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Introduction to Substance Painter

In this tutorial, the instructor introduces Substance Painter, a program used for texturing 3D models.

They demonstrate how to set up a project in Substance Painter, import a model, and navigate the interface.

They explain the importance of UVs for texturing and provide an overview of the basic maps used in Substance Painter, such as base color, height, roughness, metallic, and normal maps. The instructor shows how these maps can be applied to a model to add color, detail, reflectivity, and surface imperfections.

The tutorial also covers navigation shortcuts and provides a brief comparison of Substance

Painter to Photoshop in terms of layer-based workflows.

- Workflow:

  • In this class, the instructor gives a rundown of how Substance Painter functions and what are the important things to keep in mind when importing a model inside the software, one of those things being a UV map. Without a UV map, you can’t work inside Substance Painter and it won’t allow you to texture the model.

- How to make a New Project in Substance

  • Inside the File tab, there is a New option that will allow you to create your project.

  • It will open up a new window that has various settings in it.

  • The Template will affect the Export of the textures on your model.

  • By selecting the appropriate template, Substance Painter sets up the project with the necessary channels and maps making it easier to create and export textures that are compatible with the target software or engine of your choosing.

  • For today’s class, we’ll be using the default Template.

- Import

  • To Import your FBX file / 3D model, you click on the Select button beneath the Template and it will open up a file explorer from your PC.

  • You just need to find the FBX file of your model and double-click it to open it.

  • You can set the resolution of your file in the Document Resolution option inside of the Project settings.

  • If by chance your 3D model doesn’t have a UV map, there is an option inside the Import Settings to open up UVs inside Substance Painter.

  • Once everything is set just click Okay on the Project Settings and it will import your 3D model inside the viewport.

- Moving in Substance Painter

  • Navigating in Substance Painter works the same way as in Autodesk Maya.

  • Holding Alt + Left Click will rotate the model.

  • Holding Alt + Right Click will zoom in and out of the model.

  • Holding Alt + Middle Mouse Button will move the camera.

  • Holding Shift + Right Click will move the lighting inside the scene.

  • Clicking F will make the camera focus on the model.

- Changing panels

  • Clicking F1 will split the viewport into two where you can see the model and its UV map on the other half of the screen.

  • Clicking F2 will switch it back to just the 3D model inside the workspace.

  • Clicking F3 will only display the UV maps.

- Default UI Workspace in Substance Painter

  • The workspace inside Substance Painter can be changed by placing the various tabs of options anywhere else you want them to be on your screen.

  • This will be an explanation of the Default UI workspace in Substance Painter.

- Tools

  • On the Left side are the various tools you can choose to work with.

  • The most noticeable ones are the brush, eraser, and color picker.

  • There are many other tools that will be demonstrated in other classes.

- Materials

  • Substance Painter has a lot of Materials you can drag and drop onto your model.

  • Materials have rare visual appearances and surface properties.

  • The material consists of base color, roughness, metallicity, normal maps, height maps, and more.

  • When working in Substance Painter, you can create or import materials that represent different substances or surface types, such as metal, wood, plastic, fabric, and so on.

- Smart Materials

  • Smart Materials are materials as well but have a bit more to them.

  • Unlike normal Materials, these come in a Group Folder inside the Layer.

  • They are more complex materials that can be edited using the generators and filters used to make the Smart Material.

- Alpha Masks

  • Substance Painter provides a wide range of built-in alphas that can be used immediately.

  • However, you can also import your own custom alphas.

  • Alphas can be added to brushes and create something like a stencil.

  • You can paint or stamp these grayscale images onto the model's surface, effectively adding intricate details and variations.

- Material Properties

  • Inside the Properties below the Layers, you can find the Material Properties.

  • These are things that make up a material and a texture. - Base Color: Determines the primary color or texture of the material. - Roughness: Controls the smoothness or roughness of the surface, affecting how light is reflected or scattered. - Metallicity: Specifies whether the material is metallic or non-metallic. Metallic surfaces reflect light differently than non-metallic surfaces. - Normal Maps: Used to simulate surface details and add depth to the material. They create the illusion of bumps, crevices, or other surface irregularities. - Height Maps: Similar to normal maps, height maps define the height or displacement of the surface, allowing for additional fine details or relief.

  • Each of these has its own slider making it easier to control how you want your material/texture to look.

- Brushes

  • With the brush tool, you can draw on the model to create interesting hand-painted 3D models.

  • There are many brushes you can choose from inside Substance Painter.

- Brush Settings

  • Above the workspace are the brush settings.

  • You can change the size, flow, opacity, and spacing of the brush.

  • Holding down Ctrl + Right Click will change the size of the brush when you move it LEFT and RIGHT.

  • Holding down Ctrl + Right Click will change the hardness of the brush when you move it UP and DOWN.

- Layers

  • There are two types of Layers you can make inside Substance Painter:

1. Fill Layer

  • This Layer fills up the entire area of the model.

2. Paint Layer

  • This layer allows you to use the paint brush, without it you won’t be able to use it.

3. Texture Set List

  • Here is where all of your shaders will be displayed.

  • Shaders are different UV maps on your model.

  • Each shader has its own set of UV shells.

  • It makes the workflow easier for texturing.

  • Instead of selecting specific parts of the model, that part can be added to a different shader and you can work on it without having to worry about it affecting the other parts of the model.

  • Shaders are assigned inside the 3D sculpting software that you made the model in.


  • The instructor sets up his new project, using the default Template and setting the solution to 2k.

  • The cube they imported already has a cut UV so there is no need to use the Auto-Unwrap.

  • They set their work panel to F1 where they can see both the model and the UV.

  • To fill the entire cube with color they make a Fill Layer and add a color of their choosing.

  • The instructor goes on to explain what the Roughness channel does to the Fill Layer they’ve added.

  • The higher we set our roughness slider the flatter the color will be.

  • The lower we set our roughness slider the shiner the color will get.

  • The Metallic map also works in a similar way.

  • The instructor gives a short demonstration on how to create a mirror effect on the cube by increasing the metallic all the way up to 1 and lowering the roughness down to 0 then changing the color to white.

  • Inside the Display Settings, the instructor shows how you can change the environment by selecting a new one.

  • The default one is always the panorama environment whenever we make a new project.

  • Every environment has its own lighting that will affect how the colors on our textures will look like.

  • After the demonstration, the instructor undoes the changes they’ve made.

  • They proceed to add a black base color and increase the roughness all the way to 1 to get a flat color and lower the metallic to 0.

  • Now that they have the entire dice filled with one color they make a new Paint Later on top to add in the dots of the dice.

  • Using a basic brush with increased hardness, to increase the hardness hold down Ctrl + Right Click while moving the mouse up and down, they start adding in the dots.

  • They lower the Roughness and height to get an interesting effect on the dots as if they are carved inside the dice itself.

Advanced knowledge is NOT REQUIRED and the event is FREE.

💻 WHERE? - online and live at the M3DS Academy of Visual Arts.

WHEN? - you choose a day, from June 15 to July 6, 2023 The final award ceremony will be held on July 7, 2023.

💡WHY? - Each participant receives a free course in the Unreal Engine Program - Each participant receives an international certificate of participation. - Each participant receives a discount for enrollment in the M3DS Academy.

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