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Creating Volumetric Effects with Houdini

Clouds, Smoke, Haze and Fog with Robby Branham


In this introduction to creating volumetric effects in Houdini, Senior VFX Artist Robby Branham covers the principles of creating volumes using techniques including VDBs, metaballs, and Houdini’s Cloud FX Shelf tools. The workshop details an essential setup for creating clouds, which is then used as a template to create a large VDB library — useful for all general-purpose 3D environments.

This comprehensive, 12-chapter workshop covers the creation of both static and animated volume systems for convincing, industry-standard cloud, fog, haze, and smoke effects. Robby’s fast and efficient methods using both geometry and SOPs workflows give ultimate control when creating key volumetric shapes, and his techniques for adding micro details with Volume VOPs can be used extensively when creating a variety of environmental volumes.

The creation of the cover artwork is also explained, from the terrain layout and application of atmospheric elements, through to the lighting, rendering, and final composite. Rendering setups for both Mantra and Redshift are discussed, plus the workflow for exporting volumetrics from Houdini to Maya. Robby’s VDB library of static cloud, haze, fog, and mist volumes can also be downloaded with this workshop, along with the Houdini files,

Duration: 3h 09m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Robby Branham

Senior 3D generalist and compositing artist

Senior 3D generalist and compositing artist Robby Branham began his career working in commercial and feature film production in 2009. Since then, he has worked for studios such as Psyop, Digital Domain, Pixomondo, and Zoic. His work can be seen in film, commercials, and game cinematics, such as Microsoft’s ReCore and Supercell's Clash of Clans. Robby also teaches at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, where he is the Education Lead for the 3D Generalist track.

  • Working with Robby at Psyop has been one of the most creative experiences of my life, as well as an absolute pleasure. He is part of that rare breed of artists that get the perfect balance between technical knowledge and artistic genius, and all that while being a great friend. He was a true asset on key projects, working incredibly hard on projects like developing the lighting pipeline used for the whole Clash of Clans campaign. I can't recommend him enough for virtually any job that requires a solid technical background and an artistic taste

    - Jose M Andres Martin
    Senior Motion Graphic Artist - Riot Games