1. Post #1
    Gold Member
    rovar's Avatar
    November 2009
    3,507 Posts
    So, I'm not familiar with either of these programs really. I was recently asked to produce textures via these two pieces of software, and I was wondering if anyone could pitch in tips or have guides that would help. I'm a digital artist and I typically just use Photoshop/Illustrator for my work. How difficult would it be to transfer my skills to a program that uses 3D space? (The work is centered entirely around texture creation for 3D models and environments)

  2. Post #2
    Gold Member
    Lt_C's Avatar
    March 2007
    3,700 Posts
    Well, Substance Designer is a node based texture creator, the end output is (usually) a tiling texture that can be used in an environment, or as a base material for a substance painter project. That said, you can do procedural texture generation for meshes with it, although that's not its primary focus since painter was released.

    For examples of what SD is used to create and get some .sbs files, check out Substance Source. There are tons of tutorials for the program on youtube as well. It's got a rough learning curve if you've never worked with nodes and procedural texture creation, but the stuff experts in the program can do with it is kind of jaw dropping.


    Cryengine is a 3D game engine like Unity or Unreal, it's more of an endpoint for textures and not a way to create them. If you're an explicitly 2D artist, learning a game engine is quite a jump and CE is what I would consider the least easy of the three to get started with. Luckily, their next (or most recently released) version should have Substance support, so that's that! Otherwise, you'll be exporting spec/gloss PBR maps out of SD calibrated to the CryEngine profile to create materials that the engine can use.
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  3. Post #3
    Gold Member
    rovar's Avatar
    November 2009
    3,507 Posts
    Well, Substance Designer is a node based texture creator, the end output is (usually) a tiling texture that can be used in an environment, or as a base material for a substance painter project. That said, you can do procedural texture generation for meshes with it, although that's not its primary focus since painter was released.

    For examples of what SD is used to create and get some .sbs files, check out Substance Source. There are tons of tutorials for the program on youtube as well. It's got a rough learning curve if you've never worked with nodes and procedural texture creation, but the stuff experts in the program can do with it is kind of jaw dropping.


    Cryengine is a 3D game engine like Unity or Unreal, it's more of an endpoint for textures and not a way to create them. If you're an explicitly 2D artist, learning a game engine is quite a jump and CE is what I would consider the least easy of the three to get started with. Luckily, their next (or most recently released) version should have Substance support, so that's that! Otherwise, you'll be exporting spec/gloss PBR maps out of SD calibrated to the CryEngine profile to create materials that the engine can use.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful explanation. I'm guessing someone who's not really worked with either might have steep hill to climb huh? From what I gather and what you've said, they're pipelining their work directly with Substance Designer and having it directly ported to CE since you said it has direct support. They said if SD wasn't an option, having the materials setup inside CRYENGINE would be the next best thing. I'm guessing I should probably learn SD for this seeing how texture development is the only thing I need. I'll follow the tutorials the best I can if that's the case.

  4. Post #4
    Gold Member
    Lt_C's Avatar
    March 2007
    3,700 Posts
    Thank you so much for the wonderful explanation. I'm guessing someone who's not really worked with either might have steep hill to climb huh? From what I gather and what you've said, they're pipelining their work directly with Substance Designer and having it directly ported to CE since you said it has direct support. They said if SD wasn't an option, having the materials setup inside CRYENGINE would be the next best thing. I'm guessing I should probably learn SD for this seeing how texture development is the only thing I need. I'll follow the tutorials the best I can if that's the case.
    Well, it's not going to be painless. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning it on the fly for commission work with deadlines, but that's just going off of what I know what I can and can't do.

    That said, learning SD will definitely not hurt. Seeing as I started in the realm of pure graphic design and transitioned to texture and later modeling work and was able to turn it into a full time job, I full endorse the idea of learning new skills!

    If you've never made textures for games, here are some thoughts, especially for working with substance:

    You start with noise, clouds, and basic shape primitives to create a greyscale heightmap.
    Your heightmap becomes the base for your texture - you'll be creating a normalmap from the height, and using those maps to create curvature and cavity maps to drive your ambient occlusion, diffuse, specular, and gloss maps. (or basecolor/metalness/roughness maps). The end result will be a collection of texture maps compatible with PBR shading methods - Cryengine is still using Spec/Gloss workflow, but SD should allow you to work in metalness and convert to Spec/Gloss with a single node. If you're unfamiliar with those terms, google should help get you started - it's a deep rabbit hole, so be prepared to do some learning.
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  5. Post #5
    Gold Member
    rovar's Avatar
    November 2009
    3,507 Posts
    Well, it's not going to be painless. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning it on the fly for commission work with deadlines, but that's just going off of what I know what I can and can't do.

    That said, learning SD will definitely not hurt. Seeing as I started in the realm of pure graphic design and transitioned to texture and later modeling work and was able to turn it into a full time job, I full endorse the idea of learning new skills!

    If you've never made textures for games, here are some thoughts, especially for working with substance:

    You start with noise, clouds, and basic shape primitives to create a greyscale heightmap.
    Your heightmap becomes the base for your texture - you'll be creating a normalmap from the height, and using those maps to create curvature and cavity maps to drive your ambient occlusion, diffuse, specular, and gloss maps. (or basecolor/metalness/roughness maps). The end result will be a collection of texture maps compatible with PBR shading methods - Cryengine is still using Spec/Gloss workflow, but SD should allow you to work in metalness and convert to Spec/Gloss with a single node. If you're unfamiliar with those terms, google should help get you started - it's a deep rabbit hole, so be prepared to do some learning.
    Thanks a bunch, you have given me a lot of very very helpful information. I'm going to attempt to pursue learning SD on the side as I can see it being very beneficial in the long run. Some learning never bothered me, and a new project would be good.

  6. Post #6
    Gold Member
    WhyNott's Avatar
    November 2012
    3,726 Posts
    Is substance designer anything like the cycles procedural textures in blender?

  7. Post #7
    Gold Member
    Lt_C's Avatar
    March 2007
    3,700 Posts
    So Substance Designer differs a bit from shader editors in that the end result isn't a full fledged material but a series of textures that are compatible with real-time workflows. Besides that, if you've got a basic handle on node based material editors, you'll pick it up rather fast. Substance materials also tie in with the substance plugins, so you can expose parameters and random seeds to the engine as well, allowing you to recalculate the outputs in the editor.

  8. Post #8
    Gold Member
    werewolf0020's Avatar
    October 2009
    6,868 Posts
    So hold on. Can you generate textures from scratch using substance designer or you still need a basic input?

  9. Post #9
    Gold Member
    Lt_C's Avatar
    March 2007
    3,700 Posts
    You can build even the most complex textures using random seed noise and shapes, yes.





    I wouldn't say it's a new feature but more an evolution of the workflow and the ever increasing skills of the artists using the tool at the high end.

  10. Post #10
    Willing to off arm for a robot arm
    Killer monkey's Avatar
    September 2011
    2,246 Posts
    Oh sweet, a substance thread. Allow me to show you guys what I've been doing to learn the program.




    Combine metals look so pretty with PBR, don't they?
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