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Houdini Vine Generation Tool

Team Project for the course:  Advanced Pipeline Topics for Animation and Game Art (53884) by Moshe Mahler. (2020 spring)  

Project: A traditional Japanese style revitalized world in Unreal

My role: Technical Artist

Software: Maya, Substance Painter, Substance Designer, Houdini, Unreal


In this art-focus project, we created an ancient Japanese environment. In order to make it more authentic, we started with doing the research. And we mainly used the Takeshima island in Japan as our reference. We were trying to create a revitalized world, and vines are one of the hero assets to achieve that atmosphere and tell the story. I took charge of the vine assets creation. And I found in order to add density and revitalization to our environment, we need a lot of different vine assets. So hand-model then will be a big amount of work. So I learned how to use Houdini to procedure generate vines. And in the final product, there are more than 20 different vines placed in the environment.

  • I created two different types of vines for performance reasons. 

  • The first one is the vines placed and surrounded other hero assets, for example, the Tori, and architecture. I created the geometry in Houdini. I could hand draw the shape of the branches in Houdini, and the tool will generate the branch geo and leaves automatically. So, it’s very art-directable. I also created the UV in Houdini and the branch texture in substance designer. 

  • The second type of vines are placed on the roof, or far away spot, that doesn’t necessarily need to have their 3d form. I exported the geo into Maya and substance designer to baked the geometry into the texture. And created the texture set and an alpha channel. And then import that back to Maya and created a set of simple meshes to reduce poly count.   

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