AI Power, 2D Painting: a Massive Boost for Substance Alchemist

  • Architecture
  • Technology
  • Workflow

Brace yourselves, for this new release of Substance Alchemist takes your material work one gigantic step further. From the incredible quality of AI-based image to material workflow, to the introduction of 2D painting, the summer looks like it’s going to be texture-rich.

Image to Material: now with AI!

Bring the outside world into your creations. For the first time, tap into the power of AI to convert a simple photograph into a full material with incredible accuracy. No need for complex and expensive photogrammetry equipment; use pictures taken on a holiday or in your backyard, in any lighting condition.

The Image to Material filter will generate a perfect albedo, as well as normal and displacement maps which closely match the original real-life surface.

Let’s take this photo of stones Wes took in his backyard:

In just a few clicks, it becomes a material:

The filter works with any NVIDIA GPU – and even better, it computes in just a few seconds on your NVIDIA RTX GPU.

And this is how Wes’ backyard ended up in Daniel’s scene. Note that the leaves and bark were also made with the Image to Material (AI Powered) filter:

Today, this feature works best with outdoor materials, as our algorithm was trained with grounds, pebbles, bark, stones, walls, and more – rendered with a single light source: the sun. Further updates will bring even more flexibility and versatility to the feature.

Here are some materials made with the new Image to Material (AI Powered) filter:

If you want to make sure to make the most out of the filter, we’ve worked on a tutorial just for you:

And for the engineers, avid learners and simply curious minds, we have more information about how we trained the algorithm in this presentation by the Substance Alchemist team at GTC 2020.

Easily use textures from anywhere, Poliigon, Quixel Megascans, ScansLibrary, Arroway… There is a vast number of sources of quality content available online. And that’s without that legacy textures folder we know is gathering virtual dust in your computer. 

So we’ve tried to find the simplest way to use them in Substance Alchemist: drag & drop textures. Let Alchemist do the channel matching for you. You’re ready to go.

Here we’ve used this texture from Arroway:

Create unique materials with new edition tools

A painting mode has landed in your 2D view! 

Take control of the details of your materials. Add a little water, choose where the dirt settles, or break patterns.

Control your brush color, your brush size and paint on your mask. Invert the color or change your brush size with your usual shortcuts. Learn all the best practices for 2D painting in Substance Alchemist in this tutorial:

Mask painting is currently available in many filters including Atlas Scatter, Dirt, Moss, Water, Cracks, Paint, Perforation and the Custom Mask Blending mode. But this is only the beginning of painting in Substance Alchemist. 

Explore new content

Today in Substance Alchemist you get new cracks, moss, floor tiles, stitches, and more.

And two dedicated shortcuts: ​​

Shift + Drag to automatically scatter your atlas:

Alt + Drag to automatically position your decal:

Need atlases and decals? There’s a large collection of both on Substance Source, and they’re especially tailored to work in Substance Alchemist. Learn everything about our atlases here; and read all about our decals here.

Play with new tools

The team is happy to bring you a series of new tools you can use in Substance Alchemist. Push your material creation workflow even further with the addition of a new perspective correction tool. Watch it in action:

The clone tool has improved, too, and can help you tile your materials in a new way:

New tools also include a new Blend Mode with a per channel blend, Text input parameter support, new meshes (Shoe, T-Shirts), Hybrid filters composition. The full release note, with all the details, is here

Meet the team

The Substance Alchemist team, together with Daniel Margunato (, co-owner & 3D artist), who joined us for the creation of this release’s artwork, will be live on YouTube on June 25. Wes McDermott (Head of Substance Demo Artist Team), Baptiste Manteau (Product Manager, Substance Alchemist), and Rosalie Martin (Senior Software Engineer, Substance Alchemist) will be happy to answer your questions!

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