Procedural Improvement - A Substance Designer Journey

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Merlynn polycounter lvl 7

What this thread is for:

Hi everyone! I recently started to get back into Substance Designer after work. I will use this thread to post my WIP steps, lucky finds as well as final results. But most importantly I'm looking for some feedback on my work. Please feel free to C&C I'm happy for any suggestions!

 

Goals:

- reworking my old textures to brush up my skills and improve what's currently on my Artstation

- covering different materials and surfaces

- trying out new techniques and learning some tricks

 

Potential Extras:

- Trying a combined Zbrush-SD workflow

 

Let see how it goes!

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  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Here are my most recent textures:

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Here is a before-after comparison of the cobblestone texture from above. I think not only the presentation improved but also my overall understanding of crafting shapes in SD. While the first one is obviously a tiled brick pattern, the rework already looks much more organic. Turned out a bit stylized though.

    Next on my list is marble.


    Before-After Comparison:


  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7

    Next I'm going to tackle my old marble texture. I think for now I will focus on the green marble. In case I rework the white one as well, I could do some nice mixed tiles afterwards.




    What to improve:

    - The albedo, more details and especially sharper details

    - Adding depth through different layers of "veins", lighter and darker areas

    - Less procedural (or warped-cells-3) look

    - More glossy and interesting roughness

    - Tiles need improvement


     Anything else you could think of?







  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Here is an update on the marble texture. I focused on the albedo. Mainly trying to go more towards realism (compared to the old one), adding some depth and having it look less procedural. Need to tackle the tiles next and add some more dirt/roughness variation. Any critique is welcome :)



  • Khael
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    Khael null
    @Merlynn Hi there !
    Really like the goal of your thread, it gives me the motivation to do the same :)
    For the update of the marble texture, it sure is better in terms of realism thanks to all the details you had and we clearly feel the depth you had on the albedo.
    Something bother me in the roughness/reflection, i like how glossy it is compared to the old one but it feels like the roughness is not uniform enough on the big picture (Don't hesitate if you don't understand what i mean btw )

    For the albedo , i would find it more interesting with less darker area and more lighter ones. maybe some areas could have a complementary color like brown.

    Nice job !
  • Khael
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    Khael null
    Hi @Merlynn
    Wow your last material with additional patterns and golden trims is so nice. I wasn't expecting this but It's working so well :)
    I will create my own thread a bit later in the day !
    Have a nice day ;)
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Some test renders. Still undecided if I'm going for a more warm or cool lighting.





  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    I'm partial to the warm lighting. The texture looks great!
  • adrxzero
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    adrxzero Polycount Sponsor
    Great progress and good work on your textures @Merlynn
  • Finnn
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    Finnn polycounter lvl 2
    Your materials look great! :) Favourited your thread, I hope I can give you some valuable feedback !
    I think your marble material looks good, especially the golden trims and the pattern variation push it. 
    What could be improved in my opinion is your roughness map. It oculd use some (very sublte) but highly detailed surface noise. For example with an edited fractal sum. To make the roughness a little less perfect. Only subtle, if you want to keep the glazed look. But even the cleanest surface always have some kind of noise. 
    The render could be a little brighter. The warmer one is my favourite. 
    Have a nice day!
  • Finnn
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    Finnn polycounter lvl 2
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks everyone for the feedback! Warm lighting it is then!

    @Finnn good point :) ! I will definitely try adding a fractal sum to the roughness. I did that for my previous cobblestone texture and it had a huge effect.

    Meanwhile I experimented with adding a faucet to the scene. As much as I like the idea of having some additional context I have to admit that it didn't really work out. It takes away the attention from the actual texture. (And the cheap test model I made isn't helping the case.) Anyways here is the result. Now back to Substance Designer.



  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Here are the final renders. Added a slight variation for floors.

    Undecided what I will tackle next. I really started to like the curve node, especially in combination with a bevel. Maybe I gonna try a coffered ceiling or something similar next.



  • Khael
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    Khael null
    @Merlynn Ohoho, nice improvements mate ! I'm really pleased seeing the evolution of this material. I looks so nice :)
    I planned to create my thread last week as i had the time to think about what i wanted to work on & to share, but my computer just let me down... :(
    It's repaired now so here i'm back :D I have a lot of environments to work on, and i hope to see more of your work to be inspired !


  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @Khael that's too bad! However keep up your work. Looking forward to see some results :)

    Started a new texture today. As mentioned before I wanted to play around with the bevel and curve nodes some more.

    Goals:
    - learn how to create a believable wood texture
    - find out how to best create some wood grain
    - not ending up looking stylized

    Here is the height map so far. It is supposed to go on a ceiling.




  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Update: I got some usable wood grain going.
    Using the gradient dynamic node for the rings is pretty much straight forward. I saw this being used quite often. However I'm using the tile sampler to have more control over the pattern.


    The real magic is a combination of several noises and warps.

    The result looks quite realistic so far. Next up, adding colors.

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Here is an update on the color. It's already coming together nicely. Picked the colors from an image and fine tuned it by hand. I made some panels slightly darker for variation and added a high pass to bring out the edges more.

    Next I need to address the roughness. I will also add the wood grain to the normal map for tests. Even tough these are probably coated with some clear paint, I think it could really add to it.

  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    looks cool, but perhaps rotating the wood grain at each 90' angle as seen here:

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @MrSmo good point. However I imagined those panels to rather be carved out of a single piece of wood, than made of planks. I happened to see that more often on the references.

    Here is an update on the roughness. I also added the wood grain to the normal map for some slight details.

    And I experimented with some patterns.




