Create a Project

Learn how to set up your Substance 3D Painter project to work in the best conditions.

Prepare your 3D mesh

With Adobe Substance 3D Painter, you can texture and paint 3D meshes. Prepare your meshes before importing them to Painter for the best results. 

Substance 3D Painter requires a 3D mesh to start a new project. These 3D Meshes are made of Polygons, which are made by combining vertices and edges which define faces. These faces can then have Material definition assigned, which become Texture Sets in the application.

Faces also have UV coordinates, which are a 2D representation of the mesh as it would be when unfolded. These coordinates are used to map a bitmap/texture onto the mesh surface. In Substance 3D Painter, this is where the information is saved when painting on the mesh surface.


To prepare a mesh for Painter, ensure that the mesh geometry is clean to avoid issues in the texturing process. Problems to look out for include:

  • Small triangles
  • Non-manifold geometry
  • Incorrect or invalid normals
  • Doubled vertices, edges, or faces


Painter and other 3D applications use UVs to understand how to apply textures to a 3D mesh. UVs are like wrapping paper with instructions on how to wrap the 3D mesh. The process of preparing UVs is often known as UV unwrapping as a result. Painter includes automatic UV unwrapping tools that you can use to create UVs for your mesh, however you will almost always get the best results by manually preparing your UVs. 

When you unwrap your UVs, look out for:

  • Overlapping UV islands
  • UV islands outside the 0-1 space
  • Stretched faces
  • Inconsistent texel density
Example of how a Jade Toad mesh is unfolded in 2D
Example of how a Jade Toad mesh is unfolded in 2D

Create a Project

Discover the new project creation window and its settings.

Displaying the new project window where there are the project settings and import settings
New project window overview

To create your project:

  1. Click Select to load a mesh file.

  2. Adjust project settings if needed.

  3. Click OK




Choose a template that updates the default settings of the project.  


Click Select to choose the 3D mesh for this project. You can update the 3D mesh by using Edit > Project configuration.

Document Resolution

Select the resolution of your project. This will set the resolution for all texture sets in your mesh and can be updated later in the Texture set settings panel.

Normal Map Format 

Painter supports both DirectX and OpenGL normal maps. Which normal map you should use depends on which application you intend to use the normal map in.

Compute Tangent Space Per Fragment 

This setting changes how normal maps are baked. Whether to enable or disable this setting depends on which application you intend to use the normal map in.  

Use UV Tile workflow 

The UV Tile workflow, also known as UDIM, allows you to texture across a larger UV range. Enable this setting if your mesh is set up to be textured in this way. Hover over the information icons to the right of these settings to learn more about UDIMs. This option cannot be changed later. 

Import Cameras 

When enabled, cameras in the mesh file are imported into the project and can be used for visualization. 


Enable auto-unwrap to have Painter automatically unwrap your mesh to create UVs. Click Options to adjust whether UVs are generated for the entire model or only where UVs are missing.  

Import mesh normal maps and baked maps for all materials 

Click Add to include texture files baked in other applications in this project and automatically assign them in the Texture set settings

What's Next?

You now know all about the interface of Substance 3D Painter. Next, you can try to create your first project.

Have a question or an idea?

If you have a question to ask, come and participate in the Substance 3D Painter community. We would love to hear from you. 

You can also share your ideas of new features with us!


Get help faster and easier

New user?