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Substance 3D materials for Photoshop

  1. Photoshop User Guide
  2. Introduction to Photoshop
    1. Dream it. Make it.
    2. What's new in Photoshop
    3. Edit your first photo
    4. Create documents
    5. Photoshop | Common Questions
    6. Photoshop system requirements
    7. Get to know Photoshop
  3. Photoshop and other Adobe products and services
    1. Work with Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
    2. Work with Photoshop files in InDesign
    3. Substance 3D Materials for Photoshop
    4. Use the Capture in-app extension in Photoshop
  4. Photoshop on the iPad (not available in mainland China)
    1. Photoshop on the iPad | Common questions
    2. Get to know the workspace
    3. System requirements | Photoshop on the iPad
    4. Create, open, and export documents
    5. Add photos
    6. Work with layers
    7. Draw and paint with brushes
    8. Make selections and add masks
    9. Retouch your composites
    10. Work with adjustment layers
    11. Adjust the tonality of your composite with Curves
    12. Apply transform operations
    13. Crop and rotate your composites
    14. Rotate, pan, zoom, and reset the canvas
    15. Work with Type layers
    16. Work with Photoshop and Lightroom
    17. Get missing fonts in Photoshop on the iPad
    18. Japanese Text in Photoshop on the iPad
    19. Manage app settings
    20. Touch shortcuts and gestures
    21. Keyboard shortcuts
    22. Edit your image size
    23. Livestream as you create in Photoshop on the iPad
    24. Correct imperfections with the Healing Brush
    25. Create brushes in Capture and use them in Photoshop
    26. Work with Camera Raw files
    27. Create and work with Smart Objects
    28. Adjust exposure in your images with Dodge and Burn
  5. Photoshop on the web (not available in mainland China)
    1. Common questions
    2. System requirements
    3. Keyboard shortcuts
    4. Supported file types
    5. Introduction to the workspace
    6. Open and work with cloud documents
    7. Generative AI features
    8. Basic concepts of editing
    9. Quick Actions
    10. Work with layers
    11. Retouch images and remove imperfections
    12. Make quick selections
    13. Image improvements with Adjustment Layers
    14. Move, transform, and crop images
    15. Draw and paint
    16. Work with Type layers
    17. Work with anyone on the web
    18. Manage app settings
  6. Photoshop (beta) (not available in mainland China)
    1. Get started with Creative Cloud Beta apps
    2. Photoshop (beta) on the desktop
  7. Generative AI (not available in mainland China) 
    1. Common questions on generative AI in Photoshop
    2. Generative Fill in Photoshop on the desktop
    3. Generative Expand in Photoshop on the desktop
    4. Generative Fill in Photoshop on the iPad
    5. Generative Expand in Photoshop on the iPad
    6. Generative variations in Photoshop on the iPad
    7. Generative AI features in Photoshop on the web
  8. Content authenticity (not available in mainland China)
    1. Content credentials in Photoshop
    2. Identity and provenance for NFTs
    3. Connect accounts for creative attribution
  9. Cloud documents (not available in mainland China)
    1. Photoshop cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Photoshop cloud documents | Workflow questions
    3. Manage and work with cloud documents in Photoshop
    4. Upgrade cloud storage for Photoshop
    5. Unable to create or save a cloud document
    6. Solve Photoshop cloud document errors
    7. Collect cloud document sync logs
    8. Invite others to edit your cloud documents
    9. Share files and comment in-app
  10. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Preferences
    3. Learn faster with the Photoshop Discover Panel
    4. Create documents
    5. Place files
    6. Default keyboard shortcuts
    7. Customize keyboard shortcuts
    8. Tool galleries
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    11. Presets
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    13. Touch gestures
    14. Use the Touch Bar with Photoshop
    15. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    16. Technology previews
    17. Metadata and notes
    18. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    19. Place Photoshop images in other applications
    20. Rulers
    21. Show or hide non-printing Extras
    22. Specify columns for an image
    23. Undo and history
    24. Panels and menus
    25. Position elements with snapping
    26. Position with the Ruler tool
  11. Web, screen, and app design
