Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
We’ve talked with Evgeny Starostin about his beautiful work with Houdini. He described his production process and shares some tips of great CGI.
The tools I use are Houdini, Blender and After Effects. Before falling in love with Houdini, I used to work in Cinema 4D. Houdini skills made me needed more than ever. And the reason for that is the ability to do simulation, advanced rigs and, what is more important, have more freedom at editing.
Fluid Dragon was a two hour project. This was more like one of the daily experiments, not for the internet. But sometimes I want to show these experiments and so I start rendering.
The idea is based on Riot Games’ video for League of Legends’ MSI championship. I was blown away by this piece of art. Looking at all those fog creatures, I started thinking about mixing animal’s image with some element.
First of all, I needed dragon’s head. To save some time, and to skip sculpting and modeling, I decided to get one from the site with models for non-commercial use.
I went on to use this model with Houdini. I just had to open the file and start working with it. It so cool! You can use any file and then replace it when there is a need.
Building materials was easy too. Some may think Houdini makes you create your own shaders in VEX or build something from nods, but that’s not the case. Firstly, there are basic materials library, which are quite good. All you have to do is go to Material Palette and choose the one to work with.
Secondly, there are materials similar to the ones in Cinema 4D and 3ds Max.
Then, once you become experienced used, you can start building your own shaders.
To use the materials you can either place them on some specific detail in viewpoint, or use the material nod.
Fluid Dragon is based on basicliquid-shader with refraction turned off.
Adding the Fluid Look
To add the fluid look you have to choose emitter for the flow. I wanted it to be serpentine, so I cut downloaded model’s body to put emitter in its neck.
To start the simulation you can use basic tool called Emit Paricle Fluids.
Then you add curve and edit popcurveforce to make particles move along this curve.
That’s how it all looked in the end.
Nod flipfluidobject has parameter called Particle Separation. Decreasing it, will grant your simulation more details.
And don’t forget about saving your cache.
Houdini is all about flexibility. You can change anything you want: while creating your fluid dragon you can change or replace your base mesh, but all your work and simulation won’t disappear. This is so useful when working with commercial projects — you can start working with proxy models before final concepts are approved.
What is more, it provides all kinds of instruments. Other tools may require additional plugins or expansions, which will cost you time and money. With Houdini you get all in one and all you have to do is use its limitless potential.