, by Nicolas Paulhac

Ultramarine Skies: When the Old Becomes New

Procedural design gives a new look to models we've used before: because you can recycle in 3D, too.

  • Architecture
  • Design
  • E-Commerce
  • Fashion
  • Film
  • Game
  • Transportation

The Substance Source team joins forces again with 3D artist Ronan Mahon!

Welcome to a new Highlights video, created by our team to show designers what Substance by Adobe can look like when used for product design and visualization. In the previous videos, we explored various fields such as architecture, interior design, fashion, product design and packaging design (find the full playlist here).

In this new video, we have chosen to go back to all these themes at once. Using a brand new CMF palette and the latest collections released on Substance Source, we reused 3D objects from our previous projects to give them a different look and feel, and to show the versatility of parametric materials.


This project, like the other Highlights videos, is based on the pooling of two complementary skills through two profiles: those of Anais Lamelliere, CMF designer by training and who carries the vision of the product design process, and Ronan Mahon, 3D artist and video game expert. Both of them explore the benefits of the Substance tools throughout the product design process.


Artwork by Ronan Mahon

We used the collection of parametric facades to illustrate the “staging” phase in architecture visualization.

This phase consists of integrating the architectural project (hero asset, here the X-TAON showcar) in its environment to visualize how this building will fit in the urban landscape. This is equivalent to recreating all or part of an urban ensemble (neighborhood, street, and more) in 3D.

Modeling the secondary buildings that will be part of the final composition is often a time- and resource-consuming task, especially when we want an acceptable level of detail. With parametric façade materials, you can achieve a realistic and detailed result by limiting the modeling to simple geometrical primitives.

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Interior Design

For interior design, exploring material associations and the spatial arrangement of furniture is a key step in the design process.

Following the steps of Calm Escape, we visualized the different variations possible in the scene from a palette of materials and colors. This allows the interior designer to test in real time a multitude of associations at a level of realism good enough to share with the client. 

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Fashion and Apparel

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Procedural fabrics from Substance Source, when combined with Substance Painter functionalities, provide optimal control over the design of materials and their assembly on the garment.

This allows for a photorealistic visualization of different types of fabric weaves. You can customize the colors and visual effects of the weft and warp independently. Or you can also add localized details by painting specific seams and stitching directly on the 3D model in Substance Painter.


Of course, this video was the best opportunity to give our X-TAON a makeover! 

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

First, we focused on the exterior.

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

In addition to allowing unlimited customization of colors and surface effects, PBR Substance materials guarantee visual consistency of the material, regardless of the lighting and renderer used. 

Now, take a peek at the interior! The main challenge for the automotive industry is probably the visualization of interior design concepts. More specifically, the upholstery.

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Traditionally, a photorealistic visualization of seats requires a “Class A” modeling of the object in all its details, including the effects of leather seams, pattern cutouts, and every stitch of stitching lines. This means days and weeks of work for a modeler in Alias. As a result, creative iterations remain limited because any change means starting the job all over again.

Substance offers two major opportunities to challenge this status quo: first, photorealistic parametric leathers and fabrics! Available in Substance Source, they represent an alternative to scanning each piece of leather. This saves time and gives you the ability to customize colors, shine, and grain size.

Secondly, the ability to paint seams and stitching directly into the texture! An opportunity to photorealistically visualize the “baby butts” effects on the seams and draw stitches quickly and easily. As a result, artists get the total creative freedom to explore pattern-making design, stitch shape, and even label embossing shape and position.

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Product Design

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Designing a coherent product portfolio for interior design relies on numerous CMF iterations. Especially since the visual documents created will be shared between design, engineering, as well as with marketing.

Globally, iterating on CMF versions of a product design means visualizing the range positioning of each SKU in relation to a common design language, color palette, and finish.

The “bill of materials” is traditionally an .xls document that lists the material references of a product variation. 

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

Creating a visual version of this BOM offers the opportunity to accurately visualize the designer’s intent by incorporating the SKU’s color references as a Substance material preset.

Packaging Design

Artwork by Ronan Mahon

The specificity of the packaging design process lies in the predominant use of 2D tools such as Adobe Illustrator.

We wanted to illustrate the synergies that can be created between 2D and 3D. That is, the re-use of artworks (logo, texts, patterns, etc.) made as flat designs in the Substance tools to visualize the final product in 3D. 

You can integrate material details (such as paper grains, metal foils, printing ink effects) to push the realism as close as possible to what the manufactured product will look like in reality.

The Substance Source team will be live in April on our YouTube channel for a livestream dedicated to packaging design. Keep your eyes open for more info!

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