Mastering The Tools of Substance Designer
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Mastering The Tools of Substance Designer
30 November, 2017
Interview
Materials

We’ve talked to Alexander Prokopchuk about the newest version of Substance Designer. The artist discussed some of the new stuff from the Fall edition.

My name is Alexander and I am from Moscow, Russia. I’ve worked as а freelance interior visualization artist for quite some time, but now more and more I turn to indie game development and now I am in the process of creating all sort of silly prototypes.  There is nothing really exceptional about the projects I worked on, they all are more or less tech demos. For now, I want to find a perfect workflow for a very small team. And I do a lot of R&D for that purpose, learn a lot of tools and create all sort of test projects.

Working with Substance Designer

I found Substance Designer a couple of years ago, and that changed the way I create things a lot. It made my textures actually pretty. I am not a very good traditional artist, so it was a revolution for me. I created a lot of different materials for the interiors I am making as a freelancer.

Like this Folds Generator for sofas:

Also I did some technical nodes like my HSL merge material that helps me colorize materials.
I like how Procedural workflow lets you create tools for making your artwork, and allows you to reuse most of the things you make.

Your work process becomes less repetitive, and you can focus on new and more interesting things. You have more fun working on a texture and in the end you’re a lot more productive.

Also, every time I apply a modifier or use any uneditable filter in other software I feel like I am losing something. There is nothing like that in the procedural workflow. It just makes me less worried and provides me with more control. Overall, procedural workflow just makes my life better, and I want to use it everywhere. It is also fun to randomize settings in your material and see new interesting and unexpected results. So you’ve got your tools and flexible materials. And it feels like you can create anything. It feels like having super powers.

Shape Mapper

Shape Mapper is an amazing node. For me, it feels like Splatter Circular, but different. It also has nice distortion to it that makes me think “floral shapes out of a box”.  And floral patterns are not something easily done. It certainly will change the way I approach a lot of materials. It creates a very easy way to create very complex things very fast. I actually created a material breakdown that heavily relies on Shape Mapper. It also uses Gradient Linear 3 and Histogram Select.

It’s a rosette generator: you give it any material and it generates a rosette out of it. And you’ve got all sorts of parameters to change, like Leaf Count, Damage, and Scale for various elements. I wanted to try something like this in Substance Designer for a long time. And this node made me able to do that.

I have to make a lot more procedural architecture decorations in the future. We have just got a lot more tools to make it work.

Vector Morph and Swirl Node

What’s cool about Vector Morph is that it gives you different results compared to other existing warping methods. I quite like result of this combination:

 

Tile Generator + Vector Morph + Edge Detect + Flood Fill

I tried other warp methods and the results just weren’t the same. Swirl node Is very useful to have for texture creation, too. I created this stylized wood with it. It gives a very interesting result.

 

It was made for the texture atlas, so it’s designed as one plank. It was also a test of a non square workflow. But if you want something more diverse you can randomize the Swirl position just like with any transform node.

Cube 3D

Cube 3D is an interesting concept, and I  hope we will get more primitive shapes soon. It basically has all the uses of Shape node but in 3D. You can create interesting 3D details just with the tile generator and 3D Cube. You can also use it with Shape Mapper and it’s just looks cool.

I used Cube 3D to create the height for my stylized bricks experiment. It’s quite simple. I used two 3D cubes plugged into the tile generator that has also got a big update, and now can have more than one input.

  1. Two Cube 3D nodes
  2. Tile Generator
  3. Vector Morph
  4. Move the same texture a bit
  5. Use Histogram Select to select peaks
  6. Subtract them from the texture to get indentations
  7. Directional warp it with Flood Fill to Random Grayscale
  8. Blur it a bit

And you got yourself a very unusual and interesting height information very quickly.

Generators

We’ve got a whole new Splatter Circular. I created a very quick doodle with it. And things like this were a lot harder to do before.

I quickly generated this with Splatter Circular, processed it with Edge Detect, and then used Flood Fill To generate random grayscale input for Directional Warp to use on a Grunge map. Then quickly assembled maps for the manhole cover.

For bricks, I just created the outside bricks With Edge Detect, and reused my graph for Stylized Bricks to generate all the maps. And then I just used Multi Material Blend To combine those two maps. It’s very quick way of working and I really like it.

Flood Fill

Well, I used Flood Fill in almost every little experiment I’ve done. And it’s an incredibly powerful node.

Flood Fill + Edge Detect is a combination made in heaven. Now you can generate a lot of things very quickly.

Here I used it to create rounded shapes from some shapes blended together. I got a lot of variety out of it. Previously, I would have to use several generators to do this.

Or I can use it to generate slopes and random colors for the Stylized Bricks Material

And here I used Flood Fill to generate Materials out of a single image, compared to 2-3 images I would have to use for this type of thing before. It saves time and gives you a lot of freedom. I love this Flood Fill node and I feel like it’s going to be the one I will use a lot in my texturing process.I wish everyone luck with MATERIALIZE Contest, and can’t wait to see interesting solutions people going to come up with those new nodes.

Alexander Prokopchuk, Generalist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.

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