Victor Hermosa talked about creating rock ground and concrete materials using DALL-E 2's AI and explained how Substance 3D tools helped them to achieve the desired result.
My name is Victor Hermosa, I’m currently working at Ubisoft Barcelona as a Junior Texture Artist. I have always been passionate about the work that textures and environments do in the video game industry, I have been studying for 2 years in my free time to learn Substance 3D Designer and texturing in Substance 3D Painter. At Ubisoft, I apply all my knowledge and I learn from the amazing texture team that we have.
I usually use Substance 3D Designer and Painter on a daily basis at work and for my personal projects. I learned mostly from free resources on the internet (like YouTube) and from a one-year course. My workflow consists of creating materials in Designer and exposing the parameters there, switching to Substance 3D Painter and playing around with them more until I get the result that I want. I got used to the Substance 3D software after hours of practicing. It is such a powerful tool for texturing assets, I really like how it works.
The Rock Ground + Concrete Project
I came up with this idea after watching several ArtStation posts about this new tool and found the option of having four images of the same texture and having a photo ready to be tiled. Some of my friends and I took our camera phones and a professional camera and went to a zone with more vegetation and nature in my hometown. I took pictures of rocky ground, wall rocks, and concrete. I wanted to use DALL-E 2 to get a nice height map so I could use my knowledge of Substance 3D Designer to create different masks with it and change the albedo color.
Substance 3D Tools
I used Substance 3D Sampler after getting the desired photo from DALL-E 2. Then, with the help of the Image to Material function, I could retouch some of the maps that I was going to use as AO, normal, and height. The one that I put more effort to get right is the height map because it’s the cornerstone for the final material.
I usually add a little Blur for the height map so there's a little bit less tessellation. As for the albedo, I usually approach it with some mask that I have with a Flood Fill to Random Grayscale and Histogram Scan. I connected a Blend with a simple Uniform Color so I could have an idea of which color I was going to follow.
After that, I start adding some grunge maps with different colors in the gradient map (the masks I created from the height map were useful during this step). I strongly recommend the Ben Wilson Color Variation node to get a quick albedo (you can get it for free on his ArtStation page).
The challenge for this new approach was using only the height map so the artist can always have the last word on how the material is going to look.
I used DALL-E 2 as the main tool for this project, trying to see what I could create with a few images taken with a phone. I think that the challenge is working with a technology that is still in development but has such great artistic potential. Using AI for material creation gives you the freedom that wasn't there before as you can have infinite results and iterations of the texture that you have in mind.
For my final render, I used Marmoset Toolbag 4, a top-down light with low brightness, and a little color tweaking. For the post-production settings, I used Shadows and Ambient Occlusions for a better look. I used a custom HDRI for the renders.
In my opinion, mastering Substance 3D Designer is quite difficult as it is a program that constantly gets updated, there are always multiple options to create the texture that you want, so it is a program that you are always learning. You can create some nice-looking materials after some months of practice or sometimes you can use more than Substance 3D Designer to try to get a good material without expending hours inside the software.
I always say that for a program that big you need time, patience, and effort, this is the key for almost everything out there. Never get frustrated with it and try it as many times as you can, I always put some more extra time into the albedo, it is my favorite part.
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