Houdini Foundations is for artists getting started with Houdini and its node-based procedural workflow. Learn all about the tools and techniques you will use as a Houdini artist then run through three lessons that teach you how to build simple projects from scratch. You will learn how to work with the nodes and networks in Houdini and how to either render out the results or bring them into the UE4 game engine.

To follow through the lessons, you can download the FREE PDF version of the book or purchase a printed copy from the Lulu.com Book Store.

Now Available in Print-on-Demand! | $25.50 USD

A printed edition of the Houdini Foundations book is now available on the Lulu.com Book Store.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Chapter 1 | Overview

This overview chapter contains general information about Houdini that will help you become familiar with important concepts and ideas. While you might not understand it all in your first pass, this chapter will be a valuable reference point as you build up your knowledge.

Chapter 2 | Model, Animate, Render

In this lesson you will start from scratch to model, animate, simulate and render a soccer ball (also known as a football in many parts of the world). You will create a classic bouncing ball animation using the principles of squash and stretch, apply textures and materials, add lights and cameras, and explore the use of dynamics to simulate a group of bouncing soccer balls. 

These tasks will introduce you to many different parts of Houdini as you create your first Houdini scene, explore the interface and discover some of its most important tools. You will learn how to work interactively in the Scene View and how to use the Network View to manage your nodes as you refine your model and build your animation rig. You will also set up materials and textures and render using Houdini’s built-in renderer Mantra, and finally create a rigid body simulation. 

You will also learn how to bake out the hi-res model into texture maps on a low-res model and then how to export your simulation for use in the UE4 game engine.

Lesson Goal

Model, Animate and Render a soccer ball using Houdini’s procedural node-based workflow

Chapter 3 | Procedural Game Assets for UE4

To create game assets using Houdini’s node-based workflow it is important to start learning how to think and work procedurally. In this lesson, you will learn how to create these assets using procedural nodes and networks then deploy them directly into Unreal Engine 4 using the Houdini Engine.

Along the way, you will get to use different aspects of Houdini’s user interface. You will learn how the different UI elements work together to support you as you build your game assets. You will also learn how to create collision geometry and how to create and export a rigid body simulation for use in UE4.

Lesson Goal

To create assets that can be imported into UE4 as game art. 

Chapter 4 | Terrain Generation

Houdini includes a dedicated toolset for generating and shaping terrains. These tools represent terrain using 2D volumes, called heightfields, where each voxel contains the height of the terrain at a particular grid point. The Houdini viewport lets you visualize 2D heightfields as 3D surfaces. You can also set up mask fields that can be used to focus your edits to specific parts of the terrain. In this lesson, you will build up terrains using patterns, noise and erosion then export the results for use in a game engine.

Lesson Goal

Create a landscape using the Heightfield tools in Houdini and bring it into UE4. 



Robert Magee is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at SideFX who has been working with Houdini for 20 years. He has created lots of learning material and demos designed to help artists understand how going procedural with Houdini can benefit their work.

More from Robert Magee


  • harryabreu 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Thank you very much :)

  • Evgeniy Kovalenkov 4 years, 10 months ago  | 


  • Kwesikwaa 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    awesome material

  • rLex 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Very thanks!!!

  • Hubert Dot 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    This is so useful. Especially for a beginner like me.

    I must say that all of you guys from SideFX are so knowledgable and you take care of your customers. Amazing job.

    You are an (or I should say " THE") example how a software should be developed.

    I like Maya...really but my heart is closer and closer to Houdini with every day.

  • bijianchang 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Thank you!

  • bathyscaph 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    This looks like a really great resource. Yes, there are a thousand videos to help people learn Houdini but they are all over the place in terms of focus and quality and they are literally all over the place . . . Youtube, Vimeo, behind paywalls, etc. A well-crafted guide like this is a huge help to people learning the ropes in Houdini.

  • shaylisweet 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    First of all, Thank you very much a lot of thank you to the Houdini Team,,, that this software was done for free.
    And Special thank for learning, tutorials even Houdini fundamental which we can understand very well....
    And Houdini is a very brilliant software Specially for FX,,,,,,,

  • Camohabodka 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Guys, can you help me out?

    Stuck in SoccerballTutorial, Part 6: Materials & Shaders, 02.