    1. Photoshop for design
    2. Artboards
    3. Device Preview
    4. Copy CSS from layers
    5. Slice web pages
    6. HTML options for slices
    7. Modify slice layout
    8. Work with web graphics
    9. Create web photo galleries
  12. Image and color basics
    1. How to resize images
    2. Work with raster and vector images
    3. Image size and resolution
    4. Acquire images from cameras and scanners
    5. Create, open, and import images
    6. View images
    7. Invalid JPEG Marker error | Opening images
    8. Viewing multiple images
    9. Customize color pickers and swatches
    10. High dynamic range images
    11. Match colors in your image
    12. Convert between color modes
    13. Color modes
    14. Erase parts of an image
    15. Blending modes
    16. Choose colors
    17. Customize indexed color tables
    18. Image information
    19. Distort filters are unavailable
    20. About color
    21. Color and monochrome adjustments using channels
    22. Choose colors in the Color and Swatches panels
    23. Sample
    24. Color mode or Image mode
    25. Color cast
    26. Add a conditional mode change to an action
    27. Add swatches from HTML CSS and SVG
    28. Bit depth and preferences
  13. Layers
    1. Layer basics
    2. Nondestructive editing
    3. Create and manage layers and groups
    4. Select, group, and link layers
    5. Place images into frames
    6. Layer opacity and blending
    7. Mask layers
    8. Apply Smart Filters
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    10. Move, stack, and lock layers
    11. Mask layers with vector masks
    12. Manage layers and groups
    13. Layer effects and styles
    14. Edit layer masks
    15. Extract assets
    16. Reveal layers with clipping masks
    17. Generate image assets from layers
    18. Work with Smart Objects
    19. Blending modes
    20. Combine multiple images into a group portrait
    21. Combine images with Auto-Blend Layers
    22. Align and distribute layers
    23. Copy CSS from layers
    24. Load selections from a layer or layer mask's boundaries
    25. Knockout to reveal content from other layers
  14. Selections
    1. Get started with selections
    2. Make selections in your composite
    3. Select and Mask workspace
    4. Select with the marquee tools
    5. Select with the lasso tools
    6. Adjust pixel selections
    7. Move, copy, and delete selected pixels
    8. Create a temporary quick mask
    9. Select a color range in an image
    10. Convert between paths and selection borders
    11. Channel basics
    12. Save selections and alpha channel masks
    13. Select the image areas in focus
    14. Duplicate, split, and merge channels
    15. Channel calculations
  15. Image adjustments
    1. Replace object colors
    2. Perspective warp
    3. Reduce camera shake blurring
    4. Healing brush examples
    5. Export color lookup tables
    6. Adjust image sharpness and blur
    7. Understand color adjustments
    8. Apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment
    9. Adjust shadow and highlight detail
    10. Levels adjustment
    11. Adjust hue and saturation
    12. Adjust vibrance
    13. Adjust color saturation in image areas
    14. Make quick tonal adjustments
    15. Apply special color effects to images
    16. Enhance your image with color balance adjustments
    17. High dynamic range images
    18. View histograms and pixel values
    19. Match colors in your image
    20. Crop and straighten photos
    21. Convert a color image to black and white
    22. Adjustment and fill layers
    23. Curves adjustment
    24. Blending modes
    25. Target images for press
    26. Adjust color and tone with Levels and Curves eyedroppers
    27. Adjust HDR exposure and toning
    28. Dodge or burn image areas
    29. Make selective color adjustments
  16. Adobe Camera Raw
    1. Camera Raw system requirements
    2. What's new in Camera Raw
    3. Introduction to Camera Raw
    4. Create panoramas
    5. Supported lenses
    6. Vignette, grain, and dehaze effects in Camera Raw
    7. Default keyboard shortcuts
    8. Automatic perspective correction in Camera Raw
    9. Radial Filter in Camera Raw
    10. Manage Camera Raw settings
    11. Open, process, and save images in Camera Raw
    12. Repair images with the Enhanced Spot Removal tool in Camera Raw
    13. Rotate, crop, and adjust images
    14. Adjust color rendering in Camera Raw
    15. Process versions in Camera Raw
    16. Make local adjustments in Camera Raw
  17. Image repair and restoration
    1. Remove objects from your photos with Content-Aware Fill
