Graph items

graph Items are special elements that help you organize and shape your graphs. Most are not nodes, but helper elements. As such, they are not limited to a specific graph type, you can use them in all three types of graphs: Substance compositing graphs, function graphs and MDL graphs.

There are four different graph Items:


A comment is simply a piece of free-floating text that can be placed anywhere in a graph. It is intended for clarifying and explaining parts of a graph, or for adding simple notes. It is the simplest graph Item with only one property: the Description, which is the text is shown. Keep in mind the Comment does not stay the same scale when zooming in or out: it will only be readable at a specific zoom level.

Dot node

Since Designer 9.2.0 (2019.2.0)

The Dot node is a helper that reroutes your connections. It allows one to simplify and clean up connections by grouping them with Dot nodes. It's especially useful for a case with many, long connections running from one single output slot to many different input slots. The Hotkey to place a Dot node is Alt + Click on a connection wire.
Contrary to our previous redirection dot (split points), this one can accumulate/group links and doesn't disappear when its connections are broken.

 Click here to learn how to use the Dot Node...
  • Inserting a Dot node 
    To insert a Dot node press and maintain ALT, then click on a node connection.

  • Creating a Dot node via a link 
    When dragging a link from a node press and release ALT to insert a new Dot node where the mouse is located. 

  • Creating a Dot node via node Creation Menu 
    Another way to create this new node is to bring it up from the Library.

  • Congregate links with the Dot node 
    Press ALT and move a Dot node over links to merge multiple node connections together.


A Frame is a layout item that groups and marks nodes contained inside it. It can have a unique Title, Description and Color. Out of all Helper nodes, the Frame is the one that can make the biggest impact in organising and cleaning up a complex graph, by grouping functionally related nodes together.

  • Title is shown in a big bold font at the top left. Unlike a Comment, it stays at a uniform scale, meaning it remains legible at a much larger zoom range. A Title's Visiblity can be toggled on or off, if it would interfere with your graph.
  • Description is an optional, additional piece of text intended to contain more information than the Title, with a purpose similar to a Comment. It does not remain at a fixed scale when navigating a graph.
  • Frame Color is the color used to draw the Frame's graphical elements. It defaults to Blue, but you can choose any custom color with a colorpicker. Keep in mind the Alpha Value also has an effect on how the Frame is drawn, by default 0.25 is used so the frame is mostly transparent, but using values up to 1 means the frame can be drawn as opaque.


A Pin, or Navigation Pin is a helper element that allows you to very quickly jump through large graphs. They have a Description property for the text shown alongside the Pin element.

It is tied to the "F2" Hotkey: pressing F2 will cycle through all Pins placed in the current graph, in the order of placement. The View will center on every Pin element at the current zoom level. This behaviour is shown on the image below.

Pins require a bit of planning and getting used to, they mostly make sense with very complex, large graphs where you'd work on a few focus areas often.