Substance Painter tips and tricks

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Mar 30, 2021

Substance Painter is a PBR texturing software that has a multitude of tools that allow us to work in different ways

The Mission

Learn new texturing methods.


  • Substance Painter

Gradients with position map

Gradients in Substance Painter can be complex to do if we don't use the right tool, for this example we are going to make a gradient from red to gray in this character's pants.

To start we will need to have the position map baked, If it isn't, you can bake it directly in Substance Painter.

We start by creating a fill layer on top of the base color layer.

Layer structure

We create a mask on the gradient layer and add a 3D linear gradient generator.

Gradient mask creation

Inside the generator we have the options of 3D position start and 3D position end, for the gradient to work correctly we have to pick the color of the model's position map.

Picking gradient direction

When we return to the material display mode you will see the result of the gradient.

Gradient creation

Bake lighting

Baking lighting is a very simple and very useful process that can help us to highlight parts of the model and if the final model is not going to be affected by real lighting it can provide a more realistic touch.

We will start by creating a fill layer with the properties that we want to give the light to which we will add a light generator.

Light mask projection

Inside the generator we will find the properties of the generator such as the direction and the height or the intensity.

Once we have everything configured to our liking we will have to change the layer fusion option in case the light can work well with overlay, soft light although the best way is to try which one best matches the result we are looking for.

Without light
With light layer in overlay

Anchor points

The anchor points are used for the intelligent masks to detect deformations of normals made in other layers that are not mapped to the normals map.

In this example we have a layer with height and we want the mask that we are going to create next to paint the borders automatically.

Heigh layer

The first step is on the deformation layer to create an anchor point and create a layer with a smart mask, this layer will always have to be above the layer with the anchor point.

How can we check if we activate the moment layer it still does not work correctly since it does not affect the edges of the deformation that we have created in the previous layer.

Curvature mask

To solve it we must enter the options of the smart mask and modify some attributes

the first is in microdetails change the first two parameters to true the second is at the bottom, in "Micro height", there we select anchor points and look for ours (its recommended to name the anchor points correctly) after doing this everything should work correctly.

Mask configuration
Mask configuration

Curvature mask using anchor point

Work the roughness

The roughness map is one of the necessary ones in a PBR material, and also one of the most important when it comes to giving detail to a model, so it is important that in the pbr models the roughness has work and detail.

In the first image we have a model with a practically flat roughness, in the second image we have the same model with a much more worked roughness.

Roughness without detail
Complex roughness

To achieve these results we can use smart masks, occlusion and curvature masks and of course textured brushes to give wear details.

Although it may seem very basic, the brightness changes of a material are what help to give a model realism.

Layer blending mode

Although this is something very obvious since it is used in most programs that work by layers in Substance it is really powerful this is because we can select different fusion modes for the different channels.

In the upper area of the layers you will find the channel selector and in the right part the layer fusion options.

Channel selector and layer blending mode

Example of "Normal blending" mode.

Layer with normal blending mode

Example of "Soft light blending" mode.

Soft light blending mode
Substance Painter
Nestor Llop

I am a 3D artist passionate about sculpting creatures and characters

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