What's the point of Allegorithmic Substance Designer?

I am interested in the other two products they have (Painter and Bitmap2Material), so I’m considering buying the full indie pack (which also includes Designer).

But I’m confused about its usefulness. From what I understand, Designer is a tool to create materials, and UE4 already has its material editor. So what’s the purpose of Designer, when you’re using an engine that already has a material editor? Those who use it (on UDK or Unity), do you think it’s worth it?

By the way, the indie pack is 40% off on Steam until March 24th and on their site until April 6th.

I know it’s not integrated to UE4 yet, but I am considering it will eventually. And I must decide before the discount is over.

Designer can be used to generate procedural textures, process existing ones, generate masks etc. Using it with ue4 as a node based texture editor/creator could be very useful.

Like Jordan said it can be used to generate all sort of procedural textures but it can also do so much more that than. For example you can use it to set up certain types of wear and tear on your weapons and have the weapons “age” over time as the player uses them and this is without having to generate any extra textures. I also use it as a tool to give my textures some uniformity with things like wear, edge scratches, and rust. Basicly I have a few substances that I have set up that I add to my texture pipeline so that in the end everything comes out looking more or less the same but a little bit different. I have also been using painter but its just not there yet for me to consider it a good tool to use ATM. It will be cool once they add some more features to it but now I feel its more of a wow this is cool than wow I could really use this.

So I understand why Substance Designer is useful for proceduraly creating materials. But I’m still not clear if UE4 reads these materials in as editable, procedural material nodes, or if you just bake out textures in Substance Designer and then load it up into UE4 as a standard texture map.

The way it worked in UE3:

You would make your diffuse, spec, norm, etc. maps in Substance Designer, export them as a “substance” file, and then import that substance into UDK. UDK would read the substances sort of like “dynamic textures” that had adjustable parameters (which you would define in Designer). These textures would be applied to materials like normal image textures. Only they weren’t normal, they had dynamic parameters, etc. dirtiness, color, or whatever else you wanted.

Of course, you could also export the textures you created in SD as normal images, and use them that way. They just wouldn’t be dynamically adjustable in UDK. (Apparently this is how UE4 works.)

So Substance Designer is basically a more powerful, texture-oriented version of the UE material editor. Plus it comes with awesome mesh-based features like curvature map baking. Just get the trial and mess around with it if you aren’t sure.

Hope this helped :slight_smile:

(somebody correct me if I’m wrong btw, I’ve only played around with it once or twice. :))

Not only are they adjustable but the final texture bake in UDK could be done while the game was actually installed lowering the space requirements for downloads, I think thats the biggest benefit of the substance tools in comparison to using just Epic’s material system.

Thanks for the answers, helped me decide to take the whole package after all :slight_smile:

This is where you have it wrong. Substance is useful for producing textures. You can generate all manner of textures from either scratch, or augment existing ones. Think of each node as a photoshop filter and you get the idea. In UE3 there was an extension to allow you to generate these textures at run time. Can’t wait to use that same functionality in Unreal 4.

I found Substance to be an awesome combination of manual and procedural texturing. For instance, I would paint the base diffuse, and then overlay it with a procedural noise map to make it dirty, using the curvature map as a mask. Having the procedural-generated textures there was much easier than doing it yourself with a grunge brush or something.

Sorry to piggyback… I’ve been playing with Substance Designer the past couple days, but I’m having a hard time seeing the major differences between building a Substance vs building a Material in UE4. Is it just that SD has a lot more functionality for working on textures (compositing them etc), because it seems like UE4 has a lot of that functionality as well? Trying to determine if using SD would just be redundant over learning to build Materials directly in UE4.


The setup with Substance is completely different than the material editor in UE4. The difference is that we are using textures and not shaders. The shader is regenerated frame by frame and this can be very expensive as soon as you want to do static blending. On the flip side, there are some animated effects that can expensive to generate using substance. For example animating water flow. A simplified look at it would be to say that static blending is suited for substance and dynamic animated effects frame by frame can be best suited for shaders.

It can be more complicated to build complex shader networks versus substance materials as well. You have more fine control in Substance Designer to author the material which is not possible with shader only. However, both substance and shaders work very well together. Substance is only generating textures and you can easily extended the effect in the UE4 material editor. For example, you might build various water types that can be dynamically changed using substance. You then modify the substance output the texture in UE4 material editor to animate the txcoord with a pan node. The main point is that the two workflows work very well together.



We definitely should have some kind of procedural textures “Substance editor” in UE4 Material Editor made by epic.

Sorry for the necro but has this functionality an impact when using substance files in UE4. I mean procedural textures should be more expensive, right? hope this helps

No, they’re baked to textures and so are essentially cached when they’re generated. They only regenerate if you change a parameter in the editor or explicitly tell them to.

Please no. Please work on bugs and getting Blueprints to C++ speeds before messing with the Material Editor (which is and has been fine for a good majority). Substance is and will be the king of PBR texturing.

You can test procedural substances in Unreal to see what it is. Go to and download a free substance. Install the substance plugin in ue4 and import the material you’ve downloaded. You’ll see how great these materials are!

Sorry to bring up an old thread however, are you still of this opinion as far as Substance painter is concerned?

Not him but you could just test a demo or something. It’s way better now than it used to be. Painter is really good for actually painting textures/materials and is used in Paragon too.

I understand this, my question wasn’t for me to try the software “or something”. It was soliciting his opinion. My intention is not to be rude but direct. I would like to know what Sam Deiter thinks about a piece of software.