Substance Notes



When I was last full indie, I kept extensive notes on the tools I used. I stored these in private Google Docs, and still maintain them in archives. Going ahead with this new venture, I'll be keeping notes on this site and making them public. I hope I help you learn something. This series details Substance Designer and Painter.


The only time the Launcher needs to be open is when using the Source to Substance functionality. Otherwise it seems to do something in the background and has a bad memory footprint.



Important Hotkeys


Height Mapping

Blend Modes

The following content is extrapolated from the Substance Academy series "Mastering Blending Modes".

Key Terms

Add (Commutative)

Subtract (Noncommutative)

Multiply (Commutative)

Divide (Noncommutative)

Min (Commutative)

Max (Commutative)

AddSub (Noncommutative)

Overlay (Noncommutative)

JRO Notes


I purchased a few packs of annotated Substances from JRO. Once you understand the basics of how a Substance graph works, one of the best ways to learn more is to unpack an existing graph and see how the results were produced. These particular graphs are reasonably well organized and have plenty of additional notes.

Forest Mirror

This graph collected all the noises into a single Frame to avoid re-use. Clever, but makes for a lot of stretched connections. At the time of writing, I still don't fully understand the implications of the render time.

Low intensity (0.01-0.001) Slope Blur Grayscale with the same top and bottom inputs can be used to "expand" noises.




Known Tutorials

Key Terms

General Notes





Right-click a Layer → Instatiate across texture sets... (Ctrl+Shift+D) → Select Texture Sets.

Now any updates made to parent Layer will be reflected in other Texture Sets.



From the overview in the Academy video series, Alchemist is used to preview and export visual collections of materials. There's an Inspire function that extracts color palettes from images and uses them to generate material variations. Furthermore, it uses a generative layering technique that simplifies what happens in Designer, allowing a less technically-inclined artist to simply layer Substance materials on top of each other and use exposed parameters to non-destructively achieve variations.

Alchemist supports full blend masking, with an internal mask drawing tool that can generate new ambient occlusion and leverage height data.

As of 14.11.2020 the Image to Material (AI) node is trained for ground surfaces, and will give best results with such inputs.


Bitmap to Material