Learn about the commonly used terms within Substance 3D Stager.

Within the Substance 3D Stager application and help pages you might encounter some unfamiliar terms. The list below explains commonly used terms.

Term Description
Align and Distribute
Use the Align and Distribute action to arrange a group of selected objects relative to each other.
Anti-aliasing is a method of decreasing aliasing in images. Aliasing is a term used to describe visual artifacts that can occur during rasterization, most often in the form of jagged edges on straight lines and curves.
ASM/Adobe Standard Materials
ASM is a material specification that has a common set of parameters. Parameters included with ASM allow for a wide range of materials to be created and parameterized. The common set of parameters also means that ASMs can easily be used across multiple applications for consistent results.
Assets are the objects that make up a 3D scene. Meshes, materials, lights, and images are all assets.
A bake (or baking) refers to the action of computing information from a 3D mesh and saving it into a Texture based on the UV information of a mesh. 
Stager allows you to place multiple cameras which can be used to render a scene from a number of angles. Look through cameras using the viewport to precisely frame your content. 
Depth of field 
Depth of field describes how far from the focal point an image will be in focus. A shallow depth of field means that an image has a small range around the focal point that is in focus while deep depth of field means the opposite. In practice a shallow depth of field often means only the subject is in focus, while a deep depth of field means the entire image is in focus. 
Displacement is an effect where the surface of a model is offset from its original position based on a 2D texture called a height map. 
Environment light 
Environment lights are images that you can use to quickly light your scene in a physically accurate way. Use an environment light to get realistic reflections and 360 degree lighting. 
You can use the export function to start using your Stager creations in other applications. 
Field of view (FOV) 
The FOV is the extent of the world that a camera can see. Field of view is also known as focal length and can be represent by either a mm value or an angle in degrees.
A GPU or "Graphical Processing Unit" is a chip that is designed to be very efficient at performing operations commonly used in 2D and 3D graphics. GPUs are commonly found on graphics cards. 
Graphics card 
A Graphics Card is an expansion card that is added to a computer in order to enhance the computer's ability to display images or perform GPU operations. 
Height map 
Height is one of the channels used to create a material. A height map is a texture that stores the vertical offset of each pixel relative to the surface. Height maps can be used with displacement to add additional detail to models. 
A histogram is a graphical representation of color distribution in an image. It is used to visualize how colors are balanced inside an image between shadows, midtones, and highlights. 
Image Based Lighting 
mage based lighting (IBL) is a method of using an image to create lighting and reflections in a 3D scene. IBL is best used with high dynamic range images for realistic results. IBL is useful since you can use it to create realistic lighting setups much faster than by individually placing lights and creating an environment for reflections. In Stager, environment lights use IBL techniques.
A log is a text file that records important information from the software as it runs. This information includes data about errors and tasks that the application is working on. 
Low / High poly mesh 
Low and high poly meshes are both 3D meshes. Low poly meshes have a lower polygon density, or poly count, while high poly meshes have much higher poly counts (often more than 100 times higher). This is usually done to bake detail from the high poly mesh onto the low poly mesh. This is known as the high to low poly workflow and results in a performant, detailed mesh. 
A material is a collection of information that helps define the properties of whatever surface the material is applied to. Often this information is related to how light interacts with a surface, but it can also be used to achieve other effects, such as displacement or masking. 
Image material layer 
In Stager you can add images to models with image material layers. These apply over the base material and you can have multiple image layers per material. Each image layer has its own material properties. 
A mesh is a 3D object. Meshes are defined by vertices, edges, and polygons. Meshes can be created in 3D modeling applications. 
A mip-map is a pre-computed texture, usually a sequence of images with each subsequent image at half the resolution of the previous image. Mip-maps help improve performance by using lower resolution textures when a model is further away. 

Mode refers to a set of functionality that can be used to focus or adjust your workflow. For example, Stager has two modes for its interface layout, Design mode and Render mode. Design mode focuses on designing your scene, while render mode is focused on creating renders.


Some tools have modes that allow you to change the behavior of the tool. For example the Environment Lighting tool has interaction modes so you can adjust multiple aspects of environment lights without switching tools.

