Substance Source: 3 Architectural Worlds by Jonathan Benainous

  • Technology

I’m a big fan of architecture. So for this collection, I decided to create 15 materials inspired by 3 different architectural styles – Victorian, Haussmannian and Art-Deco.

I knew that this subject would allow me to propose a variety of surfaces, details, ornaments, and moldings, and to highlight the flexibility offered by Substance Designer.

The main challenge was mostly to show that hard surface materials could become modular in some cases, or become generators. It was also a perfect subject to challenge myself, and to bring the extreme attention to detail that is essential in my personal work.

As a lot of materials in this collection have ornaments, it was mandatory for me to make a height library that I could re-use through the different graphs. Victorian, Haussmanian and Art Deco styles share a lot of classical patterns, but they also have individual patterns; the height library really helped me to remain efficient and consistent between the different designs.

This project was also an opportunity to show how Substance Designer is good at creating shapes, and to continue the study I started with my Baroque Ceiling. For optimization purposes, most of the shapes or patterns have been merged into bitmaps but every height that you’ll see in this collection has been fully made with Substance Designer.

Chapter 1: Victorian Office

To tackle this series inspired by Victorian architecture, I gathered a few references from libraries, offices, and monuments for composition, as well as patterns and shapes that were very specific to that style.

While gathering these references, I started to think about the kind of environment where you could see these five materials. I finally decided to go with this typical Victorian office.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

Here, I made a bookshelf, an ornate coffered ceiling, and a wooden floor as base materials for the structure of my environment. I also went a bit outside the box to experience a new approach with the Chesterfield leather and traditional wall fabric with Damask patterns.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

Colors play a big role in this series; to propose different looks, I used the functionality created in the .sbsar to get plenty of variation. All in all, surface, colors, patterns and shapes were really the backbone of that Victorian set.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

Chapter 2: Haussmannian Building

I’m originally from Paris, France, so I naturally wanted to make a series of materials inspired by this beautiful city.

The abundance of details offered by Paris’s Haussmannian architecture was perfect for a collection of materials. Early on, I had the idea to use the versatility and flexibility offered by Substance Designer to create a whole building with a limited amount of materials.

For the street itself, I made a sidewalk and a paved road material that allow you to create many variations, and to break up the tiling easily.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

I really had fun mimicking all the details that you can find just walking along the street: grid patterns slashed into the fresh tarmac, manholes, or micro details such as moss, cigarette butts, or old chewing gum.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

For the façade, the work on the materials was next level as my challenge was to allow artists to create variations and build up floors without multiplying the number of necessary files. Here, I created the materials Building Door, Building Floor, and Building Roof to cover all the needs.

The .sbs files are pretty dense, but they give you a lot of flexibility. For instance, the Building Floor material allows you to create a ground floor with a low wall, or first/second/third floors with bigger windows; you can choose between stones or horizontal lines for the wall itself, add or remove ornaments, have shutters or not, choose the color of the curtains, and so on.

Chapter 3: Art Deco Corridor

Travel has a very important role in my life: it feeds my imagination and creativity. I recently had the chance to go to Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles; these journeys made me want to make materials inspired by Art Deco architecture.

This time, instead of making a whole building, I chose to make a simple hotel corridor with a plush atmosphere, where brass, marble, ornaments, and geometrical patterns could fully express themselves.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

My key material for this collection was the Elevator Door material, as it includes all the characteristics of the Art Deco style.

I even gave myself the challenge of adding light fixtures directly in the material.

Artwork by Jonathan Benainous
Artwork by Jonathan Benainous

I really had fun making this Signature series and I’d like to thank the Substance team for offering me this amazing opportunity! I hope you enjoy going through the different materials created for this release, and keep pushing the limits offered by Substance Designer!

Meet Jonathan Benainous

I’m currently Senior Texture Artist at WB Games Montreal, and I started in the video game industry about 14 years ago.

I’ve spent most of my career as an environment artist, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside extremely talented artists on AAA productions such as Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls at Quantic Dream, Horizon Zero Dawn at Guerrilla Games, and Ghost Recon Wildlands and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at Ubisoft.

For five years now I’ve become more and more specialized in textures and material creation. After many years of creating shaders in Maya I quickly became comfortable using Substance Designer.

Since I started using Designer I’ve always tried to push the limits of the program by creating challenging pieces of art. I use these projects as studies for my personal learning.

Find more on my Instagram, my Twitter, and my Gumroad.

See even more on Artstation

But wait: there’s more! Check out this live walkthrough of the Substance material creation by Jonathan Benainous on Feb 4, hosted by Wes McDermott!

Read more