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Realistic Leather Texturing in Substance Painter



🟢In this tutorial, we'll explore how to texture leather in Substance 3D Painter.


🟢We'll cover importing a leather belt model, baking essential maps, applying base colors, adding detail, and final touches like color correction.


🟢Follow along for a step-by-step guide to creating realistic leather textures.





- Workflow

  • Before we can begin texturing the belt, we need to Bake the mesh first.

  • In the Texture Set Settings tab find the Bake Base Mesh button and click it.

  • Once the Bake window opens, set the resolution to 4k, add in the high-poly version of the model, change the Antialiasing to Subsampling 2x2, and change the Match to By Mesh Name.

  • One last thing to change inside the Baking window is the ID Map.

  • Click on the ID map options on the left side of the window and change the Color Source to Vertex Color.

  • Now that everything is set up, click the Bake selected textures button.

  • After the mesh has been baked, all of the details of the high-poly mesh should transfer onto the low-poly one we’ll be texturing on.

  • Another good way to check if the mesh has been baked is by going into the Texture Set Setting tab and seeing if there are any normal, ambient occlusion, or curvature maps included.

  • Add a fill layer and turn off all the other channels except for color.

  • If you have any references for how you want to texture the belt, color-pick the base color from the reference itself.

  • Make a new fill layer with only the color channel on, choose a light yellow color, add a black mask, and in the effects option, add the Color selection effect.

  • Click on the Color selection effect to access the tools.

  • Click on the Pick Color tool and color-pick the red color on the stitching of the belt.

  • Doing this will only fill out the stitches with color while excluding everything else on the mesh.

  • Drag and drop any kind of metal material on the belt loop to act as a placeholder for the belt loop texture.

  • Group up the layers you’ve made so far and name the group “Leather”.

  • Add a new fill layer with only the color channel on, make sure this layer is between the bright yellow and the base color.

  • Choose a slightly darker brown than the base color, add a black mask, add a fill effect, drag and drop the Cloud 3 texture into the fill effect grayscale, and change the Tiling and the Balance of the texture to fit the reference.

  • Make another fill layer with only the color channel on, add a darker brown color, add a black mask and a fill effect, drag and drop the Dirt 4 texture in the fill effect grayscale, and change the Tiling, Balance, and Contrast.

  • Add a new fill layer with a lighter brown color, have only the color channel turned on, add a black mask and a fill effect, drag and drop the Grunge Dusty texture map in the fill effect grayscale, change the Tiling, Rotation, Balance, and Contrast.

  • Make a new fill layer with only the color and roughness channel on.

  • Search up curvature in the search library, drag and drop the curvature map in the Base color and Roughness channel of the fill layer, change the layer type from Normal to Overlay, and lower the layer opacity a bit.

  • If the colors aren’t adding up well together, you can always go back to the layers and change them to fit the reference you’re using or change them to be to your liking.

  • Make a new fill layer below the Curvature layer, choose a dark brown color, make sure the layer only has the color channel on, add a black mask, add a fill effect, drag and drop a Grunge Dusty texture into the fill effect grayscale, change the Tiling, Balance, Contrast, and Tiling Amount.

  • We can add another fill effect on the same layer.

  • In this fill effect, drag and drop the Cloud 1 texture, and adjust the Tiling, Balance, and Contrast.

  • At the end, lower the layer opacity a bit.

  • Add a new fill layer with only the color channel on, choose a very dark brown, add a black mask, add the Dirt generator, and change the Dirt Generator properties.

  • If you want the generator to only affect the stitches of the belt, group up the layer by itself, add a black mask to the group, add the Color selection effect to the black mask, and use the Pick color to pick the red ID map color to only fill out the stitching.

  • We’re going to drag and drop a texture map in the Substance Library.

  • A new window will open up on the screen with importing options for the texture.

  • Set the type to texture and the resource to Project.

  • After that click on the Import button.

  • Make 2 new folders, one with only the Roughness channel and the other with just the Height channel on.

  • Select both of these layers and group them.

  • On the group add a blackmask and a fill effect.

  • In the fill effect drag and drop the new imported texture in the grayscale and adjust the tiling.

  • In the Height layer, adjust the height.

  • In the roughness layer, we’re going to fix the roughness value.

  • Make a new fill layer on top of the height and roughness group.

  • Make sure it only has the color channel turned on.

  • Group the layer on its own, add a black mask to the group, add a fill effect, and drag and drop the newly imported texture in the grayscale.

