Material lovers, welcome back! This time, Javier Perez is in the cockpit for a Signature collection that will take you in orbit aboard the space station, with 15 brand new fully procedural materials inspired by the space conquest. Embark for a journey in weightlessness with the space shuttle and inside the ISS living quarters and a few extra vehicular sessions.
My name is Javier Perez, and I’m a senior material artist currently working at PlayStation. I’ve been in the industry for 8 years now and I graduated from The Art Institute of California – San Diego. Throughout my career, I’ve worked at studios such as Infinity Ward, Kojima Productions, Intrepid Studios, Sony Online, and Redemption Games. I’ve contributed to projects like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Lawbreakers, and Planetside 2.
Like many kids, growing up, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I’ve always loved the idea of going to space and spent a lot of my time playing with my favorite Lego rocket ship. From Alien to Gravity, I still love watching movies about space: I find the environments captivating. I never did become an astronaut or a space explorer but this collection is my own mission to space.
Chapter 1: Living Quarters
This project as a whole was a huge challenge. A lot of the inspiration came from real-world reference pictures that I found from different NASA missions.
They took me out of my comfort zone with very unique and detailed shapes and forms. I really wanted to push these features to make them seem as if they were modeled and baked from a high poly source.
I relied heavily on tile generators and tile samplers, as a lot of the features repeat. I spent most of the time allocated to create these materials on the main hard surface shape, which would inevitably be tiled. Some of the shapes are very unique and time-consuming, and required a lot of different adds and subtracts just to get one shape.
A lot of the more unique pieces were hand placed using transform 2DS since I didn’t want the placement to be left to chance. This made the material feel more handmade and made sense structurally. There were difficulties: I had to be careful not to add too much detail into the base shape so it could still look unique after tiling. It was a subtle balance of trying to figure out what to add before and after the tile sampler.
In this category, the pattern of most elements can be hidden, and the colors can be altered. I wanted artists to have the ability to change the color of the material, as well as hide elements that they didn’t want to use. officially.
Chapter 2: Space Station
These materials were a nice change of pace from all the hard surface shapes from the previous categories. I felt like I could be in my comfort zone with some more organic looking materials. Cloth is, in my opinion, one of the most challenging materials to create in Substance Designer because of its natural shapes and forms. When creating these different fabrics, I made sure I could utilize the same combination of nodes to get the same look and consistently across each different fabric type.
Like the previous materials, I utilized the same techniques and created a base shape that would tile accordingly. To create the main folds, I used the Crystals node blended and warped with different procedural noises. It was a constant process of looking at the reference and seeing how closely I could match the folds forms and shapes.
My biggest challenge with creating fabrics was that I wanted the folds to have some sort of purpose and weight to them. While Substance Designer in itself is great at randomization, the ability to control and mask what areas receive certain folds and creases is what makes it shine. With the Random seed parameter, I was able to get different variations of folds that I could place on each different tile before repeating.
Parameters allow the user full control of the weathering in a material; dust and dirt collect in the crevices and colors can be changed for the dirt. This dramatically changes the material from something that looks brand new, to something that has a few years of wear.
Chapter 3: Space Shuttle
These materials were some of my favorites and, in my opinion, some of the most exciting to create. Each exterior panel material could be used as a tiling texture on a wall or a floor piece, but where they really shine is when applied to a more unique piece of geo like a curved surface or cylinder. For these materials, I aimed for something that could represent a spaceship or rocket exterior when applied.
The height maps of these materials were pushed a little more to emphasize the unique shapes and forms once tessellation was applied. For the engine, I utilized a combination of tile samplers as well as creating and hand-placing unique shapes such as the pipes. The pipes were made up of a 2D image that was composited using different shapes and blends, and then also using the non-uniform blur to give it some roundness.
Because of the exterior nature of these materials and how they could be used, the wear is more exaggerated than the previous categories. Scratches and dirt are a little on the heavier side by default but can easily be edited by the user to create something new and clean.
It has been my pleasure and honor to work with the Substance team on this signature series. I hope these materials can help you both in your work and in your future space travels.