Procedural design systems in hard surface modeling for production

Just wanted to do a quick post on the progress i’ve made on procedural design systems for Hard Surface Mecha. I really love this stuff, i think it goes back to the impact Terminator the original movie had on me. Just like Saito talks about Mazinger Z.
I never thought i’d be here making this stuff in houdini so i might as well post about it. Maybe someone will find it useful.

Houdini is big and mean at first, then things begin to click in. I’ve been trying to understand the processes behind this type of work for a little over 6 months and finally i see real progress.

The idea again, is simple…… on paper at least. Make a machine that makes machines on its own. ! that’s it. Now go built it !
I always get a kick out of projects i know nothing about and this was wizardry to me. And to prove that if i can do it anyone can here’s my progress.

Anyone who’s seen Akira Saito’s work know about the possibilities of this approach to mecha design, and if you haven’t you must.

Please check his master work out

Procedural Mecha Design By Akira Saito

Also there’s a Talk by him in japanese with subtitles on Side fx talks section. Ok so what did i do ?

Iteration 0 : understanding how to control voronoi diagrams

This is the Manhattan / Distance approximation of voronoi

Once i got this it was time to begin making a system based on this approach.

Iteration One : Using bilateral symmetry and a solver based growth solution to generate the input points

Iteration two : Controlling extrusion based on the area of each primitive, looping over all primitives with same id. Also created a loop to add placeholders for bolts and the separation between panels

3D geometry test / manhattan not working 🙁

Iteration Three : The goal was to extrude based also on attributes like, perimeter, area, curvature. Also art direct the pattern creation with areas of high detail vs areas of visual rest. Made quite a leap here. Like i said houdini tends to clicks on you little by little.

High detail driven by area and perimeter, index values and for loops, new bolts also where added
Got the art direction right this time, as you can see i managed to achieve large visual rest areas vs detailed extrusions with more complex patterns
So yeah this is the current version, compiled in a for loop for speed, better bolts, Detail vs rest and some fun for shading and lighting. As you can see all three demo pics and procedurally generated with me not modeling one bit by hand. needles to say im fu**** Happy !

I’m still working on this and i think will be for a long time, at least until i can go from this surface design to actual 3D objects.