  • Adjust the Tiling, make sure the tiling is the same value as the Tiling for the height and roughness group fill effect.

  • On the fill layer inside the new group, add a filter effect on the layer itself and search up the HSL Perceptive.

  • Click on the fill effect to lower down the Lightness, doing so will make all the extruded parts a darker brown color.

  • We want that to have an effect on the cracks between the extruded parts.

  • To do so, add an Invert filter to the group black mask.

  • In the search library, look for the Leather Rough smart material and drag and drop it onto the belt.

  • Add a black mask to the smart material and a Metal Edge Wear generator effect.

  • In the generator properties adjust the settings to fit the reference.

  • Make a copy of the same layer or just drag and drop the same smart material again onto the belt, this time adding a Mask Editor generator to the black mask.

  • Make some changes in the generator properties to better fit the worn-down effect we want to achieve for this belt.

  • To have better control over the Mask Editor, we can group up the smart material and add a white mask to the group.

  • Use a Dirt brush on subtract, press the X key to switch between subtract and add, and start removing or adding the effect on the belt.

  • We can also use the polygon select on the UV shell selection option to fill out parts of the UV shell on the belt, and then go over them with a brush.

  • Again drag and drop or copy the same smart material, group it up, add a black mask to the group, and a Fill effect.

  • On the fill effect, drag and drop a Directional Nouse texture in the grayscale.

  • Adjust the Tiling of the texture before adding a Warp filter on the same black mask.

  • On the Warp filter, decrease the Intensity.

  • Lastly, in the library search, look for the Color Corrector, and drag and top it on top of all the layers added so far.

  • In the Color Corrector, change the Shadows and Midtones to fix up the color.

  • End Result.


Bonus - Substance Painter Shortcuts and Custom Textures


- Adobe Substance 3D Community Assets

  • The Adobe Substance 3D Community Assets is a website where the community shares materials that you can freely download just by pressing the download button next to each posted material.

  • After pressing the download button, it will add the material to your computer.

  • Afterward, you drag and drop it inside your Substance Painter Assets.

  • A new window will open up, the material will be detected as a base material and the only thing that needs to be changed before Importing is the Import your resources to option.

  • If the current session is selected, that means the material will only be there for the time Subtance Painter is being used and if it would close, the material will not be in the Assets library anymore.

  • The library ‘your assets’ option, lets you keep the material inside your library forever.

  • When adding materials to a model, if the model has ID groups, dragging the material while at the same time holding down the Ctrl key, will show all of the ID groups on the model.

  • Dropping the material on one of these ID groups will automatically add a black mask and a Color selection to the material.


- Quixel Bridge

  • Quixel Bridge is a desktop application that is a tool for searching up and exporting Megascans assets.

  • It is a direct plugin inside of Unreal Engine as well that is made by Epic Games.

  • In the Surfaces tab, there are many different materials you can choose from to use in your projects.

  • On each material, you can choose what resolution you want to download,

  • Next to the resolution, there are download and export settings.

  • In the download settings, you can choose which texture maps you want to download on the material as well as the image type.

  • While the export settings are for directing where you want to download the material on your computer.

  • To download a material, just click the download button.

  • Once you download a material, inside the folder there would be all the texture maps from the material, a preview of the material on a sphere, and another preview inside a folder on how it would look on a flat surface.

  • To import this material inside Substance Painter, select only the texture maps, and drag and drop them inside the Assets.

  • In the new window, shift select all the texture maps and set them to texture instead of undefined.

  • Before importing them, select whether or not you want to keep the texture maps in the assets folder forever or just the one-time working with them.

  • To add the texture maps on a mesh, make a new fill layer, and inside drag and drop each map in the correct channel.

  • If you don’t have the ambient occlusion enabled, go to Texture Set Settings click the plus button on the side, and add the Ambient occlusion channel.


- Substance Painter Tips

  • If you want to make changes to the model and still keep the texture process done so far, you can use the Project Configuration option to swap the low-poly mesh with the new and edited one.

  • In the Project Configuration window, click on the Select button, select the edited mesh, and then click OK.

  • There are brushes inside of Substance Painter that work differently than the normal ones.

  • Unlike the Dirt brush or basic brush, these brushes have an animation to them when applied to the mesh.

  • For example, double-click on the Burn brush and try using it on the mesh with a paint layer.

  • It will begin to burn upward from where you clicked on the mesh and make a burnt effect.

  • In the Edit tab, you can change keyboard shortcuts and your workspace background color by going to the Settings options for Substance Painter.








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