Houdini Desktop Setup


When I first started out using Houdini in 2017, I fumbled around in a time of discovery. Evolving over time into this Houdini desktop setup for tool building.

From Build Desktop to Technical.

Switch from the “Build” desktop to the “Technical” desktop. I will modify this desktop because I think the name is fitting. 🙂

Closing out & Minimize Tabs

  • Textport
  • Render Scheduler
  • Parameter Spreadsheet
  • Material Palette
  • Asset Browser
  • Animation Editor
  • Render View
  • Motion Fx View
  • Outliner
  • Timeline
Houdini Desktop Setup - Close panels

Add Panels & New Floating Panel

Add the following tabs to the lower area:
    – Geometry Spreadsheet – A must to inspect the way you are designing your data flow.
    – Performance Monitor – Find out how much time and memory your nodes are taking to compute.

Add the following tabs to the right area:
    – Python Panel – Drop in custom tool UIs

Window -> New Floating Panel. This is by default a network view. Maximize this window on a secondary monitor so that you have plenty of space for your networks.

Houdini Desktop Setup - Add panels

Save Current Desktop

Desktop Drop down menu -> Save Current Desktop.

This layout will now become your default “Technical” desktop.

If you somehow need to get the default state back, delete the “userDir/houdiniVersion/desktop/Technical.desk” and restart Houdini.

Houdini Desktop Setup - Save Desktop

Save Desktop

Bonus Tip

Hit the “D” key in the 3D viewport and in the “Display Options” panel select the “Guides” tab and set Geometry information to “Always on”. This will display important stats about the geometry you are working with in a overlay in the lower right corner of the 3d viewport.


I find this Houdini desktop setup for technical artists great for general tool development in Houdini. You will likely add things temporarily like the material palette and also adding multiple network panels that have different links may sometimes be useful.

This setup will evolve over time so I will keep this post updated if I find other panels that should be part of the base setup. If you have any suggestions on things I should absolutely always have open as part of this setup, please drop me a comment below.


About the Author

Christian Akesson

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Senior Technical Artist at Amazon Game Studios. Maya user since beta 1 in 1999. Mostly in Houdini these days...