Proceduralism: Unlock new potential in digital design

Harness algorithms to automate design processes and techniques to build dynamic, versatile creations.

A woman creates a digital rendering of a snowy mountain on a computer screen.
Terrain and textures can be scaled and randomized.

What is proceduralism?

Proceduralism is a computer graphics design method that uses algorithms to generate content systematically. Artists can create elements such as terrain, textures, or simulations and effects that can be scaled up efficiently and randomized to look unique and realistic. Procedural generation uses rules and parameters to automate creative processes, reducing manual labor in digital content creation by producing reusable assets that can be inserted in countless scenarios.


A digital rendering of a forest scene shows lifelike detail in trees and leaves.
Proceduralism is used extensively in landscape design. Image courtesy of Henry Yamin.

Improving workflows through proceduralism

The best way to understand how proceduralism impacts design workflows is to analyze the kind of projects where it’s useful across VFX and animation for movies, TV, games, and media.

Terrain generation: Proceduralism is extensively used for creating realistic terrains in applications like game development or landscape design. Whether you’re crafting mountains, rolling hills, canyons, and ravines for an epic movie or desert dunes, arctic tundra, and swampy wetlands for video game cutscenes, procedural algorithms can generate diverse and detailed landscapes with minimal
manual input.

3D models: Procedural modeling is perfect for creating complex 3D models, especially for objects with repetitive patterns or structures.

Textures and materials: From veiny forearms to dense foliage to wood grain patterns, procedural techniques can be used to generate intricate textures and materials, offering scalable and efficient ways to create diverse surface appearances in movie animations and games.

Simulations and effects: Proceduralism is a powerful technique in the field of visual effects. It can be used to create realistic simulations and effects like combustion, water, snow, and particles without having to define every detail.

Cityscapes and urban planning: Procedural generation is used by architects and urban planners to generate cityscapes and urban environments and to prototype placemaking ideas quickly for real-life architectural projects and game environments.


A designer views a flow chart on a computer screen in an office.

Proceduralism creates content based on rules and parameters.


How proceduralism works

Procedural generative design has three main aspects:

Algorithms: Procedural generation relies on algorithms to create content based on rules and parameters. These algorithms can be deterministic (generating the same result with the same inputs) or stochastic (introducing randomness for variation).

Parameters and rulesets: Users specify parameters and rulesets to guide the generation process. For terrain, this might include elevation rules and noise functions; for models, it could involve procedural rules for shapes, repetition, or variation.

Iterative processes: Each iteration can introduce more complexity or fine-tune specific aspects based on user preferences.


In a fantasy game scene, a woman leaves a crashed spaceship in the woods.
Game studios use proceduralism to create mythical worlds.

What does proceduralism look like in a studio environment?

A VFX studio might use procedural design techniques to generate highly detailed environments, creatures, and effects with less manual effort, or create expansive scenes such as alien landscapes or mythical realms.

An animation project could use procedural generation to create dynamic, adaptive environments that make it easier to create lifelike character animations that respond to the environment or user interactions. Video games can also use procedural effects to generate vast and realistic open-world environments.

Benefits of proceduralism

Procedural design effectively democratizes VFX: It grants even small-scale studios and indie artists a degree of creative complexity that’d be impossible otherwise.


Procedural techniques can efficiently generate and manipulate vast amounts of content with consistent quality. They help designers make adjustments during the creative process and iterate ideas without starting from scratch.


Parametric control

Artists use procedural design tools to adjust parameters down to the micro level so they can control every aspect of a design or animation and achieve a cohesive aesthetic.


Variety and randomization

Procedural animation lets artists create baseline animated assets and scale them infinitely into entire landscapes, or even planets. Proceduralism also makes it possible to avoid monotony in VFX effects and lets artists randomize content and maintain realism in their designs.



Procedural setups are often reusable by default and their workflows produce a large library of assets and templates that can be shared across related projects.


Automation of repetitive tasks

Procedurally generated assets can be reused and reproduced to fill VFX gaps in movies and games and free up creative professionals to focus on higher-level aspects of design, animation, or simulation.


Autodesk software for 3D proceduralism

3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software for film, games, and TV

Global illumination rendering software

Scale your studio’s rendering and simulation capabilities, while equipping artists with powerful modeling and animation tools

Proceduralism customer stories

Screenshot from "The Living System"


Pushing boundaries with fluid simulations

See how a visionary digital artist and director showcases his mastery of Bifrost fluid simulations in his latest project "The Living System," collaborating with Z by HP to create mesmerizing nature-inspired visuals.


Image courtesy of GMUNK

Software produce hundreds of videogame character assets with shared characteristics.


Bifrost for Maya helps streamline VFX

Learn how an award-winning studio uses Bifrost for Autodesk Maya to create immersive worlds and stunning effects for blockbusters like House of the DragonShazam! Fury of the Gods, and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.


Image courtesy of Pixomondo


Using Bifrost for Maya to create amazing imagery and deliver projects on time

Learn how this one-man creative operation provides full-service animation and VFX for TV commercials for companies like BBC, Google, and Volvo.


Image courtesy of Strangebox

Proceduralism resources

A collection of Autodesk’s best resources on proceduralism, covering real-life use cases for our suite of generative design tools and exploring the place of 3D worldbuilding in modern media and entertainment.

This Autodesk University course explains how procedural worldbuilding can be used to generate detailed 3D environments for games and VR applications.


Watch a three-part video series about creating a modular crystal growth system in Bifrost, from adjusting points to modular setups, instances, and instances hierarchies.

This five-part video series explores creating procedural 3D text effects for advertising.


Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about proceduralism

What is a procedural workflow?

A procedural workflow is a method for creating, manipulating, and scaling digital content using preset algorithms that dictate how the elements behave in different situations.

What is the difference between procedural and parametric modeling?

Procedural models generate content algorithmically using a specific set of rules; parametric modeling involves defining a set of parameters and using them to create and modify digital models with a focus on establishing relationships between these parameters to control the shape, size, and other properties of the model.

What are the advantages of procedural modeling?

Procedural modeling enables artists to create detailed 3D content at scale, adapt it to fit multiple scenarios (like variations of a model or scene) without being repetitive or monotonous.