Surrealistic Visualisations with Procedural Tech

Surrealistic Visualisations with Procedural Tech

3d artist Andre Kostin talks about the use of procedural tools and the way he creates his impressive surrealistic images.

3d artist Andre Kostin talks about the use of procedural tools and the way he creates his impressive surrealistic images.



My name is Andre. Right after school I was lucky enough to work on basic Motion graphics, worked in print for a year, moved to compositing and somewhen around summer 2011 finally got into 3D in C4D. For the past five years I’ve been freelancing and primarily worked on commercials, both over the net and on site with countless awesome people. At this moment I’m working on concert visuals for a DJ duo called The Chainsmokers.


Aside from loving life and art obviously, I’m just inspired by anything visually appealing. Be it cinema, photography, games, comics, fashion, architecture etc. Have a big weakness for Sci-Fi and unusual structures like monuments or well planned public spaces.



It really rekindled my old flame for CG. Everyone who got into 3D remembers that moment when some displaced sphere is the most awesome thing ever. That’s how I feel about Houdini at the moment. In the near future I want to create big structures with it, or cities and things alike.


What’s so interesting about it is that you can literally generate anything if you can translate. Most recently been looking into DLA, 3D automata, reaction diffusion and any paper or any code you find on the net will translate to Houdini. Speaking of translation, I love how Houdini to Arnold works.

Scene Production


Generally trying to use Houdini  for anything where other programs choke on. This particular scene you mean, was just inspired by some visit to the coast.

Initially started with Lidar data from USGS from a coastal area close to San Francisco that was the highest res data I could find at that moment. Think it was 0.8m/px. I was really surprised how they split trees, land area etc. into separate point cloud layers.

Converting the point cloud to some displacement map looked like this:



Also my first attempt to load big sat data into as .tx. It was 78x35k and fast.

Three steps were done in Houdini:

  1. The volumes; for both the clouds and the fog above the water surface.
  2. Some facet displacement on the foreground to make the world look crumbling apart.
  3. And finally some curve camera projection for the black lines that are rotated a bit to have some kind of direction.

Desert with Dunes


This scene is pretty simple. I just wanted to render a desert with dunes. More a C4D and Arnold project. I played with blurred ridged fractal shapes up until they looked like dunes.

Stuff like:



At some point was about to emit stuff from this landscape. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate anything about 3D, but this is where Arnold was exceptionally great. Many rendering engines have some arbitrary value for displacement and allow me some rant. 0-1 say. What does 0-1 mean to someone who wants 15m displacement up until they do the math?

Arnold displacement translated to the same result as some simple C4D displacement modifier.


Emitted stuff from the proxy in Houdini with billowy smoke. That stuff covered the whole frame.

At that time I was very exited on how to render vdb volumes. Tried to clip things per channel and generally just breaking stuff.



After some tries got to results like these:



I’m excited to use these tools in such different ways. You can literally use them For anything really. Wish so much some architect ladies and dudes are going to use it.

In games UE engine is so exiting, seeing things like this:

At some point I did care about .abc export to UE, but by now very sure people do great things with it no matter what. It’s also great for 3D printing as well. Why not?

Procedural Visualisation Technological Solutions

In a field where changes are part of your work, anything that happens automatically is a welcome helper. But that aside, I really believe that stuff like Houdini will become even more interesting pretty soon soon.

Thing like that can turn into anything.


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