  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    That wood grain map is really well done; I'm going to try to recreate it as SD wood has always fascinated me. It looks like the grain of some of your squares continue onto the next square, which shouldn't really happen.
  • Natm
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    Natm triangle
    The textures look amazing! I especially like the different variations of the marble. Keep up the great work! What's your usual workflow when approaching a new texture?
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @Ashervisalis you are right, they do. I'm using a random grayscale map to control the orientation but it looks like some still ended up right next to each other. Need to fix that :)

    @Natm thanks a lot  :) usually I start with the large shapes and focus on the height map only (the bricks, tiles etc.) then I move on to the smaller details. Those go into the normal map and height map depending on how large they are. After that it sometimes gets a bit chaotic since I tend to work on the albedo and roughness together, switching back and forth.
    The marble however was a bit different. The albedo was the main thing, so I started with the color and structure of the marble and added the tiles later on.
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Added some finishing touches and reworked the flower pattern. 
    I can't upload images anymore for some reason, so I need to link you to my Artstation instead.
    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/82v2E


  • Khael
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    Khael null
    @Merlynn Hey nice material as always :) 
    Since last time, I worked a bit on a personal environment to learn more about Houdini and improve my workflow.

    If you want to look here is the link ^^ : https://polycount.com/discussion/203067/sketchbook-khael/p1?new=1

    Will you try to create some exterior material inside SD ? Would love to see some :)

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Uploading images seems to work again :smiley: ! So here are the pics of the final wood texture.




  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @Khael thanks :) checked out the link.
    In fact I just started a new exterior material. I came across this kind of sandstone or limestone brick quite often during my vacation. Thought I will give it a try. The weathering is pretty interesting since it turned the bricks really dark.

    Here is a photo I took.



    And this is a WIP of the material. Right now I think it is probably too noisy and too rough. I will need to tweak this more. Also it seems a bit flat. Any tips and feedback on that is welcome :)





  • Khael
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    Khael null
    @Merlynn Did you use the color random noise node on your pattern to have different heights randomly across your squares?
    I don't remember where i saw it right now, but i can check for you tomorrow if it's useful for you .
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    These bricks have an almost flat surface, they definitely shouldn't have varying heights by too much, so I don't think you need to fix the flatness of it. I do see a diagonal noise which I do not believe should be in this type of brick (I could be wrong though);


    I also think you should make the majority of the bricks dark, as this is the main colour of the brick, and only the bricks which have experienced a lot of weathering/damage are brighter. Lastly I feel you should add more red, like the rust-colour on some of the bricks in the reference.

    Keep up the work :)
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @Khael no I haven't. Not exactly sure which one you mean. The Flood Fill to Random Color? Right now I'm using a Gradient map to get a base. The darker bricks are added on top using a grayscale mask I generated from my tile sampler.

    @Ashervisalis true those bricks are rather flat, also on the image and other references I found. It just feels weird leaving them flat :sweat_smile:
    Also good point, I will break up the directional noise some more (Those are supposed to be chisel marks. But it does make no sense that they are all facing in one direction) and add more red and orange color.

    Thanks for the feedback guys :)
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Worked some more on the directional noise and brick shape. Right now the darker color is added ontop. From what I know the base of those bricks is rather bright. The darker color is caused by the weathering over time. However I will work on the color some more and add more orange as suggested next.

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    I worked some more on the color and smaller details and did some first test renders in Marmoset. Starting to come together but I'm still missing something... :/

  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Ok came back to it after a short break. Turned out it was the overall noisiness again that bothered me. I cannot get myself to remove it entirely. I just think that the texture would get a lot less interesting. So I softened and reduced the details a bit and pushed the saturation even more. Also improved the rendering. Finally starting to like it :smile:
    If you have further feedback, let me know!


    Here is the original again for comparison.



  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    I'm quickly going over the old shadow of the colossus material I did a while ago. I want to improve the presentation and weathering.
    First look:



  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    I think you did quite well with the colours for the church brick wall. Interesting design on the SOTC bricks too.
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    @Ashervisalis thanks that really keeps me motivated :)
  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7

    I worked on the brick some more. Again trying to push for a more realistic look, sharper bricks and more micro-surface variation.



  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Slight adjustments and improved presentation. I can only recommend getting Daniels Tutorial. He got some really great tips that helped me to push my renderings :smiley: Link:https://www.artstation.com/artwork/XqoVD

    Calling this done:




  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    As a little Sunday doodle, I picked a wicker material. The main challenge was definitely the pattern.
    Almost there I just need to fix some small problems and tweak the roughness and AO a bit further. Feedback is welcome :smile:





  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    I worked a bit more on the AO as well as the overall presentation. One thing I noticed it lookes a bit too sharp and contrasty now. Definitely need to tweak that next. Let me know if you spot anything else!




  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Some more updates on the rendering. I did a variation of my wooden ceiling substance and turned it into windows. I imagine the second image to be in some kind of church environment. The first one is more like an armchair in someone's living room :D






  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    Some quick updates. A while ago I did some experiments with patterns. This one for example:


    During the holidays I had a look at using SVGs in Designer since I need them for my next project. Also I watched Lord of the Rings again and it all came together in a new graph :) . Here are some WIP steps.



  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    I did some rendering tests in Marmoset today. The jagged edges definitely need to be fixed still.
    If you have any feedback let me know! :smile:



  • Merlynn
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    Merlynn polycounter lvl 7
    The marble material is still WIP. I need to tweak a few more things.
    In the meantime I worked on a wallpaper material. The pattern is just a placeholder and will be replaced by my own SVG as a next step.


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