Creating Stained Glass Material in Substance Designer
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Found it here:, just in case anyone else is looking for it.

The link at the end is pointing back to the article. Couldn't find the Quad Remesher and I would really love to test it.

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Creating Stained Glass Material in Substance Designer
10 August, 2017

3d artist Vincent Dérozier created a detailed breakdown of the amazing setup, which allows creating fantastic stained glass, using various images as a base. You can even download the source file!

This Stained Glass Material is a work I made for a personal scene, The Hero’s Tomb. It’s basically an excuse to avoid creating random textures I will never put to good use afterward.
This way I can focus on each asset or material like an exciting challenge and ends up with a complete 3d scene.

To have a lot of freedom I chose to go for some kind of forgotten shrine and to avoid having too much freedom I chose a specific franchise, Zelda. Zelda is a wide, colorful and deep universe that contains a lot of thematics, visual codes or symbols I can use and transform.

With that in mind I start making a simple concept art. Nothing fancy or too precise, I just wanted to identify the main visual Guidelines and amount of work I will put in my scene.
Personal Projects can rapidly be abandoned because of the amount of work or slow updates. That’s why I chose a license like Zelda and start with the Hero pieces like the Hero Statue,
Floor recipe or Stained Glasses, just in order to stay motivated.

With the Configuration of my room I only have two spots for Stained Glasses, with the Statue in the center which means that I have to find two subjects. I rapidly thought about Zelda and Ganondorf, like the Saints or Angels representations you have in churches. It can work well with Link in the middle in term of composition and in term of symbolism as well.

During the design process I choose to go with a “front” position to give a more solemn look to my “Saints” representation but I rapidly decide to turn their head, that way they will look to the Link
statue once in the 3d scene.

Once in Photoshop to clean my Rough, I designed the final Layout of the Material. Even during this phase, I keep changing my design if a better Idea came along. I turn the head on the side, redraw Zelda face and create the Iron parts design. Everything is painted on separate layers in order to be used later on in Substance Designer as Masks.

I knew that I was going to use this texture as an Atlas which is different than Baked Textured. In this case, the texture layout came at the same time than the 3d asset to be sure to optimize the
placements. By playing with your Uv mesh you can create different kind of scenario or 3d Design, unlike baked materials. This step is a continuous back and forth between 3DSMAX and Photoshop to nail my design and texture Layout.

When I’m happy with my Design I can move to the Substance Designer Part where I will create the “sculpt” of my Stained Glasses and the surfaces I will use in Painter on that “sculpt”. For that I export separately all the Drawing Layers I cleaned in Photoshop.

Then I create an SBS where I import my exported maps and start shaping my surfaces. In Designer, I keep in mind that this SBS will not be my final material but just a step where I will sculpt my volumes and export some mandatory Painter textures like Curvature, Normal, AO, etc.

In order to stay efficient, I break down every parts in separate Graphs when it’s interesting. For example I planned to have several Lead layers, so I create a Lead Surface Graph where all the Lead
Sculpt happen. Kind of scripting that leads sculpt process.

hat way, I can just duplicate that Graph into my master graph and apply it to every Lead section. It really help keep consistency, win time and keep the Master graph Light and Clean.

Something important to do when you are creating Sub-graph like that is to put the Output Computation Option at No. Only keep that option to Yes on the Master graph, that way if you export
your SBS as an SBSAR, only the Master Graph Outputs will be exposed.

If you want to keep your Master Graph clean put the visible if the option of your Sub Graphs to false or 0. That way your Sub Graphs work when you are editing them but only the output you didn’t
flag will be accessible in the Master Graph. Creating Sub Graph and instancing them in other graphs is one of the most powerful feature of Substance Designer. It can be done for patterns, effects, surfaces, sculpts, etc.

When you want to create simple handmade shapes or masks, SVGs can be of a good help. They lack a lot of basic settings or feature but are complete enough to make you win a lot of time.
Sometimes procedural spawning is not accurate enough depending on what you are looking for, in those situations, SVGs can come in handy. Here I use it to draw my Tin Welds and to Mask some selection parts. When using it do not forget to put the quality to High, and click inside the SVG to refresh it.

Some of those Masks are not accurate enough and I don’t want to spend too much time cleaning them with edge detect, slope blurs and all so I just subtract in them with SVGs. Take few minutes to
create the Masks I need.

To finish with my Master Graph I create an output for every Mask or Maps I will need later on in Painter.

I create several basic Surfaces in different SBS and export them as SBSAR to be used in Painter. When it makes sense I expose parameters to play with.

Once in Painter I import the Masks and Maps I exported from my Master Graph. I put my Maps in the texture Set Slots and will use the Mask later on. In order to see what I’m doing, I import a simple 3d plane. It could be the mesh I made earlier.

Now it’s time for Magic, I simply stack my surfaces, creating folder for each. It helps me to be fast and efficient when it comes to masking and effects. Like in photoshop you work from bottom to top, from the core surfaces to the external ones like Patina or Dust. The main difference here is that you work on every startas at the same time in a non-destructive way.

I almost work on every Surface the same way, bottom, middle and top settings. I just add filters or extra fill layer from time to time to tweak some parts or create specific effects.

According to the way I want to use this Stained Glass material, I didn’t need a complex Glass Material with Alpha. On the contrary, I don’t want to be able to see through it, so I worked it like an opaque surface in Designer and the same way afterward in Painter.

According to the way I want to use this Stained Glass material, I didn’t need a complex Glass Material with Alpha. On the contrary, I don’t want to be able to see through it, so I worked it like an opaque surface in Designer and the same way afterward in Painter. I create a specific Emissive folder. Even if Light is not a surface it helps me to focus on this strata of my material. I can activate it in the Viewer Setting / Common Parameters.

Some extra parts like the painted element need not only to be in the emissive but in the material when the light is off. In order to do that I exported separately my paint layer and add it on top of my glass, pushing a little bit my height in order to have some kind of extra volume on it.

When I’m happy with the result I just made the renders in Iray, settings are really simple and it give you the final touch of a good render without going in an another engine. The only annoying thing about Iray, in this case, is that the emissive value is clamped to 10, you will maybe need to tweak this strata to obtain a very shiny result. Simple IBLs with enough contrast and color variations can be a good choice for this kind of materials.


To finish my renders I create particles Layers in Designer I put on top of everything in Photoshop. It creates some interesting volumetric particles to ground a little bit more your render. In order to create that I simply create an SBS where I splattered Noises and shapes. Yes, you can even use Designer for post effects. Even if it can seam a little bit longer to do, this kind of process is not that expensive if you want to use it in a real production. Overall this Material took me 4 days. It’s up to your requirements and pipeline of course, but this workflow could really come in handy,
especially if you have a lot of Stained Glasses to do.

To test this recipe, I spent less than an hour drawing the 80lvl logo and updating my material. At this point my SBS became a Stained Glass factory.
You can download all the sources of this 80lvl Stained Glass here:

Vincent Dérozier, Environment Artist at Ubisoft

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