Keeping Up with Tight Deadlines in Archviz with Substance Source

  • Architecture


Hi, my name is Daniel Margunato. Thirteen years ago, I integrated a video game and animation school in Paris, in my early days I dreamt of working for a big animation studio like Pixar. 

As far as I was studying, I discovered more industries around CG and art like archviz. After my first internship in an architectural agency, I knew it was what I wanted to do (short time projects, full process: modeling, shaders, light, and composition). 

I began at ArtefactoryLab, and after two years I moved to Australia to get more independence, then returned to Paris, where I worked for different companies to improve my skills. 

Now I’ve been a freelancer for 10 years and I’m the co-owner of Oneblock City, a collective of freelance artists. We take on many types of projects, mainly architecture, but also product design, interior design, and landscaping. 


Most of my inspiration is out of the office: I love to get out, take my camera, and hunt for nice pictures, moods, textures, and compositions. 

I also love series and films, I often hit pause to check out composition lighting and color moods. 

Social media also helps a lot to see either the work of colleagues or photographers to get ideas and inspiration. 

Freelancing in archviz 

Archviz is a good compromise of creation, time, and results. Most of the time we have a week or two to create a first set of images. 

Most of our clients ask for a representation of their project with multiple freelancers competing. It’s a good exchange to get the best result.  

The only disadvantage is that we always run against the clock. I would love to spend more time on detailing, make more artistic views, but delays are always a challenge. 

From my point of view as a freelancer in archviz, three points are very important to note:  

  • Quality matters a lot. Always do your best to deliver a high-quality product. 
  • Reactivity: Our clients are always changing the initial concept due to the competition format. So always listen to the needs and adapt. 
  • Anticipation: When I’m not working on projects, when the clients are reshaping a project, or when I have some free time: create assets, materials, compositions, etc. 


I discovered Substance five years ago when a team from Allegorithmic came to our office and presented their tools. 

I directly saw all the potential that it could give us on our productions for 4k unlimited seed maps and precise materials.  

Substance Designer coupled with the Substance Source material library gives me the possibility to create the right materials with simple tweaks until I’m satisfied with the result. 

Moreover, I can generate many seeds for the same source to get very complex material that never tiles without effort.  

I also use it to create imperfections maps and FX maps, which I generate in a few clicks to get a more realistic result. 

Co-working Project made for 

For the co-working project, we work together with to create a nice coworking space concept.  
This experience was super useful for them to be capable of testing colors, materials, and layout of all the furniture together, to achieve the perfect match. 

They had a precise need for materials with available samples. For example, wood veins and colors were a big deal, also concrete, terrazzo, tiles, marbles, and fabrics. 

The Manitou office project 

The Manitou head office was a competition commissioned by Agence Unitée. The challenge was to get a nice Corten façade material; for this project I used Substance Designer from scratch with simple nodes. 

I also made the pavement in Substance Designer from scratch. 

Plant scanning 

For this, I took photos of separated elements, then imported them with the Substance Designer scan tool, and there you have it! 

Substance for archviz 

For me, Substance can do everything, depending on your deadlines, you can, by using Substance Source materials, do something very nice and accurate for your needs in a few clicks. You can play with all the possibilities that it offers. Sometimes simple nodes are just enough for a great result. It can also be used to create dirt, scratches, and cracks in no time. 

Future use of Substance 

I wish I had more product or interior design, to dive into Substance Painter or Substance Alchemist. Those tool looks incredible and I hope that by the end of the year I can integrate them into my workflow.  

All image courtesy of Daniel Margunato

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