Basics of basics: what are the advantages of procedural texturing, simply put?

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Mant1k0re polycounter lvl 3
Hey all,

I got SD a bit too early in my learning process and put it aside for some time now. With 5.0 being released I figured it is time for me to start learning the ropes.

Thing is... I had a lot of false ideas about what procedural texturing is and can or cannot do. And today when I think about it, I still have issues wrapping my mind around the advantages of such a technique over things like Ddo or good old Photoshop. I have a few elements of answer but nothing solid enough.

•Easy to edit and adjust

•Ability to expose and change parameters directly inside your game engine (but UE4 allows you to do some of this anyway, color for instance...?)

•Size and footprint (if you're not using an actual diffuse map but just solid color...?)

It would be nice if someone could attempt to spell it out for newbies like me :) I would be that much motivated to try and tame the beast.

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  • Mant1k0re
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    Mant1k0re polycounter lvl 3
    Not a valid question? :/
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 8
    Well maybe i should clarify that Substance does not have to equal 'procedural' at all. You can do things without any generated noise or patterns at all, and still have huge workflow advantages like easy to adjust and edit, exposing parameters, and having a lower memory footprint (just a bit more than if you would do procedural though).

    Imagine, you could do a brick texture based on either a black and white image of a brick pattern, with some nice details and shapes, basing everything on that and getting all the advantages I mentioned.
    BUT: you would not be able to change that base pattern easily. Like you can't suddenly change the amount of bricks, or the shape of them. So you're limited in some ways.
    If that brick pattern was fully procedural, you could regenerate it with more bricks, bigger gap, different size, or even just a different seed so it's slightly different.

    Getting the procedural pattern to look just as good as the bitmap will probably take some more time, but you get increased freedom and options that way. It's a tradeoff in some directions: bitmap base is easier, faster at the start, but limited. Procedural is harder and takes a bit more time to polish, but has much more freedom once done right.

    Again though: you can just use Designer and have all the advantages with just bitmap masks. But that, in my opinion means not to use too much bitmaps as a complete start for a material, more as masks and so.
  • Mant1k0re
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    Mant1k0re polycounter lvl 3
    Xoliul wrote: »
    Well maybe i should clarify that Substance does not have to equal 'procedural' at all. You can do things without any generated noise or patterns at all, and still have huge workflow advantages like easy to adjust and edit, exposing parameters, and having a lower memory footprint (just a bit more than if you would do procedural though).

    Imagine, you could do a brick texture based on either a black and white image of a brick pattern, with some nice details and shapes, basing everything on that and getting all the advantages I mentioned.
    BUT: you would not be able to change that base pattern easily. Like you can't suddenly change the amount of bricks, or the shape of them. So you're limited in some ways.
    If that brick pattern was fully procedural, you could regenerate it with more bricks, bigger gap, different size, or even just a different seed so it's slightly different.

    Getting the procedural pattern to look just as good as the bitmap will probably take some more time, but you get increased freedom and options that way. It's a tradeoff in some directions: bitmap base is easier, faster at the start, but limited. Procedural is harder and takes a bit more time to polish, but has much more freedom once done right.

    Again though: you can just use Designer and have all the advantages with just bitmap masks. But that, in my opinion means not to use too much bitmaps as a complete start for a material, more as masks and so.

    Thank you! You make it sound like you can get rid of Photoshop completely with enough practice :)
  • m4dcow
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    m4dcow polycounter lvl 7
    Forgetting the procedural aspect, having it as a simple exporter can save a ton of time. For instance in photoshop you may have stacks of layers that blend different bakes together, but when you tweak something you have to go and re-save any of your changed maps, but with substance you can specify your outputs, pack maps into channels and export pretty easily.

    Also re-using materials and keeping things consistent becomes a lot easier, ie: want to change the color of that stone texture that 12 assets use, you can do that and have it propagate and export.

    A procedural aspect that I find key is being able to go up or down in resolution easily, if you use photoshop you tend to author the textures as large as you can and go down when needed, but there is no good way to go up. In substance you can do this easily and worst case would require you to bake your maps at a higher resolution (which you can also within substance designer).

    I haven't been actively using substance all that long, but after picking it up it has made many things easier, and opened up the potential for a lot more.
  • arvinmoses
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    arvinmoses polycounter lvl 7
    One of the things I really like about SD is the non-destructive nature. I can adjust nodes, add nodes, or even reuse them. Tweaking just a bit can create a completely new texture. While doing a recent art test, I reused a concrete setup to create a sidewalk, a few different concrete wall, and some stacked stones.
  • Mant1k0re
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    Mant1k0re polycounter lvl 3
    Thank you all, it's great to see more answers trickling in!

    The first person to write a book on Substance Designer will make a lot of money

    Someone ought to!
  • MeshMagnet
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    MeshMagnet polycounter lvl 3
    Mant1k0re wrote: »
    Thank you all, it's great to see more answers trickling in!

    The first person to write a book on Substance Designer will make a lot of money

    Someone ought to!


    Youtube videos are much better. :)

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB0wXHrWAmCwLRTzdb-RxadGk_xBBQKar
  • Mant1k0re
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    Mant1k0re polycounter lvl 3
    MeshMagnet wrote: »

    Oh I know all about their channels, a good old paperback provides a different experience though. I do most of my study at night in bed and I get enough screen light during the day to add on top of that at night. So I have a lot of actual books on 3d, and that's what I use. You can take those anywhere and they don't need electricity.
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