June 2021 is a big month for the Adobe Substance 3D apps. First, as you may have heard, the Substance toolset is now connected to Creative Cloud. Second, as part of our ongoing efforts to create the best texturing app possible, it’s time for a new release! This latest release of Painter provides an update to the asset panel, a new shader, an overall refresh of the UI, some much-requested performance improvements, expanded language support, and more!
Asset panel goodness
One change that’s immediately visible is the new asset panel (previously known as the shelf). We’ve updated the look and feel of the asset panel, with the goal of making it easier to navigate. And, as Painter is increasingly part of a more extended ecosystem, we took this opportunity to align as much as possible with the other Substance 3D apps.
We’ve moved the asset panel to the left of the app window by default; this is in order to maximize the amount of space available for the viewport, to help you focus on your artwork. We’ve also updated the asset panel with new icons and filters allowing you to quickly find the asset type you’re looking for.
Asset type icons
One element that we’ve added to the panel is the asset type icons. This allows you to select different types of asset; you can choose between materials, Smart Materials, Smart Masks, filters, brushes, alphas, textures, and environments. Also note that you can select multiple types of assets by holding Ctrl and clicking. This could, for example, allow you to search through both Smart Materials and ‘regular’ materials at once.
If you use custom saved search and filtering queries, don’t worry – these will still work with this new asset panel.
And it’s now possible to have a list view of your assets, in addition to the existing small, medium, and large thumbnails.
A new breadcrumb system is available at the top of the asset panel. if you’ve selected one or more asset types, and you navigate through your asset library by breadcrumbs, each menu that appears will probably contain sections that are grayed-out. This means that these categories within the menu don’t contain any assets of the type(s) that you’ve previously selected. You’ll observe the same behavior with the filter icons. A grayed-out icon means there are no assets of this type with the current search criteria.
This change just makes navigation around your asset library a little easier, giving you an extra navigation option if you don’t necessarily want to open the ‘Filter by path’ panel.
We’ve improved the generation and loading times of thumbnails in the asset panel, and Painter now reads the thumbnail directly if it’s present in an SBSAR. You can also now control the memory budget for asset previews through an environment variable. This is particularly useful when working with very large numbers of assets, as the time needed to display the asset previews can be substantially reduced with a larger cache budget.
Previews of Smart Materials will appear twice as fast as before, while previews of SBSAR files will appear three times as fast. And in terms of reading thumbnails present in an SBSAR, the increase in speed is blindingly fast – hundreds of times faster than before.
We’ve also revamped the thumbnails of the asset panel; they now have a consistent look across all apps with displacement!
Performance anxiety? Not so much
This update brings some notable performance improvements. They include:
A huge boost to speed, for large layer stacks
You’ll see a major boost in speed when adding a paint layer on top of a layer stack containing a lot of layers. That first stroke will now appear in the viewport almost instantaneously, whereas previous versions would require several seconds for that stroke to become visible.
To date, Painter has converted height information to normal details, as generally it is easier to work with height using a black and white value. With this latest update, we’ve added a new method of conversion called Sharp, which allows for more precision in high frequency and hard-surface details, especially when tiling your material. This option is valid per Texture Set.
Painting and tablet improvements
Notable improvements to painting and tablet support in this new release include performance boosts when painting on top of a complex layer stack or dealing with a very large number of paint strokes.
We’ve also fixed a longstanding issue with sticky sliders when using some tablets. If you still have issues, don’t forget to read our guide to setting up your tablet correctly for Painter.
This latest update also adds improvements to the auto-unwrap feature. Packing performance has improved, and the following options have been added.
UV Island orientation
Within the Unwrap Options window, you can now select UV island orientation. This allows you to orient your UVs depending on your original mesh. This could be particularly useful for hard surface meshes; you might, for instance, use it to ensure that the grain of a wood material is positioned lengthways along a mesh of a door, as would be expected in real life.
Auto-unwrap now works with UV Tiles! You can find an additional setting in your auto-unwrap options which will determine the total maximum number of tiles in your project.
The number of UV tiles you use should at a minimum correspond to the number of materials in your project (in order to have 1 tile per material).
Raise your standards
Painter adds support for the new Adobe Standard Material (ASM), a PBR material specification that introduces new material behaviors such as clear-coating, sheen, anisotropy, and specular edge color, as well as improved subsurface scattering.
All applications in the Substance 3D ecosystem now use this new material specification by default, allowing for total visual parity and consistency between all Adobe apps. The addition of this shader means that your projects will now maintain exactly the same appearance across all Substance apps.
The integration of this new shader has also allowed us to improve the shader API overall and add an additional 8 user channels, for a total of 16.
Bring your apps together
We’ve made big strides in bringing the Substance 3D tools closer together, facilitating a smooth, fast workflow. We are leveraging some of Adobe’s interoperability API to allow these workflows; for versions of Painter installed from the Creative Cloud app, you’ll be able to access the following features.
Import assets from Sampler and Designer
It’s now possible to send assets directly from Sampler or Designer into Painter. Simply click on the ‘Send to Substance 3D Painter’ button, and your asset will transfer across to Painter. Moreover, provided you haven’t closed your session of Sampler/Designer and Painter, you can modify assets in Sampler and Designer after the fact, and update your asset in Painter with a click. So, let’s imagine you create a material in Designer, send it across to Painter, and apply it to a mesh. You then decide to modify your material in Designer, and resend the new result to Painter. In this case, the material or filter will update automatically in the asset library.
Any assets sent from Designer or Sampler like this will be saved in Painter’s default library location (in ‘Your assets,’ if this has never been changed).
The Designer team have also introduced new graph usage tags, allowing you define whether an asset is, say, a filter or a material. Painter will recognize any such tags you’ve assigned to assets in Designer, and interpret their type appropriately.
Send assets to Stager
You can also send your assets from Painter directly to Stager while preserving all material channels and shader settings, including subsurface scattering and displacement.
New Smart Materials
This latest release of Painter comes along with more than 40 new Smart Materials, allowing you to add materials such as lichen-covered stone, night vision glass, rubber cable, oxidized bronze, and many more to your creative projects. All of these materials are available for download on Substance 3D community assets.
One more interop point: it’s now possible to show your resources in Adobe Bridge. You’ll find this option by right-clicking on an asset, in a sub-menu of the ‘Show in’ option. Bridge is a great way to organize your assets in one central location; as an added bonus, thumbnails for downloaded assets are visible in Bridge, making it much easier to find your assets at a glance.
A note about these interop features: the interop changes mentioned apply to versions of Painter installed from the Creative Cloud app only; versions of the Adobe Substance 3D apps installed from substance3d.com or Steam won’t have the full range of interop capabilities.
Find 3D assets online
In order to help you find resources more swiftly, we’ve also added a ‘Browse 3D assets on the web’ button. Clicking on this will open Substance 3D Assets, our 3D content platform formerly known as Substance Source, in your browser.
Making a connection
Painter’s connection to Creative Cloud brings with it a change of nomenclature. Going forward, we’ll be referring to our app as ‘Substance 3D Painter’, or simply ‘Painter’. Rest assured that the app itself works just as well as it always has. The core of the app – its substance, if you will – remains unchanged.
This change of name does have some practical impacts for current users of Painter, however. The change of name means that your previous settings will be reset to their defaults; if you aren’t working on default settings, you’ll have to manually restore them to your own preferences. Notably, the app will search for resources in its default asset library. If you’ve previously added resources to your library, you’ll need to specify the correct file path to access those resources in your asset panel.
Please find more information on this point here.
And one other point: this update inverts the default direction of the viewport’s Zoom function, in order to make this function consistent across all Substance 3D apps (as well as with apps across the 3D system more widely, such as Maya). If you prefer to maintain the legacy Zoom direction, this can be accomplished by reversing Zoom direction in your Settings window.
And let’s end with a note on languages: we’ve added new translations for Painter in French, German and Simplified Chinese!
For complete details on this latest release of Painter, please go ahead and check out the latest release note.
The Adobe Substance 3D suite includes apps for 3D creation, as well as content for use in your artwork. For more information, take a look at our articles:
Stager – Painter – Sampler – Designer
Models – Materials – Lights – Creating the Lights