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Why use substance designer rather than more traditional texture/material tools?

I have been messing around with substance designer for texture creation but while I like the idea of it I can’t help but wonder what the point if it really is. It doesn’t seem to be any faster than using a more conventional texture creation program such as photoshop or even quixel (the later of which is a add-on for photoshop) and things become really tedious if you want to create specific shapes rather than just some simple pattern.

Am I missing something? What are the benefits of using this program if everything is more time consuming and harder to do vs just creating stuff by hand in a program like photoshop?

So Allegorithmic’s main play is the ability to create completely parametarized / procedural textures that are independent of ‘finite’ resources (such as a fixed resolution image-based-texture). This allows for modifications (often context based - such as ‘scratch amount’, etc) that can be modified both before and during run-time in a non-destructible manner.

As a generalist, I’ve never found the need to get into Substance Designer itself, but using Substance Source to be super useful, using some of their assets; often containing a range of editable features.

That said - I DO use Quixel for my general painting / texturing workflow (and LOVE Megascans - but that’s sort of the exact opposite principle from Substance). In most projects I use a combination of Quixel and Subtance textures and materials. I’ve also been using Substance Painter - which uses Substances in a painting application (similar to Quixel’s DDO).

Because it’s 100% procedural and ANY step can be changed along the way. Things like tiling are a breeze in Substance Designer. Not only that, but you can make every material output at the same time. Things like your normal, roughness, albedo, heightmap, AO, etc. Due to most of it all being based off the heightmap, you can get extremely accurate results for the various channels. If you need to make realistic PBR textures by hand, SD is the way to go.

It gives a lot more options for texturing than what is in Photoshop alone. Since it’s procedural you can apply a material to a different mesh and it’ll generate correctly according to that mesh. Another thing for games is that you can change parameters during gameplay, so if you want to show something aging over time you can do that.
As far as how it compares to Quixel–they’re fairly similar in some of the main features they do, but Substance is more advanced and it has support within many different programs–for example you can create a Substance material and use it in a game engine or a 3D rendering software.

Wow, I did not know that. That’s very interesting.

There’s a lot of great workflow uses for Designer.

Being able to quickly iterate without starting over.
Setting up flexible standard materials that be be reused, even for baked meshes.
Creating a standard visual style for an entire project.

With a little practice, and a library of materials to pull from, you can create ship-able textures in a few minutes.

But just again for the OP - using substance designer itself isn’t required to gain benefits from substance materials (I wish I knew that years ago when I started tinkering with Substance). There are great libraries, including Substance Source. Actually working in Designer is a whole workflow just to create those procedural textures. Just depends on your specific needs. I use Painter and Substance Source. I don’t need to create my own Substances because I use great ones others have developed all the procedural features for. Definitely check out some free ones through substance source. Best way to get the hang of what you can create with Subtsance Designer itself.