Need help building a little bit of steam with a smoke/plasma effect

Hey guys,

Well I thought id hop around and make my first post after consulting a few VFX friends who all highly recommended this forum for all things VFX, so hopefully it works out good!

Ive been stuck for the best part of about a week now trying to learn how to make one specific effect in Houdini… To clarify, I am a complete beginner, as in, Ive never touched Houdini before, but I am familiar with a wide variety of other art tools/software so im not completely lost.

Either way, Im really struggling to build up steam in figuring out how to make this one specific thing that I need to make for a project im working on. Im not looking to become an expert in Houdini, I just need to build one graph that I understand, and can get something into Unreal Engine from.

Since im only allowed to post 2 links, ill put all my youtube links here and just refer to them as numbers. -

So. Im trying to create something that looks visually similar to #5 in my playlist, at approx ~ 1:35 - 1:43

From my POV, it looks like an extremely fast rotating tornado made from ‘plasma’ that coagulates and forms a column of glowing white up the centre.

So I set about making a tornado, and after a few days of playing around with various tutorial setups, I found one that actually seemed to scale well and generally seems to just make sense, I can change the force/length and it seems to create a column of spinning smoke. I created it from a tutorial on benwattsdesign titled “Quick Tip 04 - Custom Forces in Houdini”

The part that im now struggling to make ground on is the actual colouring/material that it is comprised of. Ive tried googling Houdini plasma, Houdini lightning, Houdini electric, and while I do find tutorials, some seem highly complex and I dont think ill be able to just snip the bits out I need and reapply them here, and others seem to be sort of non applicable.

I appreciate Houdini is a highly complex piece of software and it takes a lot of time to master, and I dont want to seem lazy by coming here asking for advice, but I hope you’ll understand my view. The best things I could find were these.

#1 This guy says this FX is curve based, its a shame he didnt make it as it seems like it would have explained how to make a ‘beam’ and make it glow, but he didnt, all I know is hes saying its a curve based effect.
#2 which seems to have elements of glow and smoke
#3 which is sort of electrical but dosent really look like plasma?
#4 but this seems really complex and I have no idea how id implement the glow into my simple tornado.

I would appreciate it if someone could just tell me which direction to actually walk here, these videos all seem different and some of these tutorials are hours long, which is going to be significantly longer whilst pausing and trying to copy the video, let alone understand it, and I just want to know if any seem to be along the right lines for what im trying to achieve, or if im just going to learn how to do something random in Houdini that will be absolutely useless in helping me achieve my desired effect.

Any advice/direction would be massively appreciated, hopefully I can figure out how to create this one thing and then go from there.

Kind Regards,