In this lesson, Mark Spevick explores Houdini’s Pyro FX tools. Starting on the shelf, he dives into the nodes and networks to show you how to refine the look of your simulation to achieve realistic fire. A number of topics are covered including fuel, temperature, microsolvers, opencl, the pyro shader and more.

To follow along, you can download the project files which include the tree geometry and the agent. There are start files for all three parts of this lesson and a final scene file if you want to explore the end results. The lessons get more challenging as you go along but all the information is provided to help you create impactful fire and flames.

Part 1 | Off the Shelf

In the first video, you will learn how to quickly set up and render a burning tree effect. You will set up the Pyro FX flames using shelf tools and then use OpenCL to speed up the simulation. You will also learn how to adjust the fuel source to get a nice look for your simulation. You will then work with the Pyro shader and set up the shot for rendering to disk.

  • Flames Shelf Tool: 0:46
  • Turn on OpenCL: 3:39
  • Adjust the Fuel Source: 4:23
  • Rendering the Fire: 9:11
  • Tweak the Pyro Shader: 14:18
  • Render Sequence: 18:13

Part 2 | Under the Hood

In this video, you will take a deeper look at the nodes that contribute to the burning tree effect and make changes to create a more realistic flame. You will learn how to split fuel and temperature, refine combustion, work with microsolvers, add smoke and customize the emitter. You will then set up a Volume light using the fire and render the sequence to disk.

  • Speed up the Flames: 1:15
  • Split Fuel and Temperature: 2:33
  • Refine Combustion: 13:21
  • Shape the Flames: 20:11
  • Custom Microsolvers: 24:41
  • Add Smoke: 35:32
  • Customize the Emitter: 41:49
  • Cache the Sim: 45:42
  • Volume Slices: 49:35
  • Render the Flames: 51:50
  • Render Settings: 1:03:25
  • Volume Light: 1:15:27

Part 3 | Next Steps

In the final video, you will learn how to create presets out of your existing simulation then apply them to a burning agent who walks through four trees igniting them along the way, You will learn how to make the fire work properly on a moving object and how to use clusters to more efficiently simulate the trees. You will then manage the pyro boxes to ensure that they only turn on when needed to make your overall simulation more efficient.

  • Save Presets: 1:29
  • Setup the Shot: 3:02
  • Add Pyro FX to the Agent: 6:15
  • Cache out the Sim: 16:15
  • Add Pyro FX Clusters to the Trees: 20:39
  • Apply Presets to the Trees: 32:44
  • Ignite Trees with Agent: 35:03
  • Manage Pyro Boxes: 43:43
  • Slow Down the Burn: 1:04:54
  • Pyro Shaders: 1:10:28
  • Volume Light: 1:13:04



Mark Spevick is the Head of 3D at Escape Studios, Pearson College London, and combines teaching with working at the highest level in the industry. He has 10 years working in industry and 6 working in higher education and teaching. He got his big break at Peerless Camera, the production house co-owned by Terry Gilliam, and worked on every Gilliam film from ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ to ‘The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus’, starring the late Heath Ledger. He also worked with director Martin Campbell on ‘Zorro’ and ‘Mask of Zorro’ before supervising on the set of ‘Casino Royale’. Mark also managed the CG team that worked on the parachute scene in ‘Angels and Demons’, on behalf of post-house Double Negative. Mark was heavily involved in the design and development of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

More from Mark Spevick


  • bao007fei 4 months ago  | 

    I learn a lot. Thank you for sharing:D

  • Ronit1996 4 months ago  | 

    Thanks a lot :)

  • KiLa 4 months ago  | 

    Very nice!

  • spev 4 months ago  | 

    Thanks for the kind comments

  • BabaJ 3 months, 4 weeks ago  | 

    I'm not a beginner and rarely do sim work...but I like having tuts like these that use the most recent versions of Houdini around..makes for a good view in refreshing ones memory. Thanks.

  • bao007fei 3 months, 4 weeks ago  | 

    I really like the way you make video into pieces, step by step. Eazy for beginner like me to follow. Hope we can see more from you, sir. Cheers:D

    • spev 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

      Pleased you like the format.. Hopefully there will be more.
      What subjects would you like to see?
      Best wishes

      • bao007fei 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

        I'm really new to Houdini. Any subject is treasure to me.
        For now, the most interesting things are particles/fire & smoke /fluid system.

  • Hossein Safaei 3 months, 4 weeks ago  | 

    thank you very much

  • Arihant 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    Thank you so much for sharing

  • JacobFX 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    thanks a lot....

  • pixeltrain 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    Thanks Mark!

  • ShibbyT3M 3 months ago  | 

    I'm using Houdini Apprentice 17.5 and can't seem to open the downloaded project files. Houdini immediately crashes upon attempting to open the file. Help?

  • nran 3 months ago  | 

    Head of 3D at Escape Studios making fire effect like this?

    how about this one?

  • aadish1234 2 months, 4 weeks ago  | 

    how to practice houdini .sir its tough to remember steps

  • fgillis 1 month ago  | 

    Thank you! Very helpful.

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