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  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-i I
  • Keywords: DYNAMIC FX


Spencer Lueders is currently a Senior FX Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Los Angeles. He's now here to work with you at CGWorkshops in this 8 week online, fully-mentored Houdini training course.

Spencer will cover a variety of material and get into many technical low level concepts, such as the maths, geometry, and trigonometry, etc involved in gaining complete control over an effect. When it comes to making great FX, there aren't any push-button solutions.  This course helps to lay that groundwork to understand what is going on under the 'hood'.

Spencer will take you step-by-step through the construction of a production ready scene in Houdini - right from looking at the UI and procedural modeling in Week 1, and eventually on to particles and fluids.  You will cover techniques that give complete control when you're creating cracks, wind effects, dissolving effects, as well as procedural modeling, to name a few..

Finally, you'll bring in the various elements you have created together in one final scene.

Don't miss the chance to learn from one of the industry's most experienced Houdini professionals.

Houdini's Apprentice education edition software is available as a free download, and is all you will need to take this workshop.


Week 1 - The Always Exciting Part - Learning the UI and Constructing a Model

1. Proceduralism

2. User Interfaces

3. Creating Networks

Welcome To Week 1. This week we will be covering Houdini’s Procedural workflow, the User Interface, and explore a few of Houdini’s modeling tools. The goal by the end of the first week is to have a comfort level with Houdini’s interface as we will go straight into more complicated workflows and concepts throughout the following weeks.

Week 2 - Copies are Cool, Copies are Cool, Copies are Cool - The Copy Operator and Noise

1. Copy Surface Operator

2. Stamping to Create Copy Variations

3. Noise

Can you feel the magic yet? For this week, we will cover the amazingness of the Copy Surface Operator (SOP) and its vast capabilities to create complex models, procedural animation and effects. We will also begin to cover the power of Noise and random values to give our geometry more organic behavior.

Week 3 - POPs is the Magic Word - Introduction to Particles

1. Particle fundamentals

2. Controlling simulations

3. Writing Simulations to Disk

4. Apply Geometry to Particles

Particles. The bread and butter of Houdini. We will get into what a particle is, how we can control it using dynamic grouping, collisions and splitting. We cover how to surface and apply geometry to our particles.

Week 4 - Is it me Or Are Particles Lazy? - Building Particle Emitters

1. Controlling Initial Velocity

2. Vectors - Length, Direction and Rotation

3. Dynamic Emitters

For this class, we will define where particles emit, set their initial velocity to direct our effect. We will learn how to set a vectors length, direction and rotation in order to maximize the amount of control we have.

Week 5 - Other Fun Particle Tricks To Show Your Friends - Dissolving Geometry

1. Particle Attributes

2. Integrating particles with geometry

3. Advection using Voxel Fields

Dissolving geometry is always a good trick to own. We will look at a method of creating a dissolving effect that will eat away our model. We will explore the use of volume fluids to advect our particles to create natural, fluid motion.

Week 6 - Sims are for Sucka’s! - Procedural Methods to create FX without simulation

1. Discuss goals when creating an effect
2. Geometry Attribute Types
3. Cover Math/Trigonometry topics to build robust effect

This week we will explore alternative methods for developing an effect without the use of simulations which can often allow for more flexibility, control, and increased efficiencies. We will get into using various attribute types as well a few trigonomic functions to produce a production level effect.

Week 7 - Let’s Flip for FLIP fluids - Introduction to FLIP fluids

1. Particle Fluid fundamentals
2. Controlling Fluids with custom forces

We will take a look at Houdini’s FLIP particle fluid solver which is useful for creating...FLUIDS! Particle Fluids are used to generate splashes, sand, and oil to name a few. Key areas we will explore are the fundamentals of FLIP, various ways to control the properties, emission, and build custom forces to get the most out of our simulation.

Week 8 - I Want To Be a Houdini When I Grow Up - Bringing It All Together

1. Bring Elements Learned Over Course Together

2. Render using Mantra.

The final week we will bring the various elements we have created together over the previous weeks. We will also explore some of the methods for rendering in Houdini.



  • I am expecting that each student have a working knowledge of another 3d software package.  Typically learning Houdini has a pretty steep learning curve and this class is designed to be fairly technical and students who do not have an understanding of general 3d concepts will quickly fall behind.


  • Houdini's Apprentice education edition software is available as a free download, and is all you will need to take this workshop.