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VR quick start guide | Substance 3D Modeler

VR quick start guide

Learn the basics of using Modeler in VR so that you can jump right in.
We recommend reading this guide if you have already used other creative VR applications or prefer to learn by exploring rather than reading documentation. Below, we'll introduce the foundational concepts of Modeler. Most of the topics below are covered in more detail elsewhere in the documentation, if you have questions about any topic follow the links to learn more.

Video tutorials are available to help you get started with Modeler in VR.


By default, the Oculus app prevents applications from being opened if they haven't been reviewed by Meta. In order to run Modeler, you may need to allow the Oculus app to run content from external sources. You can do this in the menu of the Oculus desktop application. For full instructions on enabling external content, refer to the Meta documentation here.

Note: When using Air Link this setting has to be enabled in the desktop app, instead of the Quest's settings.


Quest headsets must be connected to a computer with Air Link or a compatible cable in order to work. Modeler does not work standalone on Quest headsets.

Improve VR comfort

Your headset shouldn't get in the way of sculpting and creating with Modeler. It's worth checking the following settings for your headset to ensure the best experience:

  • Refresh rate: Higher refresh rates decrease motion sickness and improve long term comfort.
  • Straps: Overtight straps can cause headaches and discomfort, while loose straps can result in unclear visuals and the need to constantly adjust the headset. At the start of a sculpting session, spend a few minutes to ensure your headset sits snugly.
    • Most major headsets have third party alternatives that can be used instead of the straps. If you find that, no matter what you try, the headset does not feel comfortable, third party straps may help improve your VR experience.
  • Faceplate: The soft surface between your face and the headset is referred to as the faceplate. On some headsets the faceplate uses a material that can become uncomfortable over time. Third party faceplates and covers are available for all major VR headsets, and can drastically improve your VR experience.
  • Controller straps: Even though Modeler isn't a highly active experience, we recommend using the controller straps. Not only does this reduce the chance of injury or damaging objects in your workspace, but during long sculpting sessions it's useful to be able to release the controllers without searching for a place to put them down.
  • Maximize your available area: Sculpting in a larger space is safer and decreases the risks of hitting furniture or valuables with a controller. If you can, try to move furniture and fragile objects away from the VR space so you can focus on sculpting instead of avoiding a disaster.


The controller in your dominant hand is referred to as the tool hand, while the controller in your non-dominant hand is referred to as the support hand. The diagram below shows the names we use for each control surface. Support hand controls start with an S, and tool hand controls start with a T.

How do I swap the controllers?

The controllers default to a right-handed layout, however you can change this in the preferences:

  1. Use File > Preferences, or shortcut Ctrl + K to open the preferences.
  2. Select your handedness in the General

Move in 3D

By using Modeler in VR, you exist inside your scene.

There are two ways to navigate the scene:

  1. Physically move your body through the scene.
  2. Use the controller grips to move the scene around you.

Unfortunately learning how to move your body is beyond the scope of this guide, but we'll cover how to use the grips below.

  • Press and hold one of the grips, then move the controller to move the scene.
  • Press and hold both grips at the same time, then move the controllers towards or away from each other to zoom in or out.

By combining the grip movements, you can navigate the scene very quickly, even while seated.

The Palette

The Palette is where you can access most of Modeler's tools, actions, and other functionality. To open the Palette, use S2.

To interact with the Palette, point your tool hand at the Palette to highlight controls, and pull TT to use buttons and sliders.

Learn more about the Palette here, or explore Modeler's interface here.


Modeler's tools can be accessed through the Tool panel in the Palette. Most of Modelers tools can be accessed directly from the Tool panel, however some can only be accessed by selecting another tool first.

For example, if you select the Warp tool, you can then select the Elastic tool just above the tool parameters.

Tool parameters allow you to modify the brush and how the tool works.

Learn more about specific tools here, or learn more about the brush here.


Instead of displaying the scene hierarchy in a list, Modeler uses focus and scoping.

Your current focus determines what you can modify in the scene. For example, if you are focused on a layer, your tools and actions can only modify that layer. If you scope out so that all the layers and groups in your scene are in focus, then your tools and actions can modify any object in your scene.

You can control your focus with SJ ↑↓. To focus on a layer, point your tool hand at the layer and use SJ ↑. To scope out of your current layer or group, use SJ ↓.

Learn more about focus and scope here.


Actions refer to the set of functions that allow you to manage layers in your scene. A few examples of common actions are:

  • Creating a new layer.
  • Grouping layers.
  • Increasing layer resolution.
  • Hiding layers.

Actions are available in the right click Actions Menu on Desktop, but they are accessed slightly differently in VR. To view currently available actions:

  1. Open the palette with S1.
  2. Expand the Actions menu with TJ →.

Learn more about actions here.

Steam VR and Oculus

Modeler uses the OpenXR runtime, which means that Modeler will launch either SteamVR or the Oculus app if they are installed on your computer. If the incorrect runtime is selected, you may encounter issues with using Modeler in VR. You can find out how to change the default runtime here.

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