Join Brian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video What are substances and why use them?, part of 3ds Max: Substance to Arnold.
- [Instructor] So probably the first question that we should address as we head into the body of our course is what exactly is a Substance? Well, the technical answer would be the published Substance is a package or archive file that when imported into a host application, is made accessible through the UI as an editable map type, something that can then be hooked up to a material, or materials, in order to give the user access to a parametrically driven texturing system.
One of the big strengths of the Substance approach over more traditional texturing methods is the fact that the creating artist can expose some very specific control parameters in the texture to the end user if they want. Controls that can range from something as simple as being able to change the surface color or output size of a texture, going all the way up to more complicated effects such as adjustable edge wear, controllable surface corrosion, or even the blending of multiple material and/or surface types on the same piece of geometry.
From an artist's point of view, the benefits that come from using this kind of parametric system are huge, given that any changes applied to the various parts of the texture are instantly incorporated into, and so can be seen, in the file material. This alone makes Substance an extremely versatile and powerful system with which to work. Adding even more weight to that statement is the fact that algorithmic substance based applications are all physically based in their approach to the creation of surface properties.
Meaning they take the laws of physics, specifically light, into account during the texture creation process, something that isn't true when we author our textures in more standard image editing applications such as Photoshop. Substances can be put to work in the material pipeline of a number of host applications that support the .SBSA format, including 3DS Max, Unreal Engine, and Houdini, to name just a few.
Now, of course not everyone will want to use a Substance archive inside their DCC application whilst doing texturing work. In fact, many artists will either prefer or possibly even need to continue working with standard bitmap formats in order to control the various component parts of the materials that they are creating. Which is not a problem, seeing as even Substance desire, which is actually the only application in algorithmics lineup that can currently output a Substance file. Well, even it can output its various material channels as a set of bitmaps in a variety of image formats, with both Sustance Painter and Bitmap Material three being able to do the same.
The basic workflow that we will be following in this course then, given that we are focusing on bringing textures from the Substance based tools into 3DS Max and then rendering with the Arnold engine, is to assume that we're handling both modeling and UVW mapping inside Max itself. And then we're taking the geometry into one of the Substance applications in order to create the final textures for it, bringing back into Max so as to take care of the material, lighting, and rendering phase of the project, using, as we say, the Arnold engine.
- Why should we use substances?
- Choosing a substance workflow
- Using Bitmap2Material in 3ds Max
- Building up your material
- Working with substances and maps from the Designer application
- Using a substance with Arnold
- Improving your substance results
- Exporting your map types