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Interface Overview

Learn where tools and other functionality can be accessed in Adobe Substance 3D Modeler's interface.

Modeler's interface changes slightly based on whether you're using it in VR or on desktop. On desktop, most interface elements are always visible, while in VR the various panels can be accessed with dedicated controller buttons. 

The diagram below shows the standard desktop configuration. Each interface element is further explained below, including how they can be accessed while in VR.

By default, the following interface elements are visible:
  1. The menu bar
  2. Viewport
  3. Palette
  4. Color Picker
  5. The Scene bar

The Action menu isn't visible by default.

A diagram of the Modeler interface

The menu bar holds standard menus such as File, Edit, View, and Help.


Sculpt with clay and assemble your creations.

The Modeler viewport without other interface elements.
This image shows the Viewport without other Interface elements. You can toggle interface visibility with F8.

The Viewport is where you can build up and work on your creations. Unlike most aspects of Modeler, the Viewport controls are based on whether you're using a desktop or VR. The controls for each platform are detailed below.


On desktop the viewport behaves like a camera looking into a 3D space. You can move the camera to view different parts of the scene.





Change the direction the camera faces.

Alt + left click and drag


Move the camera up and down, left and right.

Alt + middle click and drag


Zoom the camera in and out to focus on a smaller or larger area.

Alt + right click and drag

The camera always moves relative to the Gizmo, or relative to the mouse cursor.

You can also use the shortcut f to focus the camera on your sculpt or on the Gizmo. This is useful if you get lost in the scene.


When you use Modeler in VR, you exist inside the viewport. 

There are two ways to navigate the scene in VR:

  1. Physically move around the scene, as you would in a real physical space.
  2. Use the controller grips to move the scene around you.

To  move the scene around you:

  • Press and hold one of the grips, then move the controller to move the scene.
  • Press and hold both grips at the same time. While holding both grips, move the controllers closer to or further away from each other. This allows you to scale and rotate the scene relative to yourself.

With grip controls it's possible to navigate the scene quickly and easily, even while seated.


Access and customize Modeler's tools. In VR hold the bottom button on the Support controller to access the Palette.

An image of the Palette with the Select tool equipped.

Modeler's Palette is divided into the following sections:

Tool bar

Select from Modeler's Tools and Tool Galleries.

Tool Parameters

Select another tool from the current Tool Gallery, or update the parameters fo the current Tool.

File Management

Quickly save or load files. These options only become available once your current scene has been saved at least once.

Placement mode

Change how the brush is positioned in your scene.

Snapping controls

Toggle angle and grid snapping on or off for more precise placement. 

Color picker

Select a color for your clay. In VR point your tool hand at the Color picker symbol on your support hand's wrist.

An image of the color picker.

With the Color picker you can choose a color for your clay. The Color picker only affects the behaviour of the Clay tool and the Paint tool. If you select a different color and then use the Warp tool to modify your sculpt, the color of the clay won't be modified.

The Color picker also has an Eyedropper available. The Eyedropper allows you to select a color from clay already in your scene. Just select the Eyedropper and hover over the color you would like to copy. Click or pull the tool hand trigger to select the new color.

Action menu

The Action menu holds context sensitive actions that help you modify your scene. On desktop, right click to make the Action menu appear. In VR, swipe right with the tool hand joystick while the palette is open to see the Action menu.

An image of the action menu as it appears by default.

Actions in the Action menu are grouped in sections. Hover over actions for more information on what they do. Actions are context sensitive so they affect your current layer or selected layers.

The Actions group holds general layer management actions.

  • Add a layer.
  • Duplicate layers.
  • Flip layers.
  • Delete layers.
  • Convert layers into a stamp.

The Grouping actions help to organize your scene by grouping and ungrouping layers and groups.

  • Group layers
  • Ungroup layers
  • Merge layers into a single layer.

Linking actions allow you to create instances and convert instances to normal clay. You can learn more about Instances and linking here.

  • Make Link marks a layer as an instance. If you duplicate the layer, the new layer will be an instance of the original.
  • Unlink marks the layer as standard clay. The selected or current layer will no longer be connected to other instances.

The Resolution group lets you adjust layer resolution so you can increase detail, or improve performance.

  • Increase resolution to increase the amount of detail you can achieve. It's a good idea to only increase resolution when you reach the limits of the clays ability to hold detail.
  • Decrease resolution to improve performance. Higher resolutions require more memory, so decreasing resolution can help reduce memory requirements.
  • Sample resolution to match the resolution of a layer to another layer. This can be helpful to achieve a consistent level of detail across a scene.

Symmetry actions allow you to enable symmetry and repetition controls. These are useful for creating patterns or working across a mirror plane. 

  • Symmetry options work within a layer. Any strokes you make on one side of a layer are repeated across the plane or axis of symmetry. Strokes are only duplicated while symmetry is on, so if you turn symmetry off and make changes, turning symmetry on again will not duplicate the changes made while symmetry was off.
    • Mirror symmetry duplicates your strokes across a mirror plane. Mirror symmetry is useful for sculpting things like faces that have detail across the line of symmetry like a nose or lips.
    • Radial symmetry duplicates your strokes around a central axis. When Radial symmetry is turned on, controls appear to adjust how many times you want your stroke duplicated.
  • Repetition options work outside the layer. When repetition is turned on, instances of your layer or group are created across the plane or axis of symmetry. This means you can freely turn repetition on and off without losing any information.
    • Mirror repetition duplicates your layer across a mirror plane. Mirror repetition is useful for sculpting things like limbs that are symmetric on each side of a body, but that don't have to be connected directly to each other. 
    • Radial repetition duplicates your layer around a central axis. Radial repetition can be useful for something like flower petals. With Radial repetition turned on, controls appear to adjust the number of instances.
  • Locking controls support working with symmetry and repetition.
    •  When mirror lock is turned on for an object, movement for the object is constrained to two axes instead of the usual three. With mirror lock turned on, objects cannot be moved off the mirror plane.
    • When Radial lock is turned on for an object, movement is constrained to a single axis instead of the usual three axes. 

Visibility controls allow you to hide parts of your scene. Hiding scene objects can be useful for complex scenes or when you need to work on a specific layer that is hard to see.

  • Use Hide to hide your current layer or selection.
  • Use Show all to reveal all hidden objects.
  • Toggle Isolate scope to hide all objects except your current focus.

The Boolean tab has options that allow you to perform Boolean operations on clay in your scene. Boolean operations are based on mathematics and allow you to add or subtract layers from each other.

  • Subtract mode lets you subtract one layer from another layer. Any overlapping clay will be removed from the target layer.
  • Intersect mode removes non-overlapping clay from the target layer.
  • Add mode adds clay to the target layer.

Related Topics

Have a question or an idea?

If you have a question to ask or an idea to share, come and participate in the Substance 3D Community. We would love to hear from you and see your creations.


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