    2. Content-Aware Patch and Move
    3. Retouch and repair photos
    4. Correct image distortion and noise
    5. Basic troubleshooting steps to fix most issues
  18. Image enhancement and transformation
    1. Replace sky in your images
    2. Transform objects
    3. Adjust crop, rotation, and canvas size
    4. How to crop and straighten photos
    5. Create and edit panoramic images
    6. Warp images, shapes, and paths
    7. Vanishing Point
    8. Content-aware scaling
    9. Transform images, shapes, and paths
  19. Drawing and painting
    1. Paint symmetrical patterns
    2. Draw rectangles and modify stroke options
    3. About drawing
    4. Draw and edit shapes
    5. Painting tools
    6. Create and modify brushes
    7. Blending modes
    8. Add color to paths
    9. Edit paths
    10. Paint with the Mixer Brush
    11. Brush presets
    12. Gradients
    13. Gradient interpolation
    14. Fill and stroke selections, layers, and paths
    15. Draw with the Pen tools
    16. Create patterns
    17. Generate a pattern using the Pattern Maker
    18. Manage paths
    19. Manage pattern libraries and presets
    20. Draw or paint with a graphics tablet
    21. Create textured brushes
    22. Add dynamic elements to brushes
    23. Gradient
    24. Paint stylized strokes with the Art History Brush
    25. Paint with a pattern
    26. Sync presets on multiple devices
    27. Migrate presets, actions, and settings
  20. Text
    1. Add and edit the text
    2. Unified Text Engine
    3. Work with OpenType SVG fonts
    4. Format characters
    5. Format paragraphs
    6. How to create type effects
    7. Edit text
    8. Line and character spacing
    9. Arabic and Hebrew type
    10. Fonts
    11. Troubleshoot fonts
    12. Asian type
    13. Create type
  21. Filters and effects
    1. Use the Liquify filter
    2. Use the Blur Gallery
    3. Filter basics
    4. Filter effects reference
    5. Add Lighting Effects
    6. Use the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
    7. Use the Oil Paint filter
    8. Use the Liquify filter
    9. Layer effects and styles
    10. Apply specific filters
    11. Smudge image areas
  22. Saving and exporting
    1. Save your files in Photoshop
    2. Export your files in Photoshop
    3. Supported file formats
    4. Save files in graphics formats
    5. Move designs between Photoshop and Illustrator
    6. Save and export video and animations
    7. Save PDF files
    8. Digimarc copyright protection
  23. Color Management
    1. Understanding color management
    2. Keeping colors consistent
    3. Color settings
    4. Duotones
    5. Work with color profiles
    6. Color-managing documents for online viewing
    7. Color-managing documents when printing
    8. Color-managing imported images
    9. Proofing colors
  24. Web, screen, and app design
    1. Photoshop for design
    2. Artboards
    3. Device Preview
    4. Copy CSS from layers
    5. Slice web pages
    6. HTML options for slices
    7. Modify slice layout
    8. Work with web graphics
    9. Create web photo galleries
  25. Video and animation
    1. Video editing in Photoshop
    2. Edit video and animation layers
    3. Video and animation overview
    4. Preview video and animations
    5. Paint frames in video layers
    6. Import video files and image sequences
    7. Create frame animations
    8. Creative Cloud 3D Animation (Preview)
    9. Create timeline animations
    10. Create images for video
  26. Printing
    1. Print 3D objects
    2. Print from Photoshop
    3. Print with color management
    4. Contact Sheets and PDF Presentations
    5. Print photos in a picture package layout
    6. Print spot colors
    7. Print images to a commercial printing press
    8. Improve color prints from Photoshop
    9. Troubleshoot printing problems | Photoshop
  27. Automation
    1. Creating actions
    2. Create data-driven graphics
    3. Scripting
    4. Process a batch of files
    5. Play and manage actions
    6. Add conditional actions
    7. About actions and the Actions panel
    8. Record tools in actions
    9. Add a conditional mode change to an action
    10. Photoshop UI toolkit for plug-ins and scripts
  28. Troubleshooting
    1. Fixed issues 
    2. Known issues
    3. Optimize Photoshop performance
    4. Basic troubleshooting
    5. Troubleshoot crash or freeze
    6. Troubleshoot program errors
    7. Troubleshoot scratch disk full errors
    8. Troubleshoot GPU and graphics driver issues
    9. Find missing tools
    10. Photoshop 3D | Common questions around discontinued features

