The Gnomon Workshop – Creating Procedural Environments in Gaea and Houdini with Rasha Shalaby

The procedural nature of Gaea by Quadspinner empowers 3D artists and matte painters to craft impressive and realistic environments with its powerful tools. Incorporating Gaea into a Houdini workflow, Rasha Shalaby — an Environment Artist and Matte Painter with over 20 years of experience in VFX for film, TV, and game cinematics — uncovers how to create terrain assets such as icy cliffs and rocky terrains that are usually harder to achieve through height-field simulations alone.

In this 3.5-hour workshop, Rasha demonstrates how to create geometry using various erosion and warp techniques in Gaea, as well as how to pull data to help create textures and data maps for assets. She shares how to export textures and maps into Houdini for the lookdev and lighting stage, and reveals how to establish the look, lighting setup, and cameras for the environment in Houdini. The renders are set up in Arnold for the ultimate final look.

Rasha offers a quick tour through some of Houdini’s top tools for creating complex, layered surfaces — with a focus on those that help to maintain the rocky look of cliffs. An overview of how to create a 360-degree panorama of the environment is also included, showing how Rasha brings in her renders of the horizon and, with some painting, masking, and adjustments in Photoshop, is able to use the resulting image to later light the scene for the final render.

This workshop is packed with Rasha’s tips and tricks learned from more than 20 years working in the industry. Included for subscribers is a collection of helpful project files, including the meshes, textures files, and the Houdini project used in the workshop.




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