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Overview | Substance 3D Designer

  1. Substance 3D home
  2. User guide
  3. Glossary
  4. Getting started
    1. Getting started
    2. Activation and licenses
    3. System requirements
    4. Overview
      1. Overview
      2. What is a Substance 3D file?
    5. Workflow overview
    6. Shortcuts
    7. Tutorials & learning
  5. Interface
    1. Interface
    2. Customizing your workspace
    3. Home screen
    4. Main toolbar
    5. Preferences
      1. Preferences
      2. Project settings
      3. Version control
    6. Explorer
      1. Explorer
      2. Send to... / Interoperability
    7. Graph view
      1. Graph view
      2. Link creation modes
      3. Graph items
        1. Graph items
        2. Dot node (also Portal)
        3. Frame
        4. Comment
        5. Pin
    8. Library
      1. Library
      2. Managing custom content and filters
    9. Properties
    10. 2D view
    11. 3D view
      1. 3D view
      2. Material properties
      3. GLSLFX shaders
      4. Switching your shaders to OpenGL Core Profile
      5. Iray
    12. Dependency manager
  6. Resources
    1. Resources
    2. Importing, linking and new resources
    3. Bitmap resource
      1. Bitmap resource
      2. Bitmap painting tools
    4. Vector graphics (SVG) resource
      1. Vector graphics (SVG) resource
      2. Vector editing tools
    5. 3D scene resource
    6. AxF (Appearance eXchange Format)
    7. Font resource
    8. Warnings from dependencies
  7. Substance graphs
    1. Substance graphs
    2. Substance graph key concepts
    3. Creating a Substance graph
      1. Creating a Substance graph
      2. Graph instances / Sub-graphs
    4. Exposing a parameter
      1. Exposing a parameter
      2. Parameter presets
      3. Visible if: control visibility of inputs, outputs and parameters
    5. Graph parameters
    6. Inheritance in Substance graphs
    7. Output size
    8. Values in Substance graphs
    9. Publishing Substance 3D asset files (SBSAR)
    10. Exporting bitmaps
    11. Exporting PSD files
    12. Sample Substance graphs
    13. Warnings in Substance graphs
    14. Nodes reference for Substance graphs
      1. Nodes reference for Substance graphs
      2. Atomic nodes
        1. Atomic nodes
        2. Bitmap
        3. Blend
          1. Blend
          2. Blending modes description
        4. Blur
        5. Channel shuffle
        6. Curve
        7. Directional blur
        8. Directional warp
        9. Distance
        10. Emboss
        11. FX-map
        12. Gradient (Dynamic)
        13. Gradient map
        14. Grayscale conversion
        15. HSL
        16. Levels
        17. Normal
        18. Pixel processor
        19. SVG
        20. Sharpen
        21. Text
        22. Transformation 2D
        23. Uniform color
        24. Value processor
        25. Warp
        26. Output
        27. Input
      3. Node library
        1. Node library
        2. Texture generators
          1. Texture generators
          2. Noises
            1. Noises
            2. 3D Perlin noise
            3. 3D Perlin noise fractal
            4. 3D Ridged noise fractal
            5. 3D Simplex noise
            6. 3D Voronoi
            7. 3D Voronoi fractal
            8. 3D Worley noise
            9. Anisotropic noise
            10. Blue noise fast
            11. BnW spots 1
            12. BnW spots 2
            13. BnW spots 3
            14. Cells 1
            15. Cells 2
            16. Cells 3
            17. Cells 4
            18. Clouds 1
            19. Clouds 2
            20. Clouds 3
            21. Creased
            22. Crystal 1
            23. Crystal 2
            24. Directional noise 1
            25. Directional noise 2
            26. Directional noise 3
            27. Directional noise 4
            28. Directional scratches
            29. Dirt 1
            30. Dirt 2
            31. Dirt 3
            32. Dirt 4
            33. Dirt 5
            34. Dirt gradient
            35. Fluid
            36. Fractal sum 1
            37. Fractal sum 2
            38. Fractal sum 3
            39. Fractal sum 4
            40. Fractal sum base
            41. Fur 1
            42. Fur 2
            43. Fur 3
            44. Gaussian noise
            45. Gaussian spots 1
            46. Gaussian spots 2
            47. Grunge concrete
            48. Grunge Damas
            49. Grunge galvanic large
            50. Grunge galvanic small
            51. Grunge leaks
            52. Grunge leaky paint
            53. Grunge map 001
            54. Grunge map 002
            55. Grunge map 003
            56. Grunge map 004
            57. Grunge map 005
            58. Grunge map 006
            59. Grunge map 007
            60. Grunge map 008
            61. Grunge map 009
            62. Grunge map 010
            63. Grunge map 011
            64. Grunge map 012
            65. Grunge map 013
