Houdini – Tips and Tricks

SideFX’s Houdini is an amazing 3d-software but it’s learning curve is something many artists can struggle with. I’m still very new to Houdini myself and I’ll be using this page to collect bits and pieces of useful information I come across while learning, hopefully helping others on the same path.

Changing temp files directory

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Even if you have plenty of memory, you can easily run out when using Houdini and the program starts to use your hard drive to store temporary files. This is bad news if you are like me and have a small SSD drive as your C: drive, which is where the files are saved by default. To change this, we need to set up an environment variable.

If you don’t know where to find the environment variables, type in Advanced System to your search and it should give you the right panel. The button you are looking for is at the bottom of the Advanced-tab.

Let’s add a new System variable. Put “HOUDINI_TEMP_DIR” as the name and something like “D:\houdini_tmp“for value. Hit ok and you’re done, Houdini will now save all temporary files to your specified location.

Controlling the smoothing of normals

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Smoothing angle, smoothing groups, harden edge… different names for the same thing in various applications. All you want is to control the smoothing of the normals, and as with everything in Houdini, there’s many ways to do it. Facet and Edgecusp SOPs work, but also generate extra geometry and potentially break your model. Vertex does the job nicely, change the Keep Normal to Cusp Normal and set the angle to your liking.