Stylized Material Design With Substance Designer

Stylized Material Design With Substance Designer

3d artist Hugo Carreiro Beyer showed how he uses Substance Designer to craft great looking stylized materials for video games.

We’ve had the pleasure of talking with Hugo Carreiro Beyer about the workflow, which allows building great looking materials for video games.


Hi! My full name is Hugo Carreiro Beyer, I come from Curitiba, Brazil. I love hobbies like shoot and aim, playing RTS games and listening to music. I worked on a big number of games, mostly contract work. The list is big so i’ll leave you a link.  Recently I came to work for Sparkypants Studios creating the Dropzone game. I think the most interesting projects I worked on were The Order 1886 and Dropzone. Two completely different artistic styles and gameplay, but learned a lot from both.

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Where does your fascination with Substance Designer come from? You’ve done an outstanding work with this software and I’m interested in what makes it so interesting for you?

I was always into node graph applications, since Quest3D arrived, even though a friend of mine Andre Ivankio would show me the beauty of that kind of workflow. The first instance seeing Substance Designer was in 2009, when I was working for Abandon Interactive. Allegorithmic came by and showed us the power of the application, even though I didn’t give it much attention since that build still had a lot to improve. And they did! 2013 is when I seriously took a better look at it and decided I needed to understand it better, since a lot of people were using Houdini and World Machine, I felt that Substance Designer could give me the power to build my textures. As an autodidact I wanted to I go into a deep learning phase. Being at Ready at Dawn taught me a lot about zbrushing textures, but I just wanted more. Instead of taking a week to do one material, I was able to do the same in a day with Substance, that’s when I felt I could push more and more. On the side of a lot of other artists that pushed for the quality and participating on Allegorithmic, challenge gave me a big of insight into what the industry needed to change and get such an easier and faster approach. It’s why I can’t use anything else nowadays, I rarely touch Photoshop, not kidding. At Sparkypants I use 90% Substance Designer for all my materials, the rest is 3D Coat/Painter

Let’s talk about Shardbound’s environment. What were the main things that you had to do in this project? What were the main elements that you had to create here?

My goal was to build the entire environment and follow the concept given. Whatever you see in the screenshot I did. The hexagons, sand, rocks, tree, background, lighting.

Could you walk us through the method of production of the general stone hexes in the scene? It seems like you’ve created quite a variety of these materials, building a whole set of materials and assets from just one build in Substance Designer?

I think the basic steps of Shardbound was to build a style together with their team. The idea was to build hexagon blocks, and follow their concept, I sculpted a set of hexagon blocks and used Substance to materialize them. It was actually considerably easy to achieve since SD gives you worldspace normals and position maps to create the masks and gradients you need. So creating that style wasn’t a big deal at all. The composition came on placing the pieces together and following the client direction inside Unreal 4. Even the tree there is textured in Substance.
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Could you discuss some of the ways you’ve been building these outstanding brown rocks? The way you’ve integrated these layers in these materials is just astonishing. Could you please describe some of the ways you’ve built that?

The brown rocks are 3 ZBrush sculpted rocks, I have a world space UVs for the sand on top of it that I can paint through vertex color with a height mask. Since Unreal 4 supports instancing, I pretty much create the composition by positioning and stretching a bit the rocks to give the sense of foundation, erosion and earthed look. The only expensive part there is fillrate, they cross each other quite a lot.

Can you talk a little about the way you’ve managed to achieve these crisp shapes to underline the cartoony style? How would you advice approaching the creation of stylized materials in SD

I think gradients are the way to go. Specially in PBR. I’ve seen people using too much cavity and exaggerating it which breaks the look and you can separate the asset look a lot, specially rocks. I think the less cavity and the more gradient is better. Also the inverted ambient occlusion is your hero inside SD, use and abuse that function. You can get a very nice shading and subtle to give a better look to it. Also leave the normal map to do the job, albedo is not supposed to have a lot of detail, at least with that style.

Could you give some final recommendations to users, who want to achieve this amazing stylized materials? How should you approach this task and what’s the most efficient and fast way to build these kind of materials?

Sure, as I mentioned before, gradients, world space normals./position, inverted AO are your hero masks, use and abuse them, a bit of blurred blended on top of a layer can also take the contrast off and give a much smoother look. I have a node I use quite a lot, which I created a while ago, it’s called HBnoisepolisher. Grab it here. Thanks for interviewing me and I hope I helped a bit.

Hugo Beyer, Sr. Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 2

  • Matthew

    The HBnoisepolisher node is no longer available to download :(



    ·2 years ago·
  • Brandon Miracle

    Hugo Beyer, my texturing hero! Great write-up. Fantastic material work!


    Brandon Miracle

    ·3 years ago·

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Stylized Material Design With Substance Designer