Learn to use the Substance 3D materials with Photoshop to create realistic 3D effects earlier reserved for 3D native applications

Topics in this article:


With the October 2022 release of Photoshop 24.0, you can now use Substance 3D materials in your project without needing the Photoshop beta app.

Substance Materials Overview

Substance Materials can be created and customized using specialized Adobe applications, Substance 3D Designer or Substance 3D Sampler. Materials represent photorealistic surfaces (like cloth, stone, marble, brick, metal, etc.) with customizable attributes (like light reflectivity, lighting angles, patterns or random effects like scratches or aged material) that can be wrapped around objects in 3D-enabled applications to blend them realistically into a 3D composition.

Materials can be shared and used in Adobe and other 3rd party applications to add state-of-the-art realism to any 3D composition.

Pioneered by the Adobe Research team, the Substance Photoshop plugin is an extension that allows Photoshop users to have access to the power of Substance materials, formerly reserved for 3D native applications. Within Photoshop, these materials are great for boosting the photo-realism of architectural renditions or interior designs, or as added content options for more abstract digital creations. They can be thought of like Photoshop’s existing patterns, but with controls for limitless variations and a more sophisticated (and different) workflow for editing and applying than existing Photoshop patterns.  

Panel interface

Plugin interface

A. Materials and Lighting modes: Click the Materials or Lighting mode buttons at the top of the panel to reveal materials or lighting editing control panels. 

B. Search: The Search bar allows you to enter text searches to filter the high-quality materials section below (by name). 

C. Get materials: There are two huge libraries of materials on the web that can be browsed to find different materials for use in Photoshop:   one from Adobe,  and another from the Substance Community of users . At this time, only .sbsar  format materials are supported in the Photoshop plugin, so note that while additional content types can be browsed and downloaded from those sites, only the .sbsar files can be used in Photoshop.   

D. Your materials: The ‘Your materials’ section is where .sbsar materials downloaded from the web, and imported would appear. To get new materials from the Substance materials site noted above, you must first download the material, then use the ‘Add new materials’ button (the ‘+’ icon below the materials presets) in the plugin window to import the material. 

E. Built-in materials: Included materials appear as spherical previews. You can scroll down the list using the right scroll bar or enter text searches in the search bar to filter the results.  Select a material to reveal customizable sliders in the lower section of the panel. 

F. Adding/Deleting materials: Click the ‘+’ icon to add a material to the ‘Your materials’ section of the panel. The material must be pre-downloaded, and can only be in the .sbsar format to be used in Photoshop. To remove a material, hold the Command/Control key and click on the material in the panel.  Once selected, clicking the trash icon will remove these materials. Note: Built-in Adobe Substance materials cannot be removed.  

If a material used in the current layer is being deleted, Photoshop will warn you of this before asking if you would like to cancel or continue deleting the material. Default materials that ship with the plugin can be restored after they have been deleted by opening the Panel Menu and selecting "Restore default materials".

G. Materials Properties: Once a material is selected, its customizable attribute controls will appear in the lower section of the panel. You can scroll down to review additional controls using the scroll bar to the right for the lower section.   

H. Substance Properties: These are properties that vary for each specific material. These properties are purposely exposed by the material’s creator and are available for tweaking. These are available under Substance Properties and Technical Parameters.

I. Position: Controls that offset the X and Y position of the material, as well as the rotation.

J. Technical Parameters: These parameters allow you to fine-tune certain image options like Contrast, Hue, and Saturation.