            66. Grunge map 014
            67. Grunge map 015
            68. Grunge rough dirty
            69. Grunge rust fine
            70. Grunge scratches dirty
            71. Grunge scratches fine
            72. Grunge scratches rough
            73. Grunge shavings
            74. Grunge splashes dusty
            75. Grunge spots
            76. Grunge spots dirty
            77. Liquid
            78. Messy fibers 1
            79. Messy fibers 2
            80. Messy fibers 3
            81. Microscope view
            82. Moisture noise
            83. Perlin noise
            84. Plasma
            85. Caustics
            86. Voronoi
            87. Voronoi fractal
            88. Waveform 1
            89. White noise
            90. White noise fast
          3. Patterns
            1. Patterns
            2. 3D linear gradient
            3. 3D volume mask
            4. Alveolus
            5. Arc pavement
            6. Brick 1
            7. Brick 2
            8. Brick generator
            9. Checker 1
            10. Cube 3D
            11. Cube 3D GBuffers
            12. Fibers 1
            13. Fibers 2
            14. Gaussian 1
            15. Gaussian 2
            16. Gradient axial
            17. Gradient axial reflected
            18. Gradient circular
            19. Gradient linear 1
            20. Gradient linear 2
            21. Gradient linear 3
            22. Gradient radial
            23. Height extrude
            24. Mesh 1
            25. Mesh 2
            26. Panorama shape
            27. Polygon 1
            28. Polygon 2
            29. Scratches generator
            30. Shape
            31. Shape extrude
            32. Shape mapper
            33. Shape splatter
            34. Shape splatter blend
            35. Shape splatter data extract
            36. Shape splatter to mask
            37. Splatter
            38. Splatter circular
            39. Star
            40. Starburst
            41. Stripes
            42. Tile generator
            43. Tile random
            44. Tile random 2
            45. Tile sampler
            46. Triangle grid
            47. Weave 1
            48. Weave 2
            49. Weave generator
        3. Filters
          1. Filters
          2. Adjustments
            1. Adjustments
            2. Auto levels
            3. Channel mixer
            4. Chrominance extract
            5. Clamp
            6. Color match
            7. Color to mask
            8. Contrast/Luminosity
            9. Convert to linear
            10. Convert to sRGB
            11. Grayscale conversion advanced
            12. Hald CLUT
            13. HDR range viewer
            14. Height map frequencies mapper
            15. Highpass
            16. Histogram range
            17. Histogram scan
            18. Histogram scan non-uniform
            19. Histogram select
            20. Histogram shift
            21. Invert
            22. Lighting cancel high frequencies
            23. Lighting cancel low frequencies
            24. Luminance highpass
            25. Min max
            26. Pow
            27. Quantize
            28. Replace color
            29. Replace color range
            30. Threshold
          3. Blending
            1. Blending
            2. Color (Blend node)
            3. Color burn
            4. Color dodge
            5. Difference
            6. Dissolve
            7. Linear burn
            8. Luminosity (Blend node)
            9. Multi switch
            10. Switch
          4. Blurs
            1. Blurs
            2. Anisotropic blur
            3. Blur HQ
            4. Non uniform blur
            5. Radial blur
            6. Slope blur
          5. Channels
            1. Channels
            2. RGBA merge
            3. RGBA split
            4. Alpha merge
            5. Alpha split
            6. Pre-multiplied to straight
            7. Straight to pre-multiplied
          6. Effects
            1. Effects
            2. 3D texture position
            3. 3D texture SDF
            4. 3D texture surface render
            5. 3D texture volume render
            6. Ambient occlusion (HBAO)
            7. Ambient occlusion (RTAO)
            8. Bevel
            9. Cross section
            10. Curvature
            11. Curvature smooth
            12. Curvature sobel
            13. Diffusion color
            14. Diffusion grayscale
            15. Diffusion UV
            16. Edge detect
            17. Emboss with gloss
            18. Extend shape
            19. Flood fill
            20. Flood fill mapper
            21. Flood fill to Bbox size
            22. Flood Fill to gradient
            23. Flood Fill to grayscale/color
            24. Flood Fill to index
            25. Flood Fill to position
            26. Flood Fill to random color
            27. Flood Fill to random grayscale
            28. FXAA
            29. Glow
            30. Mosaic
