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3D Landscapes with Houdini and Clarisse

Environment Building with James Miller


In this tutorial, Generalist James Miller takes an in-depth look at designing, lighting and compositing a landscape environment from beginning to end. Starting with Houdini's terrain tools, he builds up the landscape to fit the desired natural formations taken from photo reference. Following this, he imports this asset into Clarisse and takes a look into project construction, material building, and asset importing. Once this is all set up, he continues by laying out and lighting the shot, creating and animating a camera, and exploring the different ways we can view our shot in the package. For the cloud volumes, James goes back into Houdini and covers Volume VOPS to helps build the atmosphere, before returning to Clarisse to lay out these new assets for the render. The render is then taken into Nuke, where he explores relighting using AOVs, creating gizmos, building a skydome, and installing & using the p_world tools for matte work.

The goal of this tutorial is to take you through all the steps involved in a large environment build of a mountain landscape, and how they all link together, so you can experiment, play, and enjoy building up your own shots from beginning to end.

Duration: 314 Minutes

Format: HD 1920x1080

James Miller

Environment Artist, Dreamworks Animation

James Miller has been building environments for franchises such as Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fast and Furious and How to Train your Dragon since 2012, having worked in digital media since 2002. During this time he has worked for ILM, DreamWorks, and Double Negative as a Generalist and continues to thrive off finding new and exciting techniques to add to the proverbial bag of tricks. His environments vary wildly from photoreal to fantasy, but still always iconic ranging from dark and sinister to surreal. He also has a passion for teaching and finds sharing those tricks and techniques with others almost as exciting as discovering them in the first place. James shares first hand techniques from some of the shots he's done for Hollywood productions on his website vfxnomad.com.

  • I know few artists who are not only extremely talented but also passionate about what they do and are constantly pushing themselves. Joe Peterson is definitely one of them. I had the pleasure to work with Joe on many projects and I was very fortunate to able to exchange processes, techniques and knowledge in general which I truly believe has made me a better artist.

    - Fausto De Martini
    Freelance Digital Designer