    I don't understand where to get soccerball_color.rat from.
    It was not created automatically and it was not described in previous parts.

  • rmagee 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    On this page under Chapter 2 is a project directory that contains the texture files.

  • Camohabodka 4 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Great tutorial, lame reader!

  • JYA 4 years, 9 months ago  | 

    FREE > French ( alternative/update ) version


  • StefanN 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Thank you very much! Great!

  • Seaton 4 years, 8 months ago  | 

    Hello, there is no Blend node at page 57 in Houdini 16.5.487.

    • rmagee 4 years, 7 months ago  | 

      Do you meant the bend node?

  • Tommy 2 4 years, 7 months ago  | 

    Thank you !

  • DarrenGoldsmith 4 years, 7 months ago  | 

    Hi folks!

    Maybe I'm being super thick here... but there are no project files? I can download the link ('houdini_foundations_intro_lesson') but once downloaded there's no content. Each of the folders is empty, even if I try accessing them via Houdini. I must be missing something though, because the 'intro-lesson' folder is nearly 90Mb. :/

    And are both the 'download soccerball project files', and 'download project files' supposed to be the same? If so, why are there two buttons?

    One more question... in the PDF, at the start of the lesson 'Part One: Explore the Houdini UI', it says to put the 'intro-lesson' folder into the 'Houdini Projects' folder in the Documents folder. There is no such folder at that location... again, unless I'm missing something very obvious.

  • rmagee 4 years, 7 months ago  | 

    The project files are all in the /tex folder - you need these part way through the lesson - otherwise you build up the project from scratch.

    The two buttons are the same - some people were missing the one under "project one" so we added another one above.

    On my windows system the Houdini Projects directory is in the documents directory - on other platforms the home directory might be different (on my Mac it is one level above documents) - the key is the Houdini Projects folder which will be created in home.

  • nAlex 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

    Thanks a lot for the amazing tools!

  • NagaPavan 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

    Thank you for finally providing a organized learning path

  • jakelael 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

    help with tutorial please. i'm on page 56, step 05.
    it says to add an attributecreate node after the platonic node. is this starting a new branch? or do i put it before the polyextrude1 node in branch1 or the subdivide2 node in branch2? regardless of those three options, when i look at the geometry spreadsheet, i don't see any primitives showing. obviously i'm doing something wrong, but i can't figure out what it is. thanks.

    • jakelael 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

      in fact... when i look at info for the attribcreate1 node, i see this error message:

      Unable to evaluate expression (
      SyntaxError: ('invalid syntax', ('', 1, 1, '@primnum'))

      Why might that be?

    • rmagee 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

      It needs to be inbetween the platonic and the subdivide node in the second branch. Then set the display flag on the ray node.

      You can see it at frame 06:20 in this video: https://vimeo.com/240187599

      • jakelael 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

        perfect. thanks, Robert!

        • jakelael 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

          vimeo url doesn't seem to work though.

          • rmagee 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

            Sorry - meant this URL: https://vimeo.com/228373576

            Timecode - 09:47

            • jakelael 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

              thank you!

  • amanedu 4 years, 6 months ago  | 

    thank u

  • soe 4 years, 4 months ago  | 


  • LittleNinja 4 years, 4 months ago  | 

    Is part 5 coming anytime soon? Looking to get the print version but would like to wait for that if the wait is not too long.

  • bdf369 4 years, 4 months ago  | 

    Great tutorial! I wish there was a Unity version.

  • patrickykalo 4 years, 3 months ago  | 

    Thanks alot appreciate that!

  • JohnDraisey 4 years, 3 months ago  | 

    I'm fairly seasoned, and still learned a ton from this document. No more clicking Node Flags for me!

  • DancinPanda 4 years, 2 months ago  | 

    Thank you!

  • sdesilets 4 years, 1 month ago  | 

    I'm at page 62 section 2, it say to add a transform node to to the soccerball_geo object, I suppose i put it at the end of the chain, after the last subdivide (the one after the fuse) ?


  • teotigraphixllc 4 years, 1 month ago  | 

    Thanks for this great packed material.

