Substance Painter as Look Dev workflow

General / 07 April 2020

Using Substance painter as a look development solution rather than a final output can expand your texture flexibility and at the same time reduce your draw calls in a lot of situations. The main premise of this workflow is to initially create your textures in Substance painter as you normally would but then export the correct maps and reconstructing them in Unreal Engine.

1 Bake your meshes and create your textures.
2 Export the Normal, AO, and curvature maps (you can make specially configured exporter to avoid exporting them one by one)
3 Export any additional masks that you created like dirt, smart masks etc by right clicking end exporting
4 Create a folder that hosts your main texture created and save as a smart material
5 Open the tiling sample file and apply the smart material and export as a tiling texture
6 Import everything in Unreal and rebuild it as shown above

The 2k tiling asset and the 4k specifically textured asset are indistinguishable in this image. The 2ks advantage apart from the lower memory usage is its re usability on other similarly textured assets which is not possible with the 4k.

After baking your mesh use the Substance configurator setup to export Normal and a channel packed AO Curvature maps.

Look development phase - Simply start create your textures as you normally would on your mesh. Use the AO and curvature maps as fill layers to get a feel on how they will look in Unreal.

Right click and save any additional masks you wanted to output including smart masks etc.

Create a top folder and drag all the other folders textures etc in it. Save this folder as a Smart material and close the project.

Open the Tiling Material project from the Sample projects in Substance painter.

Import the smart material you created before. You may need to import individual texture layers sometimes depending on the texture complexity. Note that any specific paint layers will have to be added as individual masks.

Import the tiling textures textures, AO/Curvature and any additional masks and reconstruct the material in Unreal. As you can see the AO curvature texture has a free slot (Blue channel) where we could have easily placed the dirt mask in making our material even more compact. Over the entire level this method will be more cost efficient than individual bakes since you can reuse the tiling texture on other assets and bake asset specific AO, curvature, masks if needed to get more details in your materials.

 As stated above the free blue channel in the AO , curvature mask could be used to house Mask 1 should you wanted to get an even more compact material.