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  • Writer's pictureNaijia Jin

Substance Painter Practice

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

This is the final result that I have:


Create high poly-> generate low ploy and uv -> in SP project those lost details back on the low poly.

Baking Texture Maps:

  • Tangent Space Normal Map: Give higher detail illusion on our low-poly model

  • World Space Normal Map: RGB, fake effect from specific direction

  • Color Id Map: not necessary but help speed up material assignment

  • Ambient Occlusion Map: Self shadowing or contact shadows. Used for dust and dirt built up on crevices

  • Curvature Map: the peaks and valleys on the mesh. Do the wear along the surfaces and edges

  • Position Map: RGB, smooth gradient in direction. Useful for direction effects

  • Thickness Map: shows the thicker and thinner parts of the mesh

Create a new project

Option Compute tangent space per fragment is for Unreal 4.

Bake Mesh Maps

Use the high poly mesh to bake all the maps.

Error: High poly scene could not be loaded: Try several times/ change folder names to simpler/ high poly model needs to be fbx binary format

After baking, there are some artifacts and fix that by using match by name baking

In Maya hyper shade, different materials are different texture set in SP.

Press B to loop through different baked maps and to ensure each of them are correctly baked. Press M to view the material.

Laying down Materials

PBR Basics: Metal/Roughness workflow

Base color

Roughness: grey scale. how rough is the surface? tell the story of the asset.

Metallic: grey scale. metal material's specular is the color of object itself, while non-metallic will reflect the light's color.

Normal/Height: illusion of details.

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When painting on material, we paint the selected channels at the same time by default.

And Particles are fun.

Fill layer:

By default, fill the entire mesh with default material

Could use procedurals to control the value of roughness channel

workflow: create layers with basic properties, and then adding masks to them to create the look you want.


  • Using color ID map: need to create color ID mask with zbrush first by poly paint on high poly mesh.

  • Mask by painting: could use orthographic view, could use shift snap. And use different alphas to create different shapes.

  • Mask by polygon: Different fill options. fill triangle/mesh/uv shell.

  • Mask by bitmap: add a texture pattern for masking.

  • Mask by smart mask, for example, add base color high light

Override a mask effect: add a paint effect to paint over it

Folder serves as separation to maps. Seems like layers in the same folder are in the same group.

We add things on top of each other.

Smart Material: when creating smart materials, need to avoid using manually map creation. If using color selection, it will be reading the color map to assign smart material.

Don't be afraid to change any map baking to fix issues along the way.

Adding Details:

Paint Height

Stamping normal maps

using stencils


Essentially we are painting on different maps.

Mostly, folders help defines the different areas that different materials will be assigned to.

More like a top-down approach to build a material step by step.



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