Join Joel Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video The Explorer section, part of Substance Designer 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Although we have already done a little bit of work inside the Explorer window, there are still a few extra controls and bits of functionality that we need to be aware of, as they can certainly be a big help to us. First of all then, let's take a look at the options available along the top of the Explorer panel by clicking to select our substance package. And we can see that some of the buttons instantly become available for use, the first of which lets us save the selected element. This, if our package has not previously been saved, will prompt us to select a location on our storage drive.
And if the package has been previously saved, then the command will simply update the file with the most recent changes made. Next up we can view our substance inside the Substance Player if we want, although if we click this, we may be prompted by a message that says the Player cannot be located. If this is the case, and if we haven't already done so, we can go ahead and download the Player application. If it is already installed and simply can't be found, then we can click the Locate the .AXI file if we want, or we can simply go ahead and click the Cancel option.
If we have the Player installed and found, then the command simply will open up the Substance Player application and load the substance texture into it, which can be a fantastic way to preview our materials, including any exposed parameters that we may have set up without having to constantly jump in and out of Preview mode in Substance Designer. Also, if we up the resolution to 4K, add some displacement by setting the method to Tesselation, with 64 iterations and a scale of 0.5, you can see that the Player updates very quickly indeed.
Let's close this then, then come back to Substance Designer. Next, we can quickly publish our substance to a .SBSAR file with just the click of a button. We will be asked where we want to save the published substance to, but at the end of the process we will have a file that can be taken into Substance Painter, UE4, Houdini, 3ds Max, and so on, with all the controls available that we have exposed here in Substance Designer. The next button is one way in which we may want to give something back to the Substance community, in that it lets us add our current substance to the Substance Share website, a resource that allows users to make their textures and materials available as a free download for the Substance community.
The dropdown gives us the ability to provide just an uneditable .SBSAR file in case we want to share but would like to protect our texturing methods. Or we can share the fully editable .SBS file if we'd prefer, and so give users the ability to open up our substance graph in Designer, and then edit and break it down to their heart's content. Moving to the inside of the Explorer panel, if we want to quickly create a new package in here, then we can just right click in some empty space and choose the new package option from the list that appears.
Down at the bottom of the panel, we have the Dependencies button, which, if we click, lists a lot of the nodes that we can already see over in the graph. You may also notice that these actually have the .SBS extension attached to them. Now this is because most of the nodes that we use in Substance Designer are just a collection of lower level nodes that have been packaged into a substance with parameters exposed for us to use. For example, if we come over to the graph, find the Polygon2 node, right click on it, choose the Open Reference Command from the list, and then choose to open the graph, we can clearly see that this is the case.
Well, looking more closely at these tools and seeing how they have been constructed, can certainly help us move towards building our own tools once we become more familiar with the Substance Designer application. To close an open package, we can just right click on its name in the Explorer panel, and select the Close option. Now, it is possible for us at this point, looking at this type of complexity, to start to panic, especially so given that we appear to be breezing over things, perhaps causing you to start thinking that maybe Substance Designer is just way too complicated.
As an end user though, we really don't need to worry about creating tools or functions of our own if we don't want to. Substance Designer ships with more than enough tools for us to create awesome looking materials. In fact, this simple relief graph was made using nothing but standard tools in Designer. If we have a need though, the power to create entirely new tools in Substance Designer is there for us to use.
- Choosing the correct graph template
- Importing meshes and maps
- Adjusting the UI layout
- Working with the Graph, 3D, and 2D views
- Using the atomic nodes
- Creating and combining normals
- Blending shapes together
- Creating MDL materials
- Building an FX-Map
- Publishing a substance
- Using a substance in Unreal