Course Overview

Class Description:

In Build your Brain…we build a brain! We will use 3 different techniques for doing this depending on how far in the building process and then seamlessly transition between them to create a convincing single-shot growth setup.

In the closeup section of the shot, we learn how to split our soft body objects in a vellum sim, which gives us the most detail. Here you learn how to split objects while your vellum sim is running. For the medium shot, we learn how to split cells using POPs and make them look similar to our vellum cells with some SOP-level magic. In the final section of the shot, we will use VDB advection to complete our growth into a brain. Then we will blend all of these sections together into one smooth animation. Finally, we will render everything in Solaris (LOPS) that was used redshift to render the sequence but we will also discuss how to do this with Karma and materialX.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion you will have a good understanding of how to tackle a complex shot in Houdini, combining various simulation and SOP-based techniques to mix it all together, as well as rendering a scene in Solaris using Redshift or Karma.

Course curriculum

    1. Files

    1. 1. Tim Introduction

    2. 2. Demo Overview

    1. 1. Balloon Vellum

    2. 2. Individual Pressure Constraint

    3. 3. DOP Aspect

    4. 4. Q&A: What is Rest Length?

    5. 5. Types of Constraints in Vellum

    6. 6. Sourcing Geo

    7. 7. Increasing Rest Length

    8. 8. Vellum Constraint Properties-SOPs

    9. 9. SOP Solv & Removing Constraints

    10. 10. Compile Block

    1. 1. Fracture, Delete & Source Geo

    2. 2. Q&A: What do SOP Solvers Do?

    3. 3. Q&A: Dive into SOP go to DOP, and vice versa?

    4. 4. Removing Geo and Constraints

    5. 5. Sourcing

    6. 6. Fracturing Geo & Adding Vellum to Fracs

    7. 7. Using For Loop to Create Details

    8. 8. Fracturing with the For Each

    1. 1. Sourcing Pieces

    2. 2. Q&A: How are you Telling it to Split in Two?

    3. 3. Nvidia GPUs

    4. 4. Lower End Hardware

    5. 5. Increase Remesh to Increase Resolution

    6. 6. Velocity Damping and Substeps

    7. 7. Q&A: Randomize Cell Divide at Fixed Interval

    8. 8. Q&A: Add Noise after Connectivity, Blend Again

    1. 1. The Nucleus

    2. 2. Finding the Center

    3. 3. Fixing some Issues

    4. 4. Interpolating Position with AttWrangle

    5. 5. Incrementing Att for Interpolation

    6. 6. Extra Point Bug

    7. 7. Cache Out - Rest Attribute

About this course

  • $100.00
  • 153 lessons
  • 7.5 hours of video content

Course Teaser

Session 1

Close-up goodness

We will learn how to build the first section of the animation with vellum. We will learn how we can split our geometry during the simulation and continue simulating it without vellum breaking. With the time left over during this class, we will have a look at creating the headphone geometry for our brains.

Session 2

Midsize magic

For our midsize shot, we will be using POPs and grains. This class will discuss how we can do a pop-sim that behaves like cell division and add some SOP magic to make the resulting geometry look like cells. Using various SOP techniques, we will then learn how to transition between our vellum and POPs.

Session 3

Big brain time

For the final part of our sequence, we learn how we can take the resulting geometry and use it in a SOP solver to do some VDB advection to get the final formation of our brain. We are then left with the task to stitch these parts together seamlessly and write it all out so we can render it in Solaris.

Session 4

Sensual Shading // Carefree compositing

Here we bring it all together. We start lighting and shading it in Solaris. You will learn the basics of Solaris and how to build materials. We will also be using Redshift but will discuss some details about Karma and how you would approach this if you choose to use that instead.


Tim van Helsdingen

CG Generalist / Houdini FX Artist

My name is Tim and I'm a freelance CG Generalist / Houdini FX artist based in the Netherlands. I've worked as a freelance artist for studios from all around the globe, such as Framestore, MPC, MediaMonks, Ambassadors, Colorbleed, and various others over the years. I've also been making educational content for pretty much my entire adult life, and have been doing that for Houdini since 2016. If you've ever wanted to learn Houdini, big chance you've come across some of my content! I've also done many presentations at Houdini Hive sessions at FMX, Siggraph, and various other places.



  1. Reasonably powerful computer (At least 32 GB of RAM, 64 GB+ of RAM recommended) 
  2. Plenty of free storage (500 GB to 1 TB. Preferably NVME but HDD is okay.)
  3. Houdini Apprentice to follow along with the Houdini + Karma sections.
  4. Houdini Indie + Redshift to follow along with the redshift sections 
  5. Blackmagic Fusion / Resolve (for the compositing section) I will be using some paid plugins (Frischluft) but feel free to use something else.


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