Bag of Tricks

Houdini Bag of Tricks

Here is a Houdini bag of tricks that contains tips that were on the old site but I decided to package them up. Most are just small workflow tips or hotkeys but can be quite handy.

VEX Snippets

If you’re been playing with POP nodes, I’m sure you have noticed that little scary checkbox that says Use VEXpressions. Maybe you’ve dropped down one of the powerful Wrangle nodes but you decided you were not ready to tackle that little monster.

Well, Side Effects has packaged up some nice VEXpression snippets to help you out. Hidden away in the top right corner is a drop down menu that gives you access to some handy VEXpressions snippets. Not only are they useful, they can serve as a way to familiarize yourself with the syntax and how the expressions are structured. The POP nodes only contain a few snippets but if you look into the Wrangle nodes such as the Point or Attrib Wrangle, you will find a wider variety of snippets you can modify and learn from.

VEX Snippets
VEX Snippets

 

Split Panes

When you are jumping between different contexts, it can be a bit of a pain to go back and forth. A solution is to split the pane vertically or horizontally by using alt + [ or alt + ] respectively. Houdini will “lock” or not follow the selection. You can tell this by the yellow pin on the upper right side of the pane that becomes active. Now you can navigate around in one pane while keeping one of your network paths in view.

Split Panes
Split Panes

 

Tab Menu

If you can’t recall what a certain node in Houdini is called, it can be a bit time consuming going through each category in the Tab Menu list trying to find it. Here is handy tip for when you’re searching for that elusive node.

When you press the Tab key to bring up the node list, hit the Space bar and Houdini will show you all the nodes at once. The available nodes change depending in which context you are in. It’s a great way to scan all the nodes and learn about ones you might not have known were there.

Show All Tools
Show All Tools

 

 Keep Floating Windows on Top

If you open up floating windows such as a Python Shell or Spreadsheet, they may get sent back behind the main Houdini GUI. Annoying.  You can change this behavior in the preferences.

In the General User Interface section, click on the Keep Floating Windows on Top option and now your windows will float on top of the Houdini GUI.

Keep Floating Windows on Top
Keep Floating Windows on Top

 

Toggle Wireframe

Hitting the letter w will display the geometry as wireframe. Press it again and it will take you to the previous geometry display. What if you want to see your geometry as smooth shaded but occasionally toggle the wireframe on shaded. Press shift + w. Your welcome.

Toggle wireframe on shaded
Toggle wireframe on shaded

 

Auto Connect Nodes

We all know you can hit Tab, type, select your node and hit Enter to drop down a node. You then wire the nodes up accordingly. However, if you first select the node you are going to attach an operator to and then press Shift + Enter after you find your node, Houdini will automatically will wire the nodes up for you.

Auto connect nodes
Auto connect nodes

 

Color Picker Swatch Presets

You can save your custom colors to the Swatches in the color picker dialog by alt + left mouse clicking in the swatch area. You can ctrl + left mouse click to delete them. The swatches will persist between Houdini sessions.

Swatch Presets
Swatch Presets

 

Render & Display Flags

You can use the number 1 key to activate the Display flag on a node and the number 2 key to set the render flag.

The 80s Are Back

A lot of folk jumping into 3D these days are not familiar with 80s-style Euler tumbling. I thought it was a funny TV sitcom. You will see an option for this in the Houdini preferences under 3D Viewports. Houdini makes this the default. Basically, it means Houdini will not let you tilt the horizon or go upside-down by tumbling. You can still achieve them via keys such as space + ctrl + left mouse click to tilt.

Box Zoom

Here is one I didn’t find out about right away and used it in Maya way back in the days of yore. If you want to zoom in on a section of a model for example, drag a box from left to right to while pressing ctrl + alt + left mouse click. Drag the box from right to left to zoom out. Word of warning. I find it to be a bit finicky.

 ViewPort Views

If you are in object mode, pressing space bar + 1 gives you the perspective view. Pressing space bar + 2 gives you the top view. How about if you want to see the bottom view? Press space bar + 2 again and that will switch to the bottom view. Same with space bar + 3. If you press it once, it gives you the front view, press again and you get the back view. You can figure out what happens with space bar + 4.

Toggle Full Screen View

Here is one more in this Houdini bag of tricks. Want to maximize the viewport or maybe the Network view? Sure you do, go ahead and use ctrl + b. On OS X, this is command + b.

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990adjustments

990adjustments

I am a motion designer & developer based out of South Florida. When not designing or animating pixels, I wrangle some code. If all else fails, I watch Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy, or Three's Company reruns.