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  • Writer's pictureTharun Joseph

Simple procedural kelp in Houdini

Updated: Apr 17, 2023




Over the last few months we worked on creating a procedural system of kelp. The HDA is at its bare bones stage but can evolve into a a production set up in the near future. Here's the process.


Reference Gathering


Collecting reference images of the kelp under various lighting conditions.



Modeling Process


We start off with creating a line and a resample node so you can control the addition of points along the line. This will then later be used to copy the leaves.




The line is then simmed using a wire object and a wiresolver along with slight popwind force. The simulated wire is used to deform the original line using a wiredeform node.




The leaves of the kelp are a simple geometry with few booleans to give it an organic shape.



These leaves are then copied onto the points of the deformed line. For the sim, we’re using a simple vellum cloth simulation with a pop wind in the Z direction and an amplitude of 2.







Materials, Rendering and Compositing


We used the Redshift Standard material along with some redshift noise nodes to get some variation in the colours and also help it bring out some subsurface scattering.





As for the rendering we used the standard rendering pipeline along with outputting a few essential AOV’s required to bring out some of the key areas.


We used the combination of Volume Lighting, Subsurface scatter, Zdepth, Specular, Reflection and Ambient Occlusion AOV’s to get the best result in Compositing.


Here you can see the render layer build up




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