Substance Days at GDC 2023: All the News this Year

The highlights and announcements of Substance Days at the Game Developers Conference.

  • Community
  • Game

GDC 2023 has come and gone, and the Substance 3D team were overjoyed to be able to meet so many of our dedicated 3D community in San Francisco in person – judging by a quick, informal head count, overall attendance was back up to pre-pandemic levels! It was wonderful to see everybody again.

This gave us the opportunity to host one of our Substance Days! This year our keynote presentation included a dive into what’s new and coming up in the realm of Substance 3D, as well as talks by guest speakers:

  • Loïc Paulus, Senior Character Artist at Asobo Studio discussed his character creation process for Asobo’s A Plague Tale: Requiem.
  • Jonathan Benainous and Jared Sobotta of Naughty Dog discussed their work on the environment art on their remake of The Last of Us: Part I.
  • Sam Juarez of Striking Distance Studios talked about his tile mask painting workflow in Substance 3D Painter, on projects such as The Callisto Protocol.
  • Dallas Finerty and Gary Snyder of Electronic Arts detailed their process for using Substance to create uniforms in 3D for the National Hockey League, across a range of platforms.

And throughout all of this, the Substance 3D team were giving a range of demonstrations in areas such as photogrammetry scanning and modeling, as well as reviewing artists’ portfolios.

Watch the Substance Days keynote and aftermovie:

This year, the Substance- and Adobe-related news announced, giving during the keynote presentation and elsewhere, notably included:

Partnership with Epic Games

The team announced a partnership with Epic Games, which will give a new generation of game creators access to the Substance 3D tools. Adobe will make versions of Substance 3D Modeler and Substance 3D Painter available to creators on Fab, the unified digital marketplace due to be released by Epic Games later this year.

Also discussed was a customized bundle and Fab plugin, that would allow artists to use Substance 3D in the recently revealed Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN).

Updates to Substance 3D apps

We announced a bunch of updates to the apps within the Substance 3D suite, including:

We’ve added a new baking mode to Substance 3D Painter, that incorporates a whole raft of updates such as better baking, a better cage, and a range of other improvements to help you get to the texturing stage faster.

Painter will also shortly receive a Curve tool, allowing you to paint smooth, precise curved lines or brush strokes that will ultimately wrap and snap around your geometry. 

Substance 3D Designer is receiving a Portal node, a tremendously helpful feature for cleaning up node graphs, and (temporarily) hiding connections between nodes. Loops are also being added into Designer, opening up the possibility of creating amazing parametric loop-based patterns – or, for example, creating anisotropic effects, such as adding a stylized look to textures. A Curve node is now also present in Designer, which lets you extract the curves from a simple shape, allowing you to create, for instance, stitches or pipes that need to follow a simple path.

Designer now also gives you the possibility to place a model and viewport lighting within a texture; you can then apply this model as you would any other texture – for instance, splattering it, or combining it with a randomized height map.

Updates to Substance 3D Modeler include greatly improved decimation, the possibility to import CAD files, compatibility with Quest Pro and Pico VR headsets, and a great deal more besides.

We also gave a preview of features coming up in future releases of Modeler, including elements such as full real-time raytracing while working within Modeler, and an explode view, allowing you to work on one specific asset positioned deep within a complex character or scene. We also showed how Modeler will be able to facilitate kitbashing in the near-ish future – that is, if you create a shape with simple primitives, Modeler will be able to search a library of assets to find an asset that matches each primitive shape; you will then be able to quickly switch out each primitive shape for a more geometrically complex mesh.

Updates to Substance 3D Sampler include enhanced photogrammetry capture, incorporating elements such as automatic subject masking, easy bounding box cropping, and other features besides; paint warp, which allows much easier straightening and tiling of materials; material super-resolution, giving artists the possibility of creating high-resolution textures from relatively low-resolution images; and updated image-to-material AI models, resulting in a much higher quality of generated textures, notably for materials that have previously presented problems, such as fabrics.

… and much, much, much, much more.

And Introducing… Adobe Firefly

Stepping briefly away from the Substance 3D ecosystem, Adobe also unveiled Firefly, an image generation tool entirely trained on Adobe Stock and public domain images, and built from the ground up to be ethically responsible – for instance, auto-tagging AI-generated content to identify it as such, or opting-out by default the sharing of user-created content on platforms on Behance. In all, the driving concept behind Adobe Firefly is that it must be an AI tool that will enhance, rather than replace, the overall creative process, so that artists can use Firefly in all creative serenity.

Can Adobe Firefly be used to boost a 3D workflow? Well… keep your eyes open.

Enormous thanks to everybody who attended GDC 2023 this year – your curiosity and contagious enthusiasm made this an event to remember! Thanks too to everybody who followed events online – we see you!

Let’s do this all again next year!

Read more