week, 6 days ago  | 

    JesusFC's bear grooming tutorial is very good. I was searching for grooming tutorial in Houdini. There weren't too many I can found, then I saw he's some free tutorials on Youtube about basic knowledge in grooming with Houdini. It helps me a lot for someone as a beginner like me. Also, he's fundamental videos about hair and fur are worth to watch.

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