Enrico Tammekänd showed, how he created Painter Old Concrete for Jonas Ronnegard’s second Substance Masters series.
Well, this material actually is the first one for me that used so much layering which was very interesting to do. I tried to break it down into separate parts so that there will be the inner concrete, the holes or the broken off areas, the outer concrete panels, rebar and of course the worn out paint. It was a quite interesting experience to blend everything together with each other while maintaining the overall shape and details of each individual part that can be changed without affecting anything else.
I figured it would create much more realism if every layer has its own characteristics. That said, I was able to detail each and every part as I saw fit and therefore I didn’t have to figure out how to extract masks for them since they were already separated. And of course I try and focus on micro details, something that probably wouldn’t be noticed from far, but if you look closely, you’ll be able to see how the small bumps and noises bring the whole material into one and showing how time affected it.
When talking to Jonas, he suggested to try and do a cracked concrete with old paint since there aren’t many materials done with peeling effect. He gathered up some references that he saw best fit to the material but said that these were mostly as guides and nothing strict rather than just be creative. So I looked up a whole bunch of references myself as well and tried to replicate the details the best I could. Here I want to point out that for me, references play the key part in texture creation. To see what actually exists in the real world and how the environment affects the overall composition. Mostly every material that I create, I want it to be one of a kind and create something that pushes my skills rather than create something I know I’ll probably be able to do.
Regarding scale – I usually try and imagine how the texture will be used in given environment. I try and not to limit myself with actual real-world measures so I can be more creative and accidentally find something that may even work better or be entirely different. Even the concrete, when I did my first sketches, was a whole lot different, as it was intended to be more of a heavily cracked and I imagined it being used as one concrete panel and ended up creating 2×3 panels with focus more on the paint.
And with depth, I always try and use the maximum I can with the height map because you can always adjust the textures scale in game engines. I just love puffed up materials, making them unrealistically bigger than they really are and slowly build may graph up while dialing the depth back. That way I can see how far I can push the height map rather than playing it too safe.
As I mentioned before, I use a lot of references when I create my materials so yeah, my secret to organic looking materials are tons of real-world references and small details. The tiny bits and pieces with noises and variations are what sell the realism in my opinion.
It’s not that hard actually. Mostly it uses some warps for the irregularity so that the edges of the paint wouldn’t be too uniform and linear looking. I actually used pretty heavy warp so individual pieces were even created which was an outcome I didn’t expect in the beginning. That is one of the beauties of Substance Designer, that you can experiment so much and come up with something that wasn’t in the original conceptualized idea.
For the actual peeling effect or the flakes, I blurred the paint layer and subtracted the original one, creating smooth transition of the edges going upwards. Same technique was used with cracks as well, near the peeled off paint areas, that created the flakes look.
To be honest, a lot of times we went back and forth with the paint. Since I was working on it all the time, I got used to the whole look, but then Jonas saw that it was too uniform and told me a lot of times to try and break it off more. And having someone point out things that you wouldn’t see otherwise is an awesome feeling. I truly believe that was one aspect that helped me bring this material into life.