            31. Multi directional warp
            32. Non uniform directional warp
            33. Reaction diffusion fast
            34. RT irradiance
            35. RT shadow
            36. Shadows
            37. Shape drop shadow
            38. Shape glow
            39. Shape stroke
            40. Summed area table
            41. Swirl
            42. Uber emboss
            43. Vector morph
            44. Vector warp
          7. Normal map
            1. Normal Map
            2. Bent Normal
            3. Facing Normal
            4. Height Normal Blender
            5. Height to Normal World Units
            6. Normal Blend
            7. Normal Combine
            8. Normal Invert
            9. Normal Normalize
            10. Normal Sobel
            11. Normal to Height
            12. Normal To Height HQ
            13. Normal Transform
            14. Normal Vector Rotation
          8. Tiling
            1. Tiling
            2. Make It Tile Patch
            3. Make It Tile Photo
          9. Transforms
            1. Transforms
            2. 3D Texture Offset
            3. Auto Crop
            4. Cartesian To Polar
            5. Clone (Filter Node)
            6. Mirror (Filter Node)
            7. Noise Upscale 1
            8. Noise Upscale 2
            9. Noise Upscale 3
            10. Non-Square Transform
            11. Non-Uniform Rotation
            12. Polar to Cartesian
            13. Quad Transform
            14. Safe Transform
            15. Skew
            16. Symmetry
            17. Symmetry Slice
            18. Trapezoid Transform
        4. Material filters
          1. Material filters
          2. 1-click
            1. 1-Click
            2. Bitmap to Material Light
          3. Effects (Material)
            1. Effects (Material)
            2. Height Blend
            3. Material Height Blend
            4. Season Filter
            5. Snow Cover
            6. Water Level
          4. Transforms (Material)
            1. Transforms (Material)
            2. Material Transform
          5. Blending (Material)
            1. Blending (Material)
            2. Material Adjustment Blend
            3. Material Blend
            4. Material Color Blend
            5. Material Switch
            6. Multi-Material Blend
          6. PBR utilities
            1. PBR Utilities
            2. BaseColor / Metallic / Roughness converter
            3. Base Material
            4. PBR Albedo Safe Color
            5. PBR BaseColor / Metallic Validate
            6. PBR Dielectric F0
            7. PBR Metal Reflectance
            8. PBR Render
            9. PBR Render Mapping
          7. Scan processing
            1. Scan Processing
            2. AO Cancellation
            3. Atlas Scatter
            4. Atlas Splitter
            5. Clone Patch
            6. Color Equalizer
            7. Crop
            8. Material Clone Patch
            9. Material Crop
            10. Multi-Angle to Albedo
            11. Multi-Angle to Normal
            12. Multi Clone Patch
            13. Multi Color Equalizer
            14. Multi Crop
            15. Smart Auto Tile
        5. Mesh-based generators
          1. Mesh-based generators
          2. Mask generators
            1. Mask Generators
            2. Bottom To Top
            3. Cloth Wear
            4. Dirt
            5. Dripping Rust
            6. Dust
            7. Edge Blur
            8. Edge Damages
            9. Edge Dirt
            10. Edge Notch
            11. Edge Select
            12. Edge Speckle
            13. Edge Wear
            14. Fiber Glass Edge Wear
            15. Grease
            16. Ground Dirt
            17. Leaks
            18. Leather Wear
            19. Light
            20. Mask Builder
            21. Metal Edge Wear
            22. Paint Wear
            23. Selective Dirt
            24. Sun Bleach
            25. Surface Brush
          3. Weathering
            1. Weathering
            2. Cracks Weathering
            3. Fabric Weathering
            4. Leather Weathering
            5. Metal Weathering
            6. Moss Weathering
            7. Rock Weathering
            8. Rust Weathering
          4. Utilities (Mesh-based generators)
            1. Utilities (Mesh Based Generators)
            2. 3D Planar Projection
            3. Material Mesh Data Blender
            4. Material Selector
            5. Mesh Data Combiner
            6. Tri Planar
        6. Spline & Path tools
          1. Spline & Path tools
          2. Working with Path & Spline tools
          3. Path tools
            1. Path Tools
            2. Paths Format Specifications
            3. Paths 2D Transform
            4. Mask to Paths
            5. Paths to Spline
            6. Paths Polygon
            7. Preview Paths
            8. Paths Warp
            9. Quad Transform on Path
            10. Paths Select
            11. Paths Vertex Processor
            12. Paths Vertex Processor Simple