Additional points to remember when working with the Substance 3D plugin

  • The panel is context-sensitive, meaning that it will not allow interaction unless there is a valid ‘target’ layer. A valid layer is either a pixel layer or a selection on a pixel layer, or a smart object. The plugin will either create a new layer or replace a material previously applied to a layer.  
  • Note that currently, the Photoshop plugin only supports .sbsar format; .sbs, .sbsm, .spsm are not supported.  
  • Panel Resize: You may resize the entire panel using the Resize control at the bottom and sides of the panel. The divider between the material previews and properties can be adjusted with the divider following the Built-in Materials section.  
Material properties

  • Material Properties: Two distinct groups of adjustable properties can be tweaked. Common properties (which are shared across all models) include — Resolution, Random Seed, Repeat X, Repeat Y, Position: Offset X and Offset Y, Repeat Uniformly/Repeat Scalar Uniform, and Rotation.

Variable material parameters (Substance Properties) are properties that vary by material and only the properties that are exposed by the material author are available for tweaking.

Substance properties

A few examples are — Embedded Presets, Integer Inputs, Float Inputs, Angle Inputs, Boolean Inputs, Color Inputs, and String Inputs.

Lighting Panel & Properties: The lighting applied to materials can be edited in the Lighting tab. Here there are controls to change the rotation and height of the lighting relative to the material’s surface: 

A. Change the color and exposure of the light 

B.  You can adjust these controls to modify how the light reflects on your material.

Lighting properties

Working with Materials 

  • Applying a Material: To apply a material, select one of the material previews in the panel while the layer is selected. This will duplicate the selected layer as a Smart Object with the selected material applied as a Smart Filter. To create additional material layers, select another layer with no materials applied before selecting a preview in the Materials tab.
  • Applying Materials to Layers with Marquee Selections: If a layer has a marquee selection, applying a material to that layer will create a duplicate of the selected layer as a Smart Object with the selected material applied as a Smart Filter and a layer mask created from the marquee selection. 
  • Applying Materials to Text Layers: Applying a material when a text layer is selected will create a new layer over the text as a Smart Object and the selected material applied as a Smart Filter. This layer will be set as a clipping mask to reveal the material only where there is text.
  • Duplicating Materials: When duplicating a material layer (shortcut: Ctrl/Command + J), a copy of the layer is made with the same material assigned to it. Any parameter adjustments made in the original will be copied over to the duplicate. 
  • Tiling Materials: In the material properties, the Repeat X and Repeat Y properties are automatically configured to the ratio of your image to avoid stretching. These can be adjusted individually to tile the material along the X and Y axis. Additionally, Repeat Uniformly can be enabled to adjust the tiling uniformly along both axes via the Repeat Uniform Scalar slider. This slider will preserve the current Repeat X and Repeat Y ratio. 
  • Adding a new Material Layer: To add a material layer, select one of the material presets. This will convert the currently selected layer into a Smart Object with a layer mask, and the selected Material will be applied as a Smart Filter. If a material layer already exists, selecting a non-material layer before selecting a preview in the Materials tab will convert it into a new material layer.
  • Updating material: When a material layer is selected, selecting another preview in the Materials tab will update the material in the selected layer.
  • Transforms: Before applying transformations, the material layer must be converted to a Smart Object. This parent Smart Object will display transformations applied to it. The material parameters can be adjusted by opening the Smart Object and selecting the material layer. Saving after making parameter changes will display those changes in the parent Smart Object.
  • Blending material layers: Blend modes can be used to improve the realism of your image. In the following example, a black and white copy of the base image is placed on top of the material layers and set to an Overlay blend mode. This has the effect of transferring lighting and shadows from the base image to your material layers. The blend mode of individual material layers or the Smart Objects containing them can also be adjusted to achieve the desired look.
Blending Material Layers

  • Smart Objects: Smart Objects are layers that preserve an image's source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer. Smart Objects can be used with substance materials to transform and make other secondary adjustments to a layer without altering the base material layer.
  • Masks: Material layers are created with a layer mask, which can be used to hide and reveal parts of the layer. When applying transformations to a layer, first unlink the layer mask and move it to a temporary layer before converting the layer to a Smart Object and applying the transformation, then re-attach the mask (see Transforms
  • Materials as brushes: Substance materials can also be used as brush presets. To start, load a new Substance material into a new document with a large resolution at a 1:1 ratio. Transparent Substance materials work best, such as Medium Road Eroded Cracks from the Adobe Substance 3D Assets page in the example below. Once the material layer is created, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name the preset as desired. In your working document, create a new layer, switch to the Brush Tool, and select your brush from the list. In the Brush Settings, attributes such as Spacing, Angle Jitter, and Size Jitter can be customized to randomize the brush strokes. Note that this method does not include the color information of the material in the brush.
Materials as Brushes

If you would like to include the color of a Substance Material in the brush, you can load the material into a document and sample it with the Mixer Brush tool set to Dry, Heavy Load.

