Learn about the interface and workspace of Substance 3D Designer.
Designer might seem intimidating at first, but, once you know what each part of the interface is for, it becomes much easier to understand.
A. Main Toolbar B. Explorer C. Graph D. Properties E. 2D View F. 3D View G. Library
Find primary menus and useful quick-access buttons.
The File menu lets you:
The Edit menu lets you Undo and Redo actions. The Edit menu also gives you access to the Preferences window where you can adjust application settings.
The Tools menu lets you adjust Substance Engine options. The Substance Engine is the process that calculates Substance graphs. In the Tools menu, you can pause, reset, and adjust settings of the Engine. The Tools menu also gives you access to the Plugin Manager.
The Windows menu lets manage the windows that make up the Designer interface. You can open new windows, toggle individual window visibility, or use Windows > Reset Layout to return Designer to its default state.
From the Help menu you can access resources such as Designer's documentation, tutorials, and release notes. You can also send us feedback and report bugs, or find more information on licensing and versions.
Manage packages and resources.
The Explorer panel is your main way of interacting with files and resources in Designer.
The Explorer panel lists all opened packages and shows their content. Right click packages, graphs, or other resources for a context-sensitive menu. All resources have a set of standard options that includes
Some resources have unique options that are only available in the right click menu. You can also right click an empty space in the Explorer panel to create a new, empty package.
There are buttons at the top of the Explorer panel to manage your resources. To enable these buttons, first select a package or graph.
If you click any resource, the Properties panel will update and show you the properties of the current selection.
You can open multiple Explorer panels. Use Windows > New Explorer to open another Explorer panel.
Create and build node-based graphs.
The Graph viewport is where you'll spend most of your time in Designer. It displays the graphs you build or open with Designer, and is where you can add, remove, and organize nodes.
There are two distinct areas: the toolbar and the display area.
The graph toolbar holds tools to help manage your graph and many of the most commonly used nodes. To help simplify things, buttons with colored backgrounds are nodes while other buttons are tools.
You can find the following tools on the main toolbar:
Click a node in the node toolbar to add it to the graph. The node toolbar holds Designer's atomic nodes. Atomic nodes are the fundamental nodes of Designer graphs, they're the building blocks you can use to create complex networks. For more information about nodes, see the Nodes Overview page.
The node toolbar is just one way to add nodes, and there are many more nodes available beyond those in the toolbar. The Build a Graph article has more information.
The graph display area holds the nodes that make up the graph. Place and connect nodes to create a graph that generates your textures.
Refer to the Build a Graph page for more information on working with the graph.
Modify context-sensitive properties.
The Properties panel is context-sensitive and displays parameters that change the behavior of your selected resource or node. Combined, the Graph panel and the Properties panel are where you'll spend most of your time in Designer.
Because of the high number of controls that can be shown at once, the Properties panel has categories to keep controls organized. Below you can read a description of the main categories:
The behavior of base parameters depends on inheritance method (). Relative means the node's behavior is defined elsewhere (either by the graph, or by a previously connected node). Absolute means it's set using the parameter controls. If a base parameter is grayed out, it's probably because the inheritance mode is set to Relative.
Get a context-sensitive image preview.
The 2D viewport displays the contents of your nodes. Double-click an image node in the graph and the 2D view displays the node's output.
Your interaction with the 2D viewport is limited to zooming and panning when zoomed in. You can zoom in and out by scrolling. Use the buttons in the lower right of the 2D viewport to control the zoom. You can also reset the zoom with the shortcut Z or focus on the canvas with F.
At the top of the 2D viewport you can find the following controls:
At the lower-left of the 2D view, buttons with additional functions can be found:
Interact with a 3D preview of your full material.
The 3D viewport displays your material. Unlike the 2D Viewport, by default it uses the output maps of your graph to render a full material. In the 3D viewport you can see how your channels, like base color, normal, and roughness, combine to create a final result.
To view your material in the 3D Viewport, right-click on an empty area in the graph display area, and select View Outputs in 3D View. You can also send individual maps to the 3D View by right-clicking on the node and selecting View in 3D View.
You can use a 3-button mouse and keyboard to interact with the viewport as follows:
The seven top menus are outlined below:
Find resources for your graphs.
In the Library panel, you have access to all of Designer's default content. To better understand the different types of nodes in the library, look at the Nodes Overview.
You can add content from the Library to your graph by simply dragging it into the graph display area. You can also use the spacebar or tab keyboard shortcuts while hovering over the graph display area to open a menu to quickly search for nodes.
The Library panel's large thumbnails can help you when looking for content. Adjust thumbnail size with the dropdown in the upper right ().
With the interface covered, you're ready to jump into the Core Concepts of Designer.
If you have a question or an idea to share, join other Designer users in the Substance 3D Designer Community. Get help, make suggestions that could be incorporated into Designer, or show off your work and techniques.
If you have new ideas for Designer nodes or features, share them with us here!