          4. Spline tools
            1. Spline Tools
            2. Paths to Spline
            3. Point List
            4. Scatter on Spline Color
            5. Scatter on Spline Grayscale
            6. Spline 2D Transform
            7. Spline (Cubic)
            8. Spline (Poly Quadratic)
            9. Spline Append
            10. Spline Bridge (2 Splines)
            11. Spline Bridge (List)
            12. Spline Bridge Mapper Color
            13. Spline Bridge Mapper Grayscale
            14. Spline Circle
            15. Spline Fill
            16. Spline Flow Mapper
            17. Spline Mapper Color
            18. Spline Mapper Grayscale
            19. Spline Merge List
            20. Spline Render
            21. Spline Sample Height
            22. Spline Sample Thickness
            23. Spline Select
            24. Spline Warp
            25. UV Mapper Color
            26. UV Mapper Grayscale
        7. 3D view (Library)
          1. 3D view (Library)
          2. HDRI tools
            1. HDRI Tools
            2. Blackbody
            3. Color Temperature Adjustment
            4. Exposure
            5. Exposure Preview
            6. HDR Merge
            7. Nadir Extract
            8. Nadir Patch
            9. Panorama 3D Position
            10. Panorama Rotation
            11. Gradient 2 Points
            12. Gradient Linear (HDRI)
            13. Line Light
            14. Physical Sun/Sky
            15. Plane Light
            16. Shape Light
            17. Sphere Light
            18. Straighten Horizon
  8. Substance function graphs
    1. Substance function graphs
    2. What is a Substance function graph?
    3. Create and edit a Substance function graph
    4. The Substance function graph
    5. Variables
      1. Variables
      2. Built-in variables
      3. Get a variable value
      4. Create a variable
    6. FX-maps
      1. FX-Maps
      2. How it works
      3. The Iterate node
      4. The Quadrant node
      5. Using Substance function graphs in FX-Maps
        1. Using Substance function graphs
          in FX-Maps
        2. Iterate and $number variable
        3. Using the Sampler nodes
        4. Using the Set/Sequence nodes
    7. Warnings in Substance function graphs
    8. Sample Substance function graphs
    9. Nodes reference for Substance function graphs
      1. Nodes reference for Substance function graphs
      2. Function nodes overview
      3. Constant nodes
      4. Vector and Swizzle nodes
      5. Get nodes
      6. Sampler nodes
      7. Cast nodes
      8. Operator nodes
      9. Logical nodes
      10. Comparison nodes
      11. Function nodes
      12. Control nodes
  9. MDL graphs
    1. MDL graphs
    2. Main MDL graph concepts
    3. Creating an MDL graph
    4. MDL library
    5. Exposing parameters in MDL graphs
    6. Substance graphs and MDL materials
    7. Exporting MDL content
    8. Warnings in MDL graphs
    9. MDL learning resources
  10. Bakers
    1. Bakers
    2. Bakers legacy interface
  11. Best practices
    1. Best practices
    2. Filesize reduction guidelines
    3. Graph creation etiquette
    4. Performance optimization guidelines
  12. Pipeline and project configuration
    1. Pipeline and project configuration
    2. Project configuration files - SBSPRJ
    3. Configuration list - SBSCFG
    4. User preferences - Automating setup
    5. Retrieving the installation path
    6. Environment variables
  13. Color management
    1. Color management
    2. Spot colors (Pantone)
  14. Package metadata
  15. Scripting
    1. Scripting
    2. Plugin basics
    3. Plugin search paths
    4. Plugins packages
    5. Plugin manager
    6. Python editor
    7. Accessing graphs and selections
    8. Nodes and properties
    9. Undo and redo
    10. Application callbacks
    11. Creating user interface elements
    12. Adding actions to the Explorer toolbar
    13. Using color management
    14. Using spot colors
    15. Logging
    16. Using threads
    17. Debugging plugins using Visual Studio Code
    18. Porting previous plugins
    19. Packaging plugins
    20. Scripting API reference
  16. Technical issues
    1. Technical issues
    2. Warnings and errors
    3. Cannot create/load a project
    4. Application does not start
    5. Crash when rendering graphs
    6. Parameters not working as expected
    7. Incorrect image output
    8. 3D View issues
    9. User interface issues
    10. Python issues
    11. Substance model graph feature is missing
  17. Release notes
    1. Release notes
    2. All changes
    3. Version 13.1
    4. Version 13.0
    5. Version 12.4
    6. Version 12.3
    7. Version 12.2
    8. Version 12.1
    9. Version 11.3
    10. Version 11.2
    11. Version 2021.1 (11.1)
    12. Old versions
      1. Old versions
      2. Version 2020.2 (10.2)
      3. Version 2020.1 (10.1)
      4. Version 2019.3 (9.3)
      5. Version 2019.2 (9.2)
      6. Version 2019.1 (9.1)