The Brush settings can be adjusted as described previously, and the brush layer can be blended as desired.

Filters: Filters applied to material layers will be applied as Smart Filters. This type of non-destructive filter remains listed under the Smart Object and can be re-adjusted or turned on and off.

Common questions

How can I match the material’s lighting to my composition?

Matching the lighting on your material with the lighting of other images on your canvas can be done by editing the light’s settings in the Lighting tab of the plugin. While each composition or photo you are trying to match may have unique lighting, try to match it by looking at the direction of the strongest light in your photo. This might be from the sun in outdoor images, or a bright point of light in interior images. You can then tweak the exposure to adjust the brightness of your material’s light to match your image, and the color tone of the light. As you start working with materials layers, you will notice that the light’s effect can be seen more distinctly on some materials than on others. This depends on the type of material you are using, for example a rock wall material might show more distinct shadows and highlights (i.e., more contrast), while a flat paint material might show less. Generally, it’s helpful to adjust the material’s light settings until you get something that is close to your overall composition. 

Where can I get additional materials? 

Adobe offers a large repository of Substance 3D assets online. The plugin provides a direct link to this asset library (buttons next to the search field). More free materials shared by other Substance community members  can also be fetched from Substance 3D community assets.

How can I make my OWN materials presets? Should I learn how to use Substance Designer or Sampler?

You can create your own materials using Substance Designer or Substance Sampler

Substance 3D Designer is a node-based materials and model authoring tool. Nodes are used to provide deep levels of creative control with unique noises and patterns.

Check out Designer's Product Page for more details on Designer, as well as learning material in our Designer First Steps tutorial series.

Substance 3D Sampler transforms real-world photos into 3D materials. An extensive library of filters, generators, and effects let you quickly explore the endless variations with a familiar layer-based approach.

Check out Sampler's Product Page for more details on Sampler, as well as learning material in our Sampler First Steps tutorial series and some specifics on the Image to Material capabilities.

What material formats are supported? 

The plugin supports .sbsar files which could be generated from Substance Sampler or Designer. Substance Painter files are not supported in this version.

Can I export Materials presets from Painter, Stager, Dimension etc.?  

Materials from Substance Painter or Stager cannot be exported and imported in the plugin. Additional materials can be downloaded from Substance 3D assets or Substance 3D community assets websites.

Why and when should Substance materials be used in Photoshop?

Substance materials are a great replacement for any workflows in Photoshop where a texture or pattern is needed. Since Substance materials are parametric and highly customizable, you will find you have much more freedom to get unique visual results. Plus, you can always go back and edit them if you want to keep exploring.

How can I change the visual perspective of my material layer?

As described above you can convert your whole material layer to a new smart object and then use Photoshop’s transform controls such as skew or distort (found under the Edit > Transform menu) to adjust the perspective of your material. Another way to adjust your material layer’s perspective without converting it to a smart object is to use Photoshop’s Perspective warp (found under the Edit > Perspective warp menu item). This will allow you to tweak the visual perspective of your material layer nondestructively and see the results in real-time on your canvas. 

Why do some materials take longer to update when I change parameters? 

Materials can have large bitmaps integrated as part of the design, and these larger presents can slow down the rendering time. Please be patient with these larger models, and expect that sometimes very large bitmaps might be embedded in additional materials that you might download from the web.

Known issues

The following text may not be translated in some locales:

  • Updating...
  • Restore default materials

  • Material Deletion Warning 

  • The selected material is currently applied to a layer, if deleted, it will no longer be editable.

  • Default included materials can now be hidden and restored; Panel sections can be resized


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