Course Overview

Class Description:

This introductory class will teach you the essentials of lighting, shading, and rendering in Karma. The class starts with creating a LOP Network, importing your objects and scene, and then delves into various light types and lighting techniques such as light instancing, light mixing, and light linking. The course further covers shading using MaterialX, working with texture maps, normal maps, and creating procedural shaders with displacement using 3D noises, ramps, and custom attributes. Additionally, you will learn how to save your settings as presets and materials as HDAs to reuse what you make in class. The class concludes with an understanding of the rendering process in Karma and exploring the differences between GPU (XPU) and CPU rendering.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the class, you will be able to create custom materials, lighting setups and LOP Networks that can be saved and re-used in a flash. You will have acquired a solid foundation of the Karma rendering workflow and feel comfortable in the Solaris context.

Course curriculum

    1. Files

    1. 1. Introduction

    2. 2. Karma vs. USD

    3. 3. Project File Overview

    1. 1. Using a LOP Net

    2. 2. SOP Import Node

    3. 3. Scene Import Node

    4. 4. Naming and Layers

    1. 1. Display Settings

    2. 2. Dome Light

    3. 3. Area Light

    4. 4. Using a Custom Shelf

    5. 5. Light Mixer

    6. 6. Light Instancing

    1. 1. Material Library

    2. 2. Snaps

    3. 3. MaterialX

    4. 4. MaterialX Presets

    5. 5. Assigning Materials

    6. 6. Using Attributes in Karma Materials

    7. 7. Color, Roughness, and Transmission

    8. 8. Excluding Groups from Textures

    9. 9. Creating an Image Texture HDA

    1. 1. Perlin Noise

    2. 2. Mix

    3. 3. Worley Noise and Ramps

    4. 4. Using Rest with Displacement

    5. 5. Color Ramps

    6. 6. Volume Materials

    7. 7. Assigning Materials by Groups

    8. 8. Adjusting Material Attributes with Masks

Intro to Karma

  • $45.00
  • 45 lessons
  • 3.5 hours of video content

Session 1

Intro to Karma

You will be able to create custom materials, lighting setups, and LOP Networks that can be saved and re-used in a flash. You will have acquired a solid foundation of the Karma rendering workflow and feel comfortable in the Solaris context.
  1. Lopnet
    • Importing Scenes
    • Import Sops
    • Cameras
    • Organization
      • Saving to Gallery and Shelf
  2. Lighting
    • Lighting Types
    • 3 point Lighting setup
    • Light Instancing
    • Light Mixer
    • Light Linker
    • Dome Lights and HDRIS
  3. Shading
    • MaterialX
    • Texture Maps
    • Normal Maps
    • Displacement
    • Custom Shading
      • 3d Noises
      • Ramps
      • Custom Attributes
    • Groups
    • HDAs and Material Presets
  4. Rendering
    • Sampling + Limits
    • Motion Blur + Depth of Field
    • XPU + CPU
    • AOVs


Debra Isaac

Founder of Houdini.School

Debra Isaac is a visual artist, animator, and the founder of Houdini.School. She teaches at UCLA in the Design Media Arts Dept. and has over 10 years of experience teaching Houdini. She loves community building, hosts monthly Houdini Battles, and co-organizes The Los Angeles Houdini User group (LAHUG). She is passionate about scientific visualization, motion graphics, and emerging technologies. Her clients have included Intel, Mattel, and The UCLA Art|Sci Center.



  1. Computer (Please see SideFx system requirements)
    1. A second monitor is recommended, but not necessary.
  2. Houdini (Apprentice License is free) 


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Multi-Session Courses
Students may request a refund up to 1 day before the start of the course. Students may also withdraw from Multi-Session Courses at any time and are entitled to a pro-rated refund. The withdrawal date must be 1 day before the next class they intend to drop.

On-Demand Courses
All on-demand courses are non-refundable.

How to Drop a Class
Please send a request to drop a class via email to [email protected].
Your written request to drop any or all of your classes must include:
  1. Student’s full name
  2. Name of the course(s) being dropped

See you in Class!