Notes On a Few Choices

I wanted to include seveal different aspects of houdini into one piece of work as a demo, this lead to some less then optimum design choices….

UVTexture / Shaders

I wanted to create the sand using a shader i built, originnaly i wanted to create a multi level shader using the levels sop and some textures, after spending over 2 weeks on this i kind of had to let it go due to the timing.

THe sand was a simple grid, with a few displacements maps applied to it, and some minor sculting to made a dune shape.

I also tried to use a nurb model for a really nice looking dune, but it kept fracturing in the render, which is odd as it was a nerbs surface, and so NOT made from polys!

The sand was then texured and set to make quality shader output, i think this went a bit far and would have been better lower quality as it realyl showed up each bump.

The displacement map i made really gave the sand a distinct realist flow, i really liked the idea of merging low poly count models with high quality sand and effects.

I forgot to add a few elements to the final piece due to lack of time, i ment to add a littlle sand blowing effect on top of the dunes, this would of added a whole extra level off detail. There is some subtle lighting from the coloured lights, but its VERY subtle.


The walls i left pritty blank on purpose to allow for post production colouring and detailing in Photoshop, using only the shadows and shading to guide me on the 3d layer and paitning over with mutliply layers to match the 3d.

This was to demonstrate different approaches rather then lack of texturing skills!


The modelling was pritty basic, i split up the model into sections, foreground, mid, back, wall, ground clutter, and wall doodads. This ment when it came to rendering and paintingin photoshop

I also added in dummy models, such as the ship, to guide my photohop posittioning, and lighting required + and shadows it would make.

Vanishing Point / Photoshop

With a clear vanishing point layed out i was able to draw on guide lines in photoshop to help guide my use of stock images by lining them up along the perspective lines i drew. Not perfect, i would have rather done what i did in the first place and add in simple geometric shapes to paint over. But this would have needed more post planning!

Procedural Modelling

While i did model alot of the scene out of simple polys on purpose! alot of the doodads and clutter and wall elements were added in quite a cool houdini way. Using compy stamping, creep, scatter and expressions i was able to create randomly positioned, scaled and rotated objects around  the scene to give it a natural feel, and to add some shape to the wall. I enjoyed this method of Houdini and would use it alot more. Even using more complicated expressions. But due to the scale of my scene 100% accuracy was not needed.


Lighting was a bit of a mare to get right as i knew i wanted the shadows correct for the post production painting. In the end i had to start adding in extra lights , while obeying the distant light’s rules.

I added sphere lights into the doorway to give off a realistic fall off of light, shadows and exposure into the scene. There is some multi shadows, like a football stadium, but that was cool.

I also added some point light to boost the lighting and get a more workable shading area into the scene. I made sure i turned OFF specular contribution, as this was a big give away that i was cheating!

Image Composition (not compositing)

As far as artisticly, i tried to include the basic principles of art, golden ration, motion, sclae, direction etc.

I am quite pleased with the outcome, but there are alot of elemets i ment to address further! detailing inside the doors, light beam / faux HDR, blowing sand etc

Lessons learnt for next time, dont deal with printing companies who are clueless


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