Substance Tips and Tricks from Experts: Game Edition

Gamers around the world, unite! 

It’s time to dust off your console, rev your graphics card, plug in your LAN cable. The best of games are waiting for you. But first, check out this sample of recently released and upcoming games (made with Substance!)

We share your wonder. We know our tools and what they can do. Yet it’s still a little bit amazing to see the sort of things that they helped create.  Full disclosure: when there’s a new game release, we buy a copy, we play it in the office, and we try to figure out how they made that. 

And sometimes we get really lucky, and have the absolute pleasure to talk with the teams who worked on the game. And learn amazing stuff in the process.

Apex Legends

In this showreel, you’ve seen excerpts from Apex Legends. We met the team last year and got a breakdown into weapons texturing, as well as a good look into the studio’s organization. 

Courtesy of the Apex Legends team at Respawn Entertainment

The best tip comes from Brian in the Respawn Entertainment team. A lot of us will probably feel called out, but you know he’s right when he says: “I only have a few tips for overall workflow within Substance Painter, and these are aimed at the beginner to the intermediate-level artist: Try to keep your layers and folders labeled even if it’s just a basic name, especially if you’re creating work for a project where other artists might need access to your files.”

Gears of Wars 5

The Gears of Wars 5 team also has a few words of wisdom for character artists out there.

If we change the bounds of a character (add asymmetric detail), then the center point of the character can change when re-importing into Substance Painter. This makes sense, but in the past it could cause existing 3D strokes to move, and even if it didn’t, it’s nice to have control over the center point of the character; you might not always want it to be the average of all vertices! One simple trick to help with this was create small planes that are a little outside the bounds of the character that create an artificial bound, then the center won’t change between imports.

Control

In Control, the entire material library for the game was created by a team of one: Miro Vesterinen.

Always plan the scale and resolution of which you want to create your textures so that reusing materials on different surfaces becomes much easier.

I’d also recommend always working from big to small shapes and thinking on how you can break to surface into a reusable nodes or smart materials, to keep the quality and style consistent. Substance Designer graphs can also quickly become spaghetti, so it’s a good idea to add frames and comments for future reference.

Miro will be live with our team to tell you more about his workflow on March 19. Get ready to ask him your best questions!

More expert wisdom?

Enrico Tammekänd joins the long list of Substance Source signature artists who stop by our YouTube channel for a livestream. Ask your questions to Enrico, learn about his best practices for Substance Designer.

The Signature series had us meet with Daniel Thiger, Javier Perez, Ben Wilson, Kyle Horwood, Don Arceta, Jonathan Benainous, and more to come! Don’t miss them as the series will continue to grow over the months.

The Substance in Games showreel is a bit of a tradition for us. In case you missed the former editions, here are the previous years’ editions: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.