I had the pleasure to be a guest speaker in Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto this year and I showed Substance Designer to the wonderful students there. It was so good time and seeing students getting their hands on with procedural texture generation, even making their own – I thought how wonderful possibilities we actually have these days. Well actually the possibilities are infinite, rather.
I just love creating procedural materials. This Japanese kimono Substance that I created several years ago ended up in Adobe Substance Source few years ago and variation of this is still up there. In Substance Designer Creative ideas and execution of physically based rendering come up together with a kind of fascinating logic puzzle. I think this is fascinating like science.
Working with nodes can feel daunting at first. But actually it is not difficult at all. Because nodes are just like layers in Photoshop, except that these can be referenced multiple times by connecting them.
If you are new to this program, try creating a simple material first, and gradually build up the complexity. It takes some practise to get used to this. But the same node based workflow is also used in Houdini and Blender for example, so this software is no different. Nodes are all good fun.
The core of the Substance file is what is called “graph” which simply contains all the nodes and at last output nodes. Below, for example is a more simple carbon fiber material. The output nodes correspond to regular PBR output maps that are Basecolor, Normal, Roughness and Metallic in this case.
We can create wonderful and rich materials only by using the nodes that come with the software. But once you discover that all the nodes are actually graphs themselves that can actually be dived into, and their inner workings examined.. That really opens up the crazy amount of possibilities. And graphs can have their parameters exposed, in other words a slider interface can be created to adjust the parameters on fly of pretty much anything you see.
It all sounds wild almost like a programming. But don’t worry, there is no programming needed. This is all in good fun. Again, the nodes that come with the software are easy to use and comprehensive. I have been producing professional Substance materials for industrial company for three years now. I am hard pressed to count the times when I have had to create my own. The software is just that good.
Once you build few Substance materials you start to build up a kind of library of elements that you can reuse. Simple pattern generators for example. You can then start exposing their paramters for dynamic Substances that you can adjust later.
I am so glad that SonaGraf is much invested in Substance 3D Designer workflow.