When I saw this tutorial on Greyscalegorilla, it occurred to me that although I liked the results a lot the process of sculpting and posemorphing would be a bit too unflexible for my needs. And of course it would also be too tedious for a lazy nerd like me to manually sculpt dents. I was already trying to figure out a procedural approach for this dented look.

What I came up with is relying heavily on Houdini’s excellent implementation of VDBs. VDBs are a really fast representation of voxels. Voxels are for 3D the same as what pixels are for a 2D image. Think of them as tiny cubes. Each voxel can store a Value. In our case the distance to a surface. If a voxel is on the outside, it will store a positive distance towards the surface. If a voxel is on the inside, it will store the negsative distance towards the surface. If we want to convert a volume containing voxels to a surface (polygons) we simply have to find out where the volume’s voxels have a value of 0. This is called an SDF, a signed distance field.

Enough stuff about the theory of voxels in Houdini. Let’s get building!



Still thinks “Space: 1999” is the coolest thing that ever happened on german TV. Be it pixels, hardware, code or cameras – if it’s interesting, Moritz is gonna take it apart. And sometimes even reassemble it. In his spare time he likes to dabble with code and create generative artwork. He claims his early exposure to QBasic is no help at all when working in Houdini, Cinema 4D, Processing or Arduino. But it might have been what started his fascination for the boundaries of code and art. When not wreaking havoc to any intriguing devices around him, he works as a freelance Art Director / Technical Director.

More from Moritz Schwind


  • Zeta0 2 years ago  | 

    Wow, this is amazing.
    But, how can you do the geometry in the surface around the dents of the first image?

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