Nebula Creation Course

Hi everyone,

Building on my popular Nebula Generator in Blender, last year I decided to take things even further and used Houdini to create sophisticated nebula effects, deciding on the Redshift Renderer for its speed when rendering 3D volumes. The results are on my ArtStation:

The course itself is a culmination of that learning over the year, and after some long hours in the editing room, it certainly has been a labor of love.

So, I present to you the 3D Nebula Creation Course – here is the trailer:

The course videos start by assuming a very basic knowledge of Houdini and Redshift, building in complexity as time goes on.  

The 3 hours of step-by-step 4K videos have sample Houdini Indie files for each stage of my process, including:

  • Creation of customizable cloud set ups using VDBs and Volume VOPs.
  • Adding customizable effects such as stars and volumetric gas.
  • Setting up an automated lighting rig.
  • Using meta-ball objects and particles to shape the nebula.
  • Rendering the nebula for both stills and animation.
  • Post processing techniques on the final result.

I hope you’ll find it useful – for more info, screenshots and pre-requisites, visit the course page on Gumroad, and if you have any questions do get in touch.

Using L Systems to model cities

I’d been meaning to research L Systems in Houdini for some time, and wow had I been missing something. I first came across them in some of Akira Saito‘s posts where he had made some interesting mech-like beings using their organic structure:

A recent tweet from Akira Saito

I’d squinted at them before in Houdini’s L System documentation but didn’t really make sense of it. I then came across a great in-depth tutorial (if you’re as geeky as me it’s well worth the time) by the eloquent houdinikitchen who overviews the theory well with lots of examples to give a good understanding:

HoudiniKitchen’s tutorial on L-Systems

The basic idea is that you provide a set of simpl(ish) instructions called Turtle commands that describe a starting state, such as:

F+FF

…which means “Branch up one (F), rotate 90 degrees (+), and then branch up twice (FF)

Then you give it more ‘simple’ rules using the same language that alter this basic structure every generation, such as:

F=FF++F++F+F++F-F

…which says “next generation, replace all the Fs in the previous statement with the instructions here”.

This can give rise to some complex plant-like structures like the ones shipped with Houdini:

Basic L-System Tree

But interestingly you can create things like hexagonal structures as well. After a little experimentation I quickly got what looks like a snowflake:

I then tweaked the “Generations” parameter so that Houdini was part-way through a generation, which gives a more distorted structure like this:

The same hexaganol structure but at generation 4.8

I then used my own random 3D Shape Generator node and a Copy to Points node to randomly create building like structures for each point in the ‘tree’ and got this effect:

Zoomed out…
…zoomed in a bit more….
…and closer

You can download the sample file here – it will require the Shape Generator asset to work, which maybe you’ll humbly consider supporting me by taking a look at it on Gumroad here: