3D View issues

This page lists technical issues related to the 3D view in Substance 3D Designer, and offer troubleshooting steps for each.


Low performance: Discrete GPU is not used

(error) Issue

Substance 3D Designer does not use the system's discrete GPU (dGPU), and uses the integrated GPU (iGPU) instead. This results in low performance when rendering graphs and/or the 3D view.

(tick) Recommended steps

Systems with switchable graphics can force the dGPU which should be used for a specific application in dedicated software, depending on the GPU manufacturer.

For instance, users with an Nvidia dGPU can do the following:

  • Close Substance 3D Designer
  • Open the Nvidia Control Panel
  • Go to the Manage 3D settings screen in the 3D Settings section
  • Look for the Substance 3D Designer entry in the Program Settings tab
  • Select High-performance NVIDIA processor in the preferred GPU combo box
  • Start Substance 3D Designer

Please note integrated GPUs (iGPU) are not supported. You can learn more on the System requirements page.


3D object is flat

(error) Issue

A 3D object which featured detailed volumes in one session becomes flat in the next session, however the graph has not changed and the Height map carries the same data.

(tick) Recommended steps

The deformation effect of a 3D object according to a Height map is performed using a technique called Tessellation displacement. This technique involves two steps:

  1. Tessellation: the object geometry is subdivided into vertices, resulting in a denser geometry to support finer volume detail
  2. Displacement: the vertices are moved - i.e. displaced - along their normal vector. The normal vector follows the direction a polygon is facing and has a magnitude (i.e. length) of 1

The displacement direction is known: the direction of the normal vector.
The displacement distance by which the vertices are moved is calculated as follows : Distance = Height scale * Height map. Because the Height map has not changed in the graph, that leaves the Height scale.

The default Height scale value is 1.0, which may result in a displacement effect which is not noticeable depending on the mesh displayed in the 3D View and the Height map applied to it.

If not set explicitly in the graph, the Height scale value is reset to default each time a new 3D view render is started, e.g. when loading a graph after starting Designer or switching to a different graph.

This value can be modified in the following ways:

In the 3D view

Open the Materials menu open the submenu of the current material (Default in most cases) and select the Edit option. In the Properties panel, find the Scale parameter in the Height category.

Using this method, you can then use the Save current scene state as default option in the Scene menu of the 3D view to use your custom Height scale value as the new default for all future 3D View scenes.


In the Graph view

Create an Output node and set the "heightscale" usage in its properties, then reapply the graph in the 3D View. You may feed this output a texture, or a value using a Value processor node.

Using this method, you can set a custom Height scale value per graph, which lets you adjust it to match the specific material of that graph.



3D object looks entirely smooth

(error) Issue

After working on the data sent to the Height output, the object appears to have some volume but looks entirely smooth, as if the height information was ignored in the shading.

(tick) Recommended steps

Make sure the height data is converted to normals which are connected to the Normal output.

When using the Tessellation Displacement technique – see "3D object is flat" above – the objects may deform to follow the height data but its surface will not react to light differently until its normals are also modified to account for the height data.

The solution is quite simple: connect the last node of the stream leading to the Height output to a Normal node. Adjust that node's Intensity parameter according to the material you are working on and connect the Normal node to the Normal output.




Render is blurry/pixelated

(error) Issue

The rendered image looks blurry or pixelated when the system uses display scaling.

(tick) Recommended steps

By default, Designer uses the scaled display resolution to define the 3D view's rendering resolution. You can change this so the native display resolution is used instead for a crisp render.

Open the Edit menu and select the Preferences... option. In the Preferences window, open the 3D View section and set the Viewport scaling parameter to None.