Exploring Project Substance Alchemist for Archviz with Lucas Lino

Meet Lucas Lino and his 502 Apartment project, which we found so impressive we decided to use it as the main visual for the software’s latest release last month.

Hi Lucas, thanks for taking the time for this interview. Could you introduce yourself to the community?

Hi, my name is Lucas Lino, I’m 20 years old living in Vila Velha, Brazil. I’m a student of Architecture and Urbanism in the Vila Velha University and also an intern in an architecture firm, Angatu, working mainly with ArchViz.

What is your background? How did you get into 3D?

I have always had extreme curiosity and proximity with design and the creative process. When I was younger, I already had a great will to learn and work with 3D modeling, but until I got into college, my experience in this area was practically null.

At the beginning of my architecture classes, in 2016, I got to know more about SketchUp. I already had that desire to learn 3D, and because it was a very didactic software, my experience with it was a great kick-start for me. For a long time, I used it as a tool for my college projects and, as well as for many personal projects aimed at delving into ArchViz.

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In the middle of 2018, Architecture Visualization was something that I was already deciding to specialize in. However, at the same time I was not very satisfied with my work so far and with my workflow, so during that time I decided to try other software tools for modeling. I tried things like Blender and Maya, but 3ds Max was where I felt most comfortable. After a lot of learning with tutorials, and also a lot of practicing, I became very capable of doing the things I wanted to model.

When I became aware of the Substance suite, I started using Substance Painter for some props I had created during my learning process with 3ds Max, and soon after with Substance Designer, which I quickly incorporated into my workflow.

My inspiration comes from many sources: from art of another artist that I see while browsing Twitter or ArtStation or some projects from architecture firms that I follow. Even work that is totally different from what I do has certain things that can inspire me, sometimes the lighting, the atmosphere, some details, among other things.

Did you learn Substance in school?

Actually no, pretty much everything I learned about 3D modeling and rendering was all by myself; I had very little contact with that in college. But starting on architecture classes was the incentive I needed to start devoting myself to learn more about it, which made it clear for me that it was something that I really liked and would want to specialize in.

My first contact with the Substance tools occurred when I was looking for more software that could help me texturing some of the models I had already created using 3ds Max. That was when I started using Substance Painter. Alongside that, I also learned about Substance Designer.

Currently, Substance Designer is essential in my workflow, and with the experience I had so far, it is very good to use Project Substance Alchemist together with Substance Designer, either to mix materials or to make small adjustments on the textures.

Could you tell us more about Project Substance Alchemist? How did you first come to use it?

My first contact with Project Substance Alchemist was through social media, both by Allegorithmic and also by other artists I follow who were starting to use the software. I was interested and went to look for more about how it worked. As soon as I had the opportunity to try, I did, and I must say it was love at first sight. 🙂

How has been your experience so far with learning this tool? How fast were you able to make your first creations?

It’s amazing, it’s such an incredible tool that really impressed me right away. In the first 10 minutes, messing with the software and blending some of the materials I had made with Substance Designer, I was creating some really fantastic materials very quickly, and using the fast weathering capacity of it to improve others very easily. That’s when I got the idea to start a small project to understand more about the software and actually introduce it to my workflow.

Could you describe your use of Project Substance Alchemist on your 502 Apartment project?

At the time I was gathering references for this project, I was really inspired by a project from Gus Wüstemann Architects, the Affordable Housing Langgrütstrasse. I really loved the aesthetics of the project: the way the wood and the concrete were used on it was my biggest inspiration. Also, I tried to capture a bit of the lighting from the location.

But I think the main stars from this project are the materials, and in the beginning, I wanted to capture the same feeling and color palette. But during the creation process, I made some modifications and choices that pleased me more.

Project Substance Alchemist was essential for me to get as close as possible to how I wanted the look of the materials, and to make these small modifications that I needed quickly.

For the creation of the materials I basically used two methods: The first was using only a diffuse map, which was the case of the wood material used in the kitchen:

With this diffuse map, I was able to work with the filters from Project Substance Alchemist. With the Parquet Pattern Filter, I could get the wood pattern that I needed; by tweaking the Adjustments Filter, I got exactly what I wanted in terms of color, texture, and roughness of the material, and to finish a bit of weathering with the Dirt Filter. From that, I was able to generate other maps with no problem.

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The wood material of the floor and the material of the cabinets from the kitchen were made by using the materials of Substance Source as a base.

In the case of the floor material, I used the “Parquet European Ash” as a base. For this material, the only modifications made were basically weathering; I made some adjustments in their color and their reflection, but overall the material by itself already looked like what I needed.

For the kitchen furniture, I used the “American Chestnut” material as a base, and with the adjustments filter I was able to modify its color and roughness and it was possible to give a totally different look to the material and get exactly what I wanted. The Dirt Filter was very useful and essential to create the feeling of it being a real material.Original Substance Source vs Final Material

And to create the material I used on the walls of the apartment, the Concrete Panels, the process was also very similar. I used the Substance Source material “Shuttered Panels” as a base.

But the original material was a bit too rough for me, so to give a more smooth texture and try to bring a little bit of imperfections for the material, I mixed it with another concrete material, this time one that I had done with Substance Designer, for another project, and to finish it all together I worked with the Adjustment Filter and did the weathering.The Concrete Material in Project Substance AlchemistFinal Material

To send the materials for the project in 3ds Max, I just needed the Substance plugin, which automatically converts the .sbsar into a material for Corona Renderer, making the process even easier and faster.3ds Max and Corona Renderer

What have you learned using Substance Alchemist?

Applying small imperfections, such as dirt, is essential for you to bring the feeling that that material really exists, and that it is placed in a real environment. From the experience I had with Project Substance Alchemist, I found it perfect for creating these imperfections, as well as minor modifications you need to do, quickly in the material. Using only some of the filters, such as the Dirt Filter, can help you get that small layer of details that really make the material pop up on the scene.

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I usually like to stack two to three layers of the Dirt Filter and in each of these layers vary the amount and intensity of the dirtiness. All of this depends on the look and story that I want to tell with the material; building these layers of dirt and dust on the weathering process really decreases the impression of flatness.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Unfortunately, I had no time to really dig into the new Project Alchemist Substance update, but I was able to see the new things and mess around with them a little.

I was very happy with the new filters and all the new stuff that was added; this update made me really excited about what it is to come in the coming months. I really think that Project Substance Alchemist has great potential and I really want to see what is coming in the future!

Thank you Lucas!

All images courtesy of Lucas Lino.