Volume Rendering Using Arnold

A Free Tutorial Series from Saber Jlassi

In this free tutorial series, Saber Jlassi will show you how to render fire, smoke, and clouds in Houdini using Arnold.

Arnold is one of the most important render engines for Houdini artists. It has been used on countless projects to craft realistic VFX work and we use it all the time to create incredible FX work. 

We thought it’d be fun to release a video tutorial series covering how to approach volume rendering using this tool. Below you will find the series in its entirety. 

Note that Arnold 5 and 6 utilizes a new version of the shader that is briefly explained in video 5 and is much easier to use. The content of this tutorial is 100% valid and is 100% applicable to the latest Arnold and Houdini version.

It’s best to use the latest shader that ships with Arnold 6 by using the IPR and tweaking the value you should see so you have a clear indication of what the result looks like.

The cloud chapter contains an updated hip file that is made using the latest Houdini and Arnold version.

Volume Rendering Using Arnold Tutorial Series: What to Expect

In this video below, you’ll learn what we’ll cover in this free tutorial series for Arnold.

Chapter 1: An Overview of Volume Rendering

Lessons in This Chapter:

  • – Intro To VDB Conversion.
  • – Intro to Arnold rendering.
  • – Volume shader explained.
  • – Light passes.
  • – Compositing.

Chapter 2: Explosion with Fire​

Lessons in This Chapter:

  • – Explosion intro.
  • – Setting render passes.
  • – Creating the fire shader.
  • – Setting up the render passes.
  • – Compositing

Chapter 3: Fire Rendering​

Lessons in This Chapter:

  • – Intro.
  • – Setting up the Fire shader.
  • – Shader tweaking part 1.
  • – Shader tweaking part2.
  • – Interactive lighting.

Chapter 4: Cloud Rendering

Lessons in This Chapter:

  • – Cloud intro.
  • – Cloud bed shading.
  • – Cloud bed export.
  • – Cloud bed instancing.
  • – Top cloud creation and shading.
  • – Top cloud instancing.
  • – Cloud bed atmospheric effect.
  • – Cloud base atmospheric effect.

Chapter 5: New Features​

Lessons in This Chapter:

  • – Introduction to using standard volume shader in Arnold 5.1.
  • – Adaptive sampling explained.
  • – Denoising using solidangle noice.
  • – Rendering live VDB.
  • – Rendering geometry as volumes.
  • – Rendering implicit surfaces (sdf).

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Saber Profile Image for Rebelway Online VFX Courses


Rebelway Founder  &  FX Supervisor

Saber started working in CG almost 15 years ago, and has occupied different positions as an artist in different countries around the world.

Before creating Rebelway, Saber worked as a Generalist TD at MPC, London, A Senior Lighting TD at Framestore,
A Senior Technical Director at Blizzard Entertainment,
A Senior FX Artist at Barnstorm VFX, during which he received a VES and an Emmy Awards nominations.
 His continuous pursuit of knowledge and learning inspired Saber to start Rebelway to teach others around the world, and to share his profound passion for the FX industry. 

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