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Symmetry and repetition | Substance 3D Modeler

Symmetry and repetition

Symmetry and repetition are features that can help accelerate your workflow. Symmetry and repetition can be confusing because they do very similar things, but they have important differences:

  • Symmetry can be enabled while sculpting in a layer. With symmetry enabled, brush strokes are duplicated in one or more places in the layer. This is useful to create symmetry within a layer.
    • Mirror symmetry allows you to sculpt symmetrically across a mirror plane. This is often useful for sculpting faces or other symmetric objects.
    • Radial symmetry duplicates your strokes multiple times around a single axis. This can be useful when sculpting repeating patterns like flowers.
    • Kaleidoscope symmetry behaves as if Radial and Mirror symmetry are on simultaneously.
  • Repetition can be enabled when working with layers and other scene objects.
    • Mirror repetition duplicates a layer or group across a mirror plane. This is useful when placing symmetric layers such as the wheels of a car or a creatures arms.
    • Radial repetition duplicates a layer or group around a single axis. This is helpful when creating complex patterns.
    • Kaleidoscope repetition behaves as if Radial and Mirror repetition are on simultaneously.

The important thing to remember is that Symmetry applies inside layers, while Repetition applies outside layers.


To use Symmetry:

  1. Scope into a layer.
  2. Open the Action menu.
  3. Select Mirror, Radial, or Kaleidoscope symmetry.
  4. Start sculpting. Notice that your brush strokes are duplicated in other places in the layer.

When you turn on Mirror and Radial symmetry at the same time, mirror strokes will also be duplicated radially. For example, if you have Radial symmetry set to 5 duplicates, and Mirror symmetry is turned on, your brush strokes will be duplicated 10 times within the layer.

Just like normal sculpting, sculpting with symmetry on is considered destructive - it permanently modifies the layer. When using symmetry, it can be a good idea to create a new layer for symmetric content to avoid covering or accidentally modifying clay in an existing layer.


Repetition can only be enabled when you are not scoped into a layer. To use repetition:

  1. Ensure that you are not scoped into a layer.
  2. Use the Select tool to select a layer or group.
  3. Open the Action menu.
  4. Select Mirror repetition, Radial repetition, or both.

Repetition uses instancing to create duplicates of the original layer or group. As a result, repetition is not considered destructive - it does not permanently alter clay on a layer. You can turn repetition on or off at any time, or modify the number of instances radial repetition creates, without modifying clay.


Just like with Symmetry, when you turn on Mirror and Radial repetition at the same time, objects will be repeated across the mirror plane and about the radial axis. For example, if you have Radial repetition set to 5 duplicates, and Mirror repetition is turned on, your object will be duplicated 10 times.



Radial and Symmetry locking options are currently unavailable.

Locking is a toggle that is automatically enabled when you use symmetry and repetition. Locking limits how you can move layers to avoid breaking symmetry or repetition.

For example, if you enable Mirror symmetry for a layer, Mirror Lock is automatically enabled. If you scope out and try to move the layer, it will be limited to moving along the symmetry plane.

Notice in the video above, when we try to move the layer along the x-axis (with the red gizmo handle), nothing happens. This is because Mirror Lock was automatically turned on when we enabled Mirror symmetry. After we turn Mirror Lock off, it's possible to move along all axes freely.

Radial Lock works in a similar way. Radial lock is enabled automatically when Radial symmetry is turned on. When Radial Lock is turned on, you can only move objects along the radial axis.

Art examples

This piece by Ryan Corniel makes heavy use of repetition and symmetry to create an otherworldly paper insect.

Nikie Monteleone created this piece with a heavy focus on Radial repetition.


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