A noise is a procedural, random image. Noise can be useful for creating organic shapes or breaking up flat textures. 
A normal is a vector that points perpendicularly away from a 3D element. Normals show the direction that an element is facing. For example the normal of a flat floor plane will point straight up, while the normal of a flat ceiling plane will point straight down. Vertices, edges, and planes all have normals.
Normal Map 
Normal maps make up one of the channels used to create a material. A normal map is a special texture that adds detail by changing how light bounces off the surface of a mesh. Each pixel of a normal map holds a vector that tells the renderer which direction that pixel is facing. The renderer can use this information to adjust how much light hits that pixel. 
OpenGL / DirectX 
OpenGL and DirectX are Application Programming Interfaces (API) that allow programs to directly access the functionality of GPUs. 
The origin is the center of a 3D space and is represented by the coordinates 0X, 0Y, 0Z. 
An Orthographic projection is a method of representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions. With orthographic projection all projection lines are orthogonal to the projection plane. In orthographic view, the size of a 3D object will appear the same no matter how far it is from the camera. 
A parameter is an adjustable value that you can use to modify an asset. Parameters can be used to control any number of things. For example, many materials contain parameters that you can use to adjust things like roughness or transparency. Parametric meshes hold parameters that allow you to adjust their size and proportions as well as many other options. 
Parametric Model 
A parametric model is a 3D mesh that can be modified within Stager by using parameters to control aspects of the mesh. The parameters for each parametric model depend on the mesh, so one parametric model might have a bevel parameter while another does not. 
Physically based rendering (PBR) or physically based shading (PBS) is a model in computer graphics that seeks to render graphics in a way that accurately models the properties of light in the real world. 
Perspective projection or perspective view is a method of rendering 3D information so that objects far from the camera are smaller than nearby objects. This helps create a sense of depth in a scene. A common alternative to perspective is orthographic view. 
Physical lights 
Physical lights are objects in Stager that you can move around a scene to light specific areas. Physical lights allow for more control over how a scene looks. 
Pixels are the building blocks of images. Each pixel contains color information so that a group of pixels forms a picture. A pixel is the smallest unit of an image that can be displayed. 
A post-process is a visual effect applied to a 3D image after the image has been rendered. Examples of post-processing effects are color correction, bloom, and blur. 
Procedural is a term to describe a set of instructions, or procedure, that a program can follow to create a consistent result. Procedural tools often have input parameters that allow you to control their output. 
Raster image 
A raster image is an image formed by pixels laid out on a 2D grid. Rasterization is the process of converting other forms of data into a raster image. For example, renderers create renders, or raster images, by rasterizing 3D geometry data. 
A render is an image created using a renderer. 
A renderer is a program built to process 3D information, such as lights, meshes, and materials, to create 2D images. 

In Stager, resolution refers to the pixel density of an image. Pixel density is an important factor to consider when printing images or using an image across different displays, like mobile and desktop.


Note: in some 3D applications resolution refers to the width and height, or dimensions, of an image. 

Shaders define the behavior of a material when it receives lighting information. Some shaders can be simple (like toon shading) or more advanced (like skin shading that simulates light absorption in a surface). 
Standard Model 
A standard model is a 3D Mesh. Unlike a parametric model, standard models do not have parameters that you can use to change the mesh with in Stager. Stager includes many standard models by default, and models that you import from most sources will also be considered standard models once in Stager. 
Substance material 
Substance materials are procedural materials made using the Substance Suite of tools. Most Substance materials have unique parameters that you can modify to customize the final result. 

Tessellation is a technique that is able to add geometry to a mesh to help the mesh appear smooth. Tessellation works by adding vertices and edges to a mesh with various subdivision algorithms. Tessellation is often used to improve the visual results of displacement since displacement works best with higher geometry resolution.


Stager tessellates CAD models on import.

A texel is a single unit of a texture space. Texels are helpful to translate surfaces between 3D and 2D and the size of a texel depends on the project. For example if you are measuring your 3D assets with centimeters, you might define a texel as being 1cm x 1cm in size. You can then decide how many pixels you want to store per texel. The number of pixels per texel is known as texel density. 
Texel density 
Texel density is the number of pixels per texel in a texture. For example if each texel is 10 pixels tall and 10 pixels wide, then it has a texel density of 10. It is often best to aim for consistent texel density across all models in a scene to avoid differing levels of texture detail. In other words, consistent texel density means that if two surfaces in 3D space have the same area, then they will also have the same number of pixels. 
A texture is a 2D image made for use in 3D. Textures can be grayscale, meaning only one channel is being used, or colored, meaning multiple channels are being used. Materials are generally made from a collection of textures with each texture having a specific role, such as color, roughness, and metalness textures. Textures are almost always square and have dimensions that are a power of 2 like 1024x1024 or 2048x2048. This is because GPUs are optimized to work on these resolutions. 
Tiling is the repetition of a texture so that seams are not visible at the borders of the UV space. Tiling textures are often used for surfaces that don't have a definite size, such as floors and walls. 
A tool is something that lets you interact with and create your scene. 
The toolbar holds commonly used tools. 
UVs are a representation of a 3D model in 2D space. They are used to map 2D images from 2D space onto the surface of the model in 3D space. The process of creating UVs is often described as cutting seams into the model to unfold and flatten it. 
The viewport shows your scene and is the main way of interacting with and changing your scene. The viewport is a camera that looks into 3D space, and you can use the viewport to look through any cameras in your scene. 
VRAM is the memory of the GPU, used to store information and textures when doing computations. 

What's Next?

You now know all about the specific vocabulary used in Substance 3D Stager. Now get to know the user interface and workspace of the app.

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