Substance Painter tutorial - How to add some randomness to a "tiled" Material
In this tutorial, created with the 2019 version of Substance Painter, we will see a basic technique that allows us to reduce, at least a little, the tiled effect deriving from the use of Materials with repetition over large surfaces, such as for example with a flooring.
The tutorial is, as mentioned, basic, but it still gives some concepts already expressed in the Playlist to which it belongs, or "Substance Painter", so I suggest you see those videos first if you are new to Substance Painter.
Ok, that being said, let's get started!
The problem we want to solve is this: when we supply a Material to a very large surface and we have to repeat it several times, the repetitions of this Material become all too evident; this is the case, for example, of the "Cobblestones Small Gray" Material, which here I am adding to a simple plane: when the scale is at 1 the Material looks good and without repetitions, but when we set the scale to 8 or greater (for example, to texturize a street or a square --- but it can happen, with other materials, even for walls or other surfaces), the pattern begins to show evident repetitions.
A very simple and fast (but effective enough) method to solve the problem on the fly is to insert a Fill Layer to multiply this Material with another one, providing the latter with a map of non-repeated randomness (or with few repetitions); the multiplication of a color by a gray value, in fact, has the effect of darkening the original color (and of bringing it to black, in case of multiplication by black), as it is a matter of multiplying that color by a value in the 1.0 and 0.0 range.
We proceed in this way:
- we add a Fill Layer, placing it on top of the base material; the new level will fully cover the underlying Material;
- we disable all the channels of the Fill Layer except Color;
- we change the layer blending mode to Multiply: all the original Material will appear darker to us, as previously mentioned;
- let's then right click on the Fill Layer and choose "Add bitmap mask", then type "Clouds" in the search box that will appear and choose a map ("Clouds 2", in my case).
The mask will apply the gray layer to some spots on the surface, introducing some randomness to the original pattern.
"Clouds 2" is a native map of Substance Painter and is available, with many other maps, in the "Procedurals" section of the Shelf; they are therefore procedural masks, generated by algorithms, which can be modified by acting on their parameters in the Properties tab.
We can replace "Clouds 2" on the fly with another procedural map by dragging this map from the Shelf to the "Grayscale" section of the mask fill layer, as I'm showing on video.
To make the final result more or less dark we can act on the gray value of the Base Color of the Fill Layer, but that's not all: we can adjust the intensity of the multiplication by acting on the numerical slider under "Multiply" and we can also add some Levels to the Noise Texture in order to act directly on the histogram (by modifying the brightness and contrast of the Texture), if we consider it appropriate.
So far I have told you how to darken the base color, with the Multiply mode, but we can change the application mode of the Fill Layer (be careful, here: the blending mode of the Fill Layer, not the one of the Noise Texture), for example in Saturation or Color (and in this case we will be able to set a color, not a grayscale, for the Color channel of the Fill Layer) ...
Substance provides different channels for which we can use a Fill Layer; this, therefore, allows us to act on other components of the base color of an object.
The application of a Noise Texture as a layer mask can be repeated with other Fill Layers, obviously using different Noise Textures, to add further noise to the Base Material, in the same way as the others (darkening several times, with multiplications on multiplications), or in different ways, to act on different information channels, thus creating a stack of masks that will allow us to modify the original material ... but we are not finished with our observations yet.
So far, in fact, we have seen the effects of the Fill Layer on the Base Color information channel, but we can also use this layer on other channels, such as Roughness; in this case, the final Roughness will be modulated by the upper Noise Texture.
To show you the effect at a glance, I activate the Roughness channel of the upper Fill Layer and switch to Roughness view mode in the 3D view.
I deactivate the Fill Layer to examine the Roughness map of the original Material, to better understand the effects of the upper layer; then, I activate the Fill Layer again and change the value of its Roughness: as you can see, when the values are close to 0 I will make the original map darker following the Clouds pattern; on the other hand, when values are close to 1 I will make the original map clearer (and, then, more rough), according to the Clouds pattern of the Fill Layer.
Note that the Fill Layer blending mode affects the Base Color, as we have seen previously with Saturation and Color, but has no effect on the Roughness channel: there, the application mode is always the same (make more smooth if close to 0, roughen if close to 1, always following the pattern of the layer mask).
Finally, we can add a Material on top and define, using the brushes, some areas of influence, to cover the ones below, for an additional level of "randomness".
For example, I add a "Mud Brown" Material, in Normal mode, then I set a completely black layer mask and choose a brush that is not too uniform (for example, "Dirt 1") and I start to make some brush strokes, keeping in mind that these brush strokes, for how the brush is made (grayscale), will add up, so it is possible to make the effect stronger.
Finally, since this is only the mask of the "Mud Brown" Material, we can edit the scale, mapping, color and other parameters of this Material, in its Properties tab.
Well, that's all for this tutorial too! See you soon!