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Master ID Maps and Material Effects: Unleash Your Texturing Skills in Substance Painter!

🟢Learn how to work with ID maps in Substance Painter, Maya, and ZBrush to assign different materials to 3D models.

🟢Explore techniques like subsurface scattering and opacity for realistic material effects.

- Workflow

  • For today's class, we’ll be looking at how to make ID Maps inside Autodesk Maya and ZBrush.

  • The first software we will be using is Autodesk Maya.

  • Place the backpack inside the project and make a duplicate of it.

  • This is going to be important for making the ID Maps.

  • Hide the original while working on the copy.

  • Select a couple of parts and assign them a new Lambert material and change the color.

  • Do this for every part of the backpack.

  • After you are done un-hide the original backpack and have both of them visible in the viewport.

  • Change the Workspace to Rendering and click on the Lighting/Shading menu.

  • From there select the Transfer Maps option.

  • A new window will open up with a lot of options.

  • The Target Mesh is where the original non-colored mesh should go while the Source Mesh is the place for the colored copy.

  • In Target Meshes, select the original mesh without the colors and click on the Add Selected button.

  • In Source Meshes, select the colored copy, and click on Add Selected and Defuse button.

  • Click on the folder icon in the Defuse color map and pick a location on your computer where you want the ID Map to be exported.

  • Once you choose a spot select a JPEG as the File Format and click on the Bake and Close button.

  • Your ID Map should be exported to the selected spot on your computer.

Zbrush Method

  • Now we’ll see what the process looks like in Zbrush.

  • Import the same backpack in the workspace and merge the backpack and rename it.

  • Turn on the Line Fill by using the Shift + F keyboard shortcut so we can see the polygroups.

  • Just like inside Autodesk Maya, we’re going to add the same polygroup to a couple of parts.

  • Since everything is merged we’ll select the parts we want to group up by selecting them with the polygroup selection method.

  • Hold down Ctrl + Shift and click on one of the buttons, it will only isolate that one but by still holding down Ctrl + Shift and dragging on the side it will bring back the rest of the backpack with only the isolated button now hidden.

  • Still holding down Ctrl + Shift, click on the rest of the buttons and other objects you want to add to their own shared polygroup.

  • After you’ve selected everything, Ctrl + Shift and drag on the side to reveal all the hidden parts.

  • From here just click Ctrl + W to give them a different playgroup and Ctrl + Shift and click on the side to reveal the rest of the backpack.

  • Repeat this process for all the parts you want to share a polygroup.

  • After we’ve grouped up everything go to the Polypain options on the side and click the Polypaint From Polygroups.

  • Now the polygroups will look more vibrant and saturated.

  • Add more divisions to the backpack so that we can use it as a high poly for the bake inside of Substance Painter.

Substance Painter

  • Inside Substance Painter, we’ll import the Low Poly and bake the high poly from ZBrush onto it.

  • Before we click on bake we need to go inside the ID Maps options and switch the Color Source from Material to Vrtex Color.

  • After we bake it we can see that there is an ID texture map in our Texture Set Settings.

  • To add the ID Maps from Autodesk Maya inside of the project you just need to drag and drop it into the scene, change it to a texture type Import to your current session then press Import.

  • Since we already have ID Maps from our high poly from ZBrush we don’t need to do this.

  • To see what is the use of ID Maps we’re going to make a fill layer with a red color and add a Mask With Color Selection.

  • We’ll have some interesting options in our project now that will let us color pick a color from the ID Map and it will only fill out the parts affected by that color.

Subsurface Scattering

  • Subsurface scattering creates a soft, glowing effect and makes the material look more realistic.

  • This is a natural phenomenon that happens when light passes through certain materials like skin or wax.

  • We can create this effect inside Substance Painter.

  • We’ll sue this orc model for this example.

  • Since it’s a high poly we can bake it with itself to get all the necessary maps.

  • On the skin shader, we’ll add a fill layer and choose a light skin pink color.

  • In the Display Settings, we’ll change the Environment Map to Studio 03.

  • In the same settings tick the Activate Subsurface Scattering.

  • Inside the Shader Settings make sure that the Subsurface Scattering Parameters are Enabled and the Scattering Type set to Red Shift + Rayleigh.

  • To add the Subsurface Scattering channel to our project, go into the Texture Set Settings click on the plus button on the Channels and select the Scattering.

  • On top of our skin layer make a new fill layer with only the scattering channel on and increase the intensity all the way to 1.

  • Add a black mask to the scattering layer and by using a normal brush start drawing out where the scattering will be on the character.

  • These parts are the tip of the nose, in-between the fingers, on the tip of the ears, etc.

  • For now, we’ll just add it to the ears.

  • To see how much of the scattering we are adding we can change the View from Material to Mask.

  • After we are done switch to the Material View and click on the render option to see how the scattering will look rendered.


  • To activate the opacity we first need to go inside the Shader Settings and select the pbr metal rough with alpha blending.

  • Now inside our Texture Set Settings when we click on the plus in the Channels we can add the Opacity channel.

  • Go to the shader where the mouth stitches are and make a new fill layer with any color, in this case, it is blue.

  • On top of the blue layer make a new fill layer with just the opacity channel on and decrease the value to make the mesh see-through.

Exporting Opacity Texture Map

  • Click on File and Export Textures, from the Export Textures window go to the Output Templates.

  • From here copy the Unreal Engine 4 (Packed) and work on that copy.

  • In this copy in Output Maps click on the Create Gray.

  • Inside the Input Maps column find the Opacity and drag and drop it inside the gray square.

  • It will ask you what kind of channel you want it to be, select the Gray Channel and not the A Channel.

  • Now when you export the texture make sure you have the Output Template set to the Copy we made of an already existing one.

  • Then just export your textures.

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