Substance Designer Winter 2019: Color Management with OpenColorIO

  • Technology

To round out the year with a bang, we’re releasing a major update for Substance Designer. With a leap forward for our color management system, this update also brings UX improvements, a new curvature baker, and a new Atlas tool.

Let’s take a tour of this new – and improved – Substance Designer!

State-of-the-art color management

From your Substance Designer interface to the silver screen, this OpenColorIO-based color management system lets you guarantee consistent and high-fidelity color imaging across applications and devices. See it in action using the ACES 1.0.3 config., first in Substance Designer 2019.3 with Iray: 

Here are the very same materials in 3ds Max (get the Substance plugin for 3ds Max here), rendered with Redshift: 

And here, again, in Maya (get the Substance plugin for Maya here), rendered with Arnold: 

Use your own OpenColorIO configuration, or an existing one such as ACES, for any material created within Substance Designer. Make sure you’ll get that Academy Award with perfect rendition on screens!

We provide 2 startup configurations, including an ACES 1.0.3 for easy entry into the ACES world.  

Substance Designer allows you to customize your color spaces for any bitmap resources, displays and exported bitmaps. For easier integration, Substance Designer can also detect the color spaces through the resource’s file name. 

In a more advanced production pipeline, it is possible to load a custom OpenColorIO configuration file. You can specify the right path in the interface or by using an environment variable. 

And if you aren’t using a unified color management system such as ACES; you can stick with the legacy mode, which remains the default option. All colors will stay the same as before with no extra setup. 

More control with faster, new bakers!

A whole new Curvature baker

This new, ray-tracing-based baker is a rewrite of the older ‘Curvature from mesh’. Aside from being faster (of course, relative to your mesh as well as your equipment), the Curvature baker gives you more control.

Since we’re using raytracing, it means we can also compute the curvature for intersecting meshes, producing more realistic results. You can also choose the sampling radius for the curvature computation to fine-tune the smoothness of the result.

We’ve also improved the default values to make sure you get the most out of the bakers. No more hand tweaking is necessary!

Improved Ambient Occlusion bakers

And on top of that, we’ve added a bit more spice to the Ambient Occlusion bakers. You can now enable the Ground Plane option, which simulates the occlusion coming from the ground. Make sure your object really gets these little details right and feels like it’s on top of a surface.

Make the most of your atlases with the new Atlas tool

Get absolute control over your use of scanned atlases. The new Atlas tool will save lots of time: you just need one single input, and the node does the rest of the work!

Once you’ve plugged in your single input, it automatically detects the different elements, splits them, and then lets you scatter and splatter and select randomly, change the size of the elements, rotate them, and so on.

To avoid inconsistencies such as a leaf blending through a pine cone, we’ve added the possibility of blending with superposition by height.

And because Christmas is coming up and we like to do a bit extra, we just released a massive amount of atlases in Substance Source. These make a perfect testing bed for this new tool; we’re hoping you’ll enthusiastically hop in!

UX improvements

A few improvements should make your life simpler.

First of all, the preview mode is visibly faster than before. A bit of cleaning up under the hood helped us make it all a bit more streamlined. You should feel the effects even more if you’re loading a heavy material.

Preset management is a lot easier – you can now edit your preset properties! This should greatly reduce the risk of errors and resulting back-and-forths. Watch it in action on this custom node (not included in the default library):

And last, but most certainly not least… It’s been a request from you and we made it happen just in time for Christmas: when a 2D widget (like the position widget) has a ‘visibleif’ expression, it is now correctly hidden or displayed in the 2D View.

Substance Designer 2019 Insanity Awards

The best of the craziest! Starting tomorrow, we’ll give you the list of the Substance Designer artists who blew our minds in 2019.

Already in 2018 we’d been thoroughly wowed by some of you. Emrecan Cubucku had subsequently earned the honor of being crowned insaner than the insanest. Who will win this year? The competition is fierce!

Tune in here for the results.

This release’s artwork is a creation by Tom Carter. Find more of his art here.
The red car we used to model our features is a creation by Amaru Zeas. Find more about him and his art here.

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