, by the Designer team

Substance Designer in October: New Engine, Faster Graphs, Intuitive Parameters

  • Technology

Get ready to explore a whole new version of Substance Designer! This update brings improvements across the board, some for playing, some for power, and some for convenience. You’ll have a new engine, a lot of new nodes and new options, a much better time exposing your parameters, and more! The full list of changes is in the release note.

New Engine V8

With the Substance Engine V8, we can now go one step further in Substance Designer. This allowed us to come up with a few tools, previously impossible. Try them and push back the boundaries of the possible!

New distance computations

There’s more variety in the Distance node. We’ve been using the Euclidean distance mode before; now expand the possibilities with the new Manhattan and Chebyshev distances.


Smoother gradients

Say hello to supersmooth gradients! With the new smooth interpolation mode, you can get a more natural mix between colors. Here is an illustration showing the 3 interpolation modes we now have.

Flat tangents

Easier curves

The Curve node gets a new option as well, thanks to the new Engine: you can now output the curve texture. It works in grayscale only, but you can definitely come up with awesome uses for this mode.

Default values on input images

Input images can now have a default color that is used when no input is provided. It makes it way easier to have optional inputs on nodes: you can replace an unplugged input by something meaningful.

If you want a more detailed breakdown of the new capabilities unlocked by the Engine upgrade, here’s a tutorial:

New filters & options

New options dedicated to adjust your shapes’ sizes on your Tile Generator and Tile Sampler!
– Keep ratio: keep the ratio of your tiles
– Absolute: keep your tile a predefined percentage of the final image’s width
– Pixel: define your tile size in pixels.

Save even more time by combining this option with the Distance node!

Visualize the profile of a height map with the new Cross-section filter. With a little bit of imagination, you can also use this filter to create complex shapes, like so:

The Threshold filter you’ve always needed is finally here! It should be a lot more convenient to use than the Histogram Scan for binary images:

We explain the new content in this tutorial:

Expose parameters

Get more versatility out of your work: expose parameters and give others access to truly multipurpose materials. This is after all one of the incredible values of Substance, the ability to create one single texture set which can adapt to many potential use cases.

To help you get there, we’ve reworked the menu to be more intuitive. Get access to more controls, see better what you can do: the UI is more consistent, and the exposed parameters are more visible.

When you expose a single parameter, everything is pre-filled with the current values of your parameter.  

Learn how to expose your parameters in the new Substance Designer:

Performance improvements 

The team always wants to give you the tools to work on harder, better, faster, and stronger materials. To make this happen, we worked on performance improvements. Node computation now focuses first on the node you’re interested in, then it computes the cache of intermediary nodes. If you notice two consecutive computations when tweaking your nodes, that’s why.

On the Bakers side, we noticed that computing maps using GPU raytracing was now faster than applying the padding post process at the end. So for this release we worked on improving this part and it lead to an approximate 70% speed improvement on the overall baking time. Notice by yourself in the video below:


Do you remember the PBR Render Node? We’ve seriously improved it for the last Substance Designer release, and this time, we’re using it. This nifty tool helps you create automatic icons for your own materials. 

Check this out:

And to make things even better, the displacement will be calculated based on the physical size attribute.

We worked on a tutorial if you want to know more about the icons:

Iray RTX 2020.1

For the upcoming shiny new NVIDIA GPU, we’ve updated Iray. To make the most of this update, we recommend that you update your NVIDIA drivers to 456.38 if you’re under Windows (455.23 for Linux).

With this Iray update, we now support MDL 1.6 as well.

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