MDL learning resources

This pages presents learning resources for working with MDL graphs in Substance 3D Designer.


Here is a list of helpful documentation and reference for furthering your understanding of MDL materials, and their usage in a rendering engine such as NVIDIA's own Iray path tracer.


Our Substance 3D Tutorials website offers the following content related to MDL graphs.

Creating an MDL in Substance 3D Designer

This series is a great starting point for discovering MDL graphs and working with MDL materials in Designer.

The metallic clearcoat material covered in this tutorial is impossible to define only through textures: it features two separate specular highlights that behave differently: one rougher metallic coat with speckles, and one very smooth clear topcoat.

"In this course we cover the basics of creating an MDL in Substance 3D Designer. We will be recreating a physically-based metallic/roughness shader as an MDL to illustrate the core concepts of the MDL nodes and graph. In the second video we will look at creating a car paint MDL."

MDL malachite material breakdown

This article walks you through the production of more elaborate material which cannot be achieved solely through textures either. Here, the synergy between MDL graphs and Substance compositing graphs is leveraged to achieve great results very efficiently.

"In this epic tutorial, Mark Foreman, Senior Environment Artist at CD PROJEKT RED, breaks down his winning MDL material for the Materialize Contest! You can download Mark's material on Substance Share."

Click the image to access the tutorial

Getting started with MaterialX

Once you are comfortable with MDL graphs, you may jump into MaterialX, another material definition standard rapidly adopted in the 3D visualisation industry, using our plugin for Substance 3D Designer. The plugin lets you author MaterialX materials through by interfacing with MDL graphs. Please acquire the MaterialX binaries before installing the plugin:

"Learn how to install the MaterialX plugin for Substance 3D Designer, how to create a first graph, and where to find the example files."

BB8 mesh and textures are copyright Lucasfilm, used with permission