Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
Substance Designer is not a very easy program to get into, although Allegorithmic has done a lot of changes and updates, making it more approachable for 3d artists. Still some help is almost welcomed and Josh Lynch is here to help for sure. He prepared a long video tutorial, which will teach you to learn how to create a realistic sand material inside of Substance Designer. It centers on the creation of realistic materials, which could be used in games or any other 3d production.
Here are just a couple of things Josh is going to touch in his tutorial:
- Creating a believable height / normal map with undulating sand and pebbles.
- Workflows and methods to create lived in details such as bird footprints and plant debris.
- Using masks and “multi-value grayscale maps” to isolate detail as well as create color variety across the surface of the texture.
This is a tutorial for experienced and intermediate level Substance Designer users. It’s three and a half hours, so there’s a lot of content out there.