In this page


Overview

Substance 3D Designer is an application intended for creating 2D textures, materials and filters in a node-based interface, with a heavy focus on procedural generation, parametrisation and non-destructive workflows. It is the longest-running application in the Substance 3D ecosystem and resources made with it are the most versatile and dynamic possible.

Here is how it compares to other applications:

Substance 3D Sampler icon

Substance 3D
Sampler

Substance 3D Painter icon

Substance 3D
Painter

Substance 3D Designer icon

Substance 3D
Designer

Learning curve

Low

Medium

High

Author materials

Yes

Yes

Yes

Author 3D models

No

Limited*

Limited*

Author filters, patterns and effects

No

Limited

Yes

Export parametric content

No

No

Yes

*: Displacement only, see Scene export feature in the 3D View section.

In short, Substance 3D Designer should be seen as the most technical, advanced texturing application available.

It allows you to author content for almost any usecase or scenario. It means you are not limited to a single type of output – such as a unique material/set of textures for a UV-mapped mesh – but can create content for a much more extended set of uses.

For example, most of the procedural, smart content in Painter and Sampler was authored and exported from Designer. Things like Brush Alphas, Generators, Filters and Base Materials can all be authored in Designer.


Workflow

Substance 3D Designer is a Node-based editor that allows you to build content in many different ways with varying complexities. The workflow is further explained on dedicated pages, but the following are benefits of working with the software:

Non-linear : you can can author a multitude of texture outputs at once. Edit one mask or slider, and automatically any connected output is re-calculated. No more need to separately author maps such as Basecolor, Roughness, Normal, etc..

Non-destructive : you can reverse any action without losing any of your work. It becomes much quicker to iterate and experiment, finding even more efficient workflows.

Integrated Baking : access advanced, blazing-fast mesh baking tools right inside the software. You no longer have to perform baking in a separate software and perform lengthy import and export processes.

Parametric : you can set-up to control nearly any aspect of a texture through a single slider or dropdown. This allows you to add endless control and variation to just a single asset.


Filetypes

The application and its ecosystem use 4 different filetypes. To be clear: these are filetypes that are exported from Substance 3D Designer and can be imported into some, or all other Substance 3D applications.

Substance 3D File

(*.SBS)

Substance Files are the main source files for Designer. When you open a Substance File, you can view and edit all nodes in a Graph. They are represented as packages, that can contain any number of resources such as Graphs, Functions, Bitmaps, Meshes, etc... They are harder to share and less fast to calculate. They can only be opened in Substance 3D Designer and the Substance Player.

(*.SBSAR)

Substance Archives are compiled, optimized Substance files. They are much faster to calculate and can easily be shared without reference issues. Parameters can still be tweaked, but editing the graph is locked down. Substance Archives can be used in all Substance 3D applications and any application that has a Substance 3D integration (some with an external plugin) such as Autodesk 3DS Max & Maya, Unreal Engine or Unity Engine.

(*.TGA, *.BMP, *.PNG, *.FBX, *.OBJ etc...)

Substance 3D Designer always supports exporting to static file types. A 2D image can be exported to a bitmap file, a 3D model can be exported to common 3D filetypes. When exported to static files, all dynamic functionality is lost. Images are locked in resolution, 3D models are locked in polycount.

This generally means you will keep your work in the SBS format when working inside Designer, you'll export to SBSAR if the target supports it (Painter for example), or you will use static bitmap files if there is no need or no support for SBSAR.


Resource types

Substance 3D files can contain a large variety of resources that serve different purposes. Some resources can only be authored inside Designer, some will come from external applications.

Substance graphs

Substance graphs allow you to generate and process 2D image data and then output it to one or more texture outputs. In many use cases, a project will revolve around one or more Substance graphs.

Go to the section dedicated to Substance graphs.

Substance function graphs

Functions are a higher level of abstraction and complexity: rather than processing image data (sets of pixel values), you process single values (integers, floats, vectors). Functions are used when you want to perform more complicated operations or if you want to fine tune specific behaviors. Functions generally do not work standalone, and they are not used outside the context of Substance graphs.

Go to the section dedicated to Substance function graphs.

MDL graphs

MDL graphs are a special type of graph resource that can be authored. MDL stands for Material Definition Language. These graphs are not meant for generating and processing texture files and image data, but rather to generate the look of a material in a format that is portable and exchangeable between applications and renderers.

Go to the section dedicated to MDL graphs.

Non-graph resources

Non-graph resources can come from external applications (such as Photoshop or Autodesk Maya), while some can also be created inside Designer. The major difference is that they are not node-based graphs; most of them are elements to be used inside or alongside the previously mentioned graph types.

The following resource types exist:

 Adobe

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