Houdini: Creating a Fencing Tool

Work In Progress / 30 September 2019

Note: This post was originally written on May 22th 2019

It has been a few months since the did a project on Houdini. I wanted to go back to it so I do not loose the skills I have and also to improve what I already have. I decided to create a fencing tool since it’s a good starting point and actually a very versatile tool that could help us build levels faster (more on that at the end of the post).

Today’s Goals

  • I wanted to be able to draw a curve and generate a fence from it

  • I wanted the curve to conform to a terrain

  • I wanted to be able to control the fence appearance

What I Did

To achieve this, I had to design two different systems:

  • One to create a portion of the fence itself with a control panel that would later be used for controlling the digital asset.

  • Another one to draw a curve and generate the fence from it.

During today’s Personal Development Time, I was able to create both system, however, I didn’t have time to make the fence look appealing with many controls over its appearance.

I faced some challenge over the control of the normals and the fence orientation when ray casting it to the heightfield. Also, the ray casting created a very noisy result at first, so I had to change my approach to keep the input as simple as possible to make sure it was as clean as possible.

Future Improvement

  • I want to create a great digital asset for fence generation with multiple fence styles and controls

  • I want to add randomization of instances when generating the fence so not all sections look the same

  • I also want to see how I can include texture automation and see if I can integrate substance designer

  • I would like to make it compatible with close curve system and open ones (currently works with open)

Future Usage

This tool is the base of many other potential tools:

  • Replacing the fence with shelves and we can create the interior of shops and libraries very quickly

  • Replacing the mesh with lamppost and we can quickly dress the side of a road

  • Replace the fence mesh with houses and we can easily create streets and neighborhoods

  • This will need more work but I believe I can create from this tool a bridge system