Creating Post-Apocalyptic Wood Smart Materials in Substance 3D Painter

Javad Rajabzade has returned to 80 Level to share the breakdown of the post-apocalyptic wood Smart Materials, showing how they were made in Substance 3D Painter.

Idea and Inspiration

The main idea of making this substance material series came when I saw a fabulous work of Tony Zenituim. In this material collection, I have focused on making the material effects as customizable as possible. I consistently include multiple anchors in the materials to store and apply these effects on the top layer as a mask. In this way, I can make material very similar to a procedural material in substance designer. My ultimate goal is to ensure that these materials are highly customizable and user-friendly for individuals seeking to produce realistic and visually appealing renders.

Gathering References

Before starting the texture creation process, I gathered reference images of different types of wood to help me better understand the unique characteristics of each type. This included images of the grain pattern, knots, and color variations. In every 3D project, gathering references is crucial. My reference sources included Google, Pinterest, and ArtStation.

As soon as I found many images of old stuff, I created a PureRef board and grouped them based on my needs. Furthermore, I have my own reference collection, which I take with my phone and use for nearly every project.

The Base Material

To begin, I usually start with a fill layer of color or a simple material from the Substance 3D Painter shelf similar to the reference. To make variation in base color, I drag-and-drop HSL filter to my layers and use a Smart Mask to mask the area that I want.

To making material look realistic most of the time, I use different noise layer by adding a black Mask with a Dirt Map and using Blur Slope or Blur Filter and by blending them with a Grunge Map you can get an interesting look.

Creating the Wood Pattern

My wood pattern is created using default textures and maps from SP and manipulated with filters to create something similar to my reference. Sometimes this is the most time-consuming part of my material creation.

Wood pattern 01 smart mask creation process

Wood pattern 02 smart mask creation process

Setting Up Surface Imperfections

To create a more realistic wood texture, I added various surface imperfections, such as scratches, dents, and nicks. These imperfections were created using the Metal Generator and Grunge Scratches, which include randomness which allowed me to customize them.

As you can see in the image below I use 2 different materials and blend them together with a Smart Mask to make damaged areas, which is actually an unusual technique, but because I’m selling these materials, I always think that if someone wants this effect be more apparent on the model, they can customize the damaged area as a separate material.

Full creation process

Also, I made my own a Smart Mask collection that I use in each project to speedup my workflow.


My main challenge is always to create a material close to the reference as possible. I always try a different method in each material for creating the same effect, using several filters and a generator to making an additional effect. In Wood Smart Material case, I don’t pick a Random Noise or Grunge to use for the dirt or damage.

I try to blend different layers to find the effect that makes sense to use on a wood that’s exposed to the outdoors. "Did the wood get dirty and damaged with water because it was used in the body of a ship?" "Or it was used In dry environment?" "How about moisture?" Those were the questions I asked myself before starting to make a material.

I am really pleased to share the breakdown with you. Thank you for reading this and also thanks to 80 Level. You can download the material pack hereIf you want to ask me anything, send me an email or PM on ArtStation.

Javad Rajabzade, Texture Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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