Is it worth to learn houdini for Unreal vfx artist?

It seems like unreal growing up for modeling to fire and water simulation.
Is it worth to learn houdini alike fyro or desteuct something is worth to learn?

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Hello and welcome to the board!

Short answer: yes, but not only if you have the fundamentals and engine workflow down.

Long answer: Being comfortable with Houdini will give you a huge lead in getting a job as it is a skill that is sought after in game development. Most commonly you might use it to create VATs (Vertex Animation Textures) and flipbooks from fire/smoke sims. But there are plenty more use cases as generating vector fields, creating Houdini Engine assets for spline meshes, creating meshes for ground shattering…
But this should not be your first step when learning real-time VFX. If you do not know your way around the particle systems and material editors in game engine, or fundamentals like shape and timing, then you may have a rough time learning this software and the pipeline correctly. Also keep in mind, even though it does help you to be a more favorable hire, it doesn’t mean the company uses Houdini at all (partially because at a certain threshold, it may be to expensive to be worth it for a company). So you should still be comfortable creating and authoring VFX without it (there are other tools like embergen, VFXNinja or Blender that can create some of these. Or there might be another solution inside the engine that might make it possible)


Not being a houdini pro myself but having used it a couple of times, I pretty much agree with Mathew. If you’re already comfortable making VFX and you’ve got some good fundamentals, it can be a nice tool to add to your arsenal. If you’re still a beginner, working on the basics would probably give you more bang for your effort. And as Mathew said, the easier-to-use tools that do a lot of the things that would usually require houdini are getting better and better each year…

And all that is unless you specifically want to go for more of a tech artist or tools creation role in the future, of course…

Yes! I started learning Houdini first then went to Unreal (together it took me 6 months,3 months in Houdini, 3 months in Unreal). You can see my progress here
You’ll notice its value once you realize how much easier it is to do certain things inside it…also SideFX Labs tools are amazing!

I’d say no.
The vast majority of things you will be doing don’t require Houdini at all, and the things that you will be doing with Houdini (like VAT) are super easy, so you don’t actually need to learn Houdini to be able to use it.

As an artist your focus should probably be something like this :

  1. Basic VFX principles (Timing, Color, Shape) [Super broad]
  2. Surface level engine knowledge.
  3. Particle Simulation Tool knowledge and experience.
  4. Additional Tool knowledge (image editing, 3d modeling, simulation, animation, etc…) [Specialized]

Houdini can help with the 3d modeling, simulation, animation part, but it can easily be replaced by other tools.

Obviously if your interest is specifically with Houdini itself, you can still learn it and carve a niche out of that. You wouldn’t be the first.


Depends on the studio you are applying for.
We specifically look for vfx artists with Houdini experience as a lot of our stuff touches houdini at some point or the other. But we do also require Unreal knowledge as a must have.
At one point we were also looking for a specfic Houdini artist (rather than vfx artist).
So it’s very future proof to learn houdini.

I would advise to learn Niagara first though. As you will find way more opportunities.

Kind of a tough question to answer… sort of like “How long is a piece of string?”

What are you trying to achieve that you can’t currently do, or don’t currently have?

If you already have a job doing VFX and want to learn Houdini then I say go for it if you have the time and inclination.

If you don’t have a job doing VFX and don’t care about getting one and want to learn Houdini… I say again… go for it.

If you are just starting out and want to get a job doing VFX and already have a solid demo reel then again… go for it.

If you are just starting out and don’t have a solid demo reel… well, IMHO there are faster methods to building a solid foundation for VFX and faster methods to getting a solid demo reel.

Unreal alone can give you what you’re after if you are looking to put together a good demo. There are so many available textures, materials, etc. out there that you won’t need to even touch a program like Houdini.

Our studio uses Houdini, but it’s pretty much strictly for tech art which VFX does cross over into occasionally, but for US VFX artists don’t even have Houdini installed on their workstation.

But again there’s never anything wrong with learning something new.

Houdini, to me, (I’ve been around for a while) seems like a… “flavor of the month?”

It’s very popular but it’s also very expensive. So when people hear “Houdini” they immediately think, “ooooh.”

But in practice, it’s got a steep learning curve, in my experience they tend to update things regularly which is good, but because of those updates they hide other nodes/workflows because there is a “new” way to do something, which is bad.

So, for me, I didn’t find it that dazzling. Can it do cool stuff? Yes. Is it powerful? Yes. Can you do almost everything you need to do in VFX without touching Houdini? Yes.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I’m poo pooing Houdini and praising other methods. There are plenty of downfalls when it comes to, fume, phoenix, krakatoa, frost, realflow… and so on.

They each have their own quirks and they each come with their own headaches.

The greatest thing about Houdini (to me) is that it’s an “all in one” package. You can literally do everything in it… (although you REALLY need redshift because Mantra sucks… and yeah that’s my opinion but… it sucks.)

The worst thing about Houdini is the learning curve is steep and they move stuff around a lot so if you “learn” a method of doing something and then you don’t go back to Houdini for a couple months… that method might be so hidden that you HAVE to either learn the “new” way or figure out where the hell they hid the old way. OH and the price is friggin HIGH so if your studio doesn’t already have it… it might be a tough sell to get them to buy it for you.

Long answer I know but again… touch question to answer… hope that helped.