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Jellyfish Fields

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? This nautical piece features a colorful and vibrant undersea haven made almost entirely procedurally in Houdini.

The Concept

"Jellyfish Fields" is an environment based on the Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. For my first project in Houdini, I thought that it would be a fun challenge to try to make a vibrant and stylized environment procedurally. It was a unique experience to use color and shape language to match the visual style of Spongebob while also trying to enhance the quality to modern-day 3D animation industry standard.


The Breakdown

I've included a few progress photos -- In order, we see here:

My Houdini viewport, my raw render, and my render after some color grading/comp work in Nuke and Photoshop.

This project started with a procedural Houdini heightfield, where I scattered grass that was affected by the vertex normals to slant in a windswept fashion. Other objects such as coral, seaweed, rocks, and sea urchins were also scattered in with certain parameters influencing their position for art direction.

Shown below are two things--

These are several procedural materials which I created in Substance Designer, for the purple coral structures, grass, and background cliffs. Several variations of these materials were applied to the geo in Houdini, with noise masks driving their variation.

Additionally, I demonstrate the workflow in which I was able to create the coral structures. While they could have been hand-sculpted in ZBrush, creating them this way in Houdini allowed me a system in which I could theoretically take any shape of geo and "Coral-ify" it, by punching in the two layers of small porous holes and scattering sea urchins on it.

Shown here is the underlying geo I used to create Spongebob's signature "Flower Clouds". Using curves that were converted into geo, I was able to create limitless variations of the flower shape, with their wobbliness driven by noise. I could then use Cloud and Cloud Noise nodes to create the fluffiness that we see in the final render, again with limitless variations depending on seed.


Software Used:

  • Houdini

  • Redshift

  • Maya

  • Adobe Substance 3D Painter

  • Adobe Substance 3D Designer

  • Adobe Photoshop

  • Adobe Premiere

  • Nuke

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