  • drewmacstudio 3 years, 11 months ago  | 

    This has been a great intro to Houdini. I'm stuck on the bake for low-res though. It took a long time to figure out where to get the games baker from and now that I know how to add it to the out level area, it keeps failing on the bake. i've selected the high res and low res mesh as stated but I can't get it to work. Any help would be appreciated.

  • drewmacstudio 3 years, 11 months ago  | 

    ok, yep, I went and rebuilt the entire soccer ball, skipping the rigging and animating parts this time... same failure on the games baker. It seems like the games baker has been updated or changed in some way since it no longer opens from the shelf or is even included in the shelf by default like it shows in the tutorial so, at this point, I'm stuck.

    • clem.lysergy 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

      I used had the same problem and finally found the GameDev Simple Backer. Put it within the low res soccerball geo network at the end, then bring in the high res geometry for the second input with an object merge.


  • meirbekz 3 years, 11 months ago  | 


  • naky 3 years, 10 months ago  | 

    en versión español se podrá ver algún día??

  • aabirahammed 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

    Thanks a lot..

  • clem.lysergy 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

    This book is great, much better than the video tutorials on this site.

    I'm just having a problem with p65 step 6 - I'm not getting a Render tab on my box_object. I can see it when I select the soccerball_geo network.

    • clem.lysergy 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

      Ignore that, I can see the Render tab now. Actually I may have been being really stupid and viewed the params pane with it scrolled down slightly so it didn't show the tabs!!

      • clem.lysergy 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

        Though I'm now getting an error trying to output the files for game engines:

        Error rendering child: /out/rop_rbd_to_fbx1/filmboxfbx1

        Am I correct in understanding that this won't work in the Apprentice version because it's unable to export .fbx?

    • clem.lysergy 3 years, 9 months ago  | 

      OK I missed the lesson compatibility note - the Games Engine section won't work in Apprentice. Ah well, gonna have to cough up for Indie at some point anyway.

  • sICFX 3 years, 7 months ago  | 

    Not sure if it's a mistake on Page 48 of PDF:
    02. Select the polyextrude node and use the handle in the viewport to set a smaller Depth
    I guess it should be.... smaller Distance.

  • francisl 3 years, 7 months ago  | 

    slCFX: you're correct, its a typo error. it should be smaller Distance.

  • gfxmodastudio 3 years, 6 months ago  | 

    Thank you!

  • maximgehricke 3 years, 5 months ago  | 

    This is how I would wish every software developer would act! Good documentation, regurlary updated and expanded, for free.
    Thank you very much!

  • Mich_Angel 3 years, 5 months ago  | 

    Thank you this is awesome :D

  • davidave 3 years, 3 months ago  | 

    Is there going to be an updated version associated with the latest Houdini version moving forward?

  • revilo3d 3 years, 2 months ago  | 

    I can't express enough that this pdf is such a great resource for me, and I would really hope to see it continue and revised as we go forward. For now, It still works great but would be a shame to see this fall too far out of date.

    • rmagee 3 years, 2 months ago  | 

      Updates are in the works - will integrate Solaris into early videos and add some new ones. Thanks for the positive feedback.

  • JosephK_2019 3 years, 2 months ago  | 

    Thank you for the book! One small caveat: It would be great if the PDF had bookmarks as well as a clickable table of contents to quickly navigate to a section. InDesign (which the PDF was created with) should be able to do this automatically during PDF export.

  • prooxy2500 3 years ago  | 

    I am at
    Part 11 - step 7

    It wants me to "render to disk" it even says "watch the progress" as if it expects it to be relatively quick.

    But when I do so it takes a god awful long time. I actually mowed the yard, took the dog for a walk, showered and came back to see that it was only at 53% an 1.2hrs had gone by.

    Can't seem to figure out why it is taking 3 hours to render this example scene during the tutorial. I have been struggling to get the software to work for me.
    I have a
    12core 4.0 cpu
    128gs ram
    Samsun 970evo plus
    gtx 1080ti gpu

  • Shannifer 2 years, 10 months ago  | 

    Thank you so much!

  • mcmark64 10 months, 1 week ago  | 

    I see a post from 2 years, 3 months ago indicating that "Updates are in the works..." Is that still the case?

  • Patrick_Kalo 7 months, 2 weeks ago  | 

    Greetings from the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu!
    Indeed a well documented beginners guide. Great work!

    Thank you so much!

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