Blender Vs Substance Designer

Long version :
When it comes to computer generated materials it seems that everyone would say that substance designer is the software for the job.
To my limited knowledge, generated or procedural materials are combinations of different math functions that take some coordinates as input and output a color or a value, though for the process of creating materials to be easier there are usually some standard available generated functions. ( or textures as called in the cg world )
Example of these textures are the noise, bricks, vornoi, musgrave…etc textures in blender.

Now if that’s true, does this mean that what makes substance designer better than blender in material generation is that it has more default generated textures ? Because both of them are node based and blender has math, vector and mixing nodes that allows manipulation of such textures.

Short version :
What features does substance designer have that makes it better than blender for material generation ?

Looking strictly at texture generation, yes, you can do a lot of the same stuff in Blender. However, Designer has a lot more granular control and procedural features built in. You could level the playing field, but you’d have to do a lot more work in Blender.

That said, in my opinion, a better option is Substance Painter if you could only choose one, as it’s more complimentary. You still have Blender for your procedural stuff. And in Painter, you still have access to premade procedural stuff, plus the ability to paint and run physics simulations (rain, dust, rust buildup, etc)

If you don’t mind would you elaborate on what you mean by ‘granular control’ and ‘procedural features’ ?
Also the physics simulation part sounds great, is it available in both painter and designer ?
All in all I understand the features that make painter better than blender in texture painting, but for designer I want to know what exactly the features that makes it better.

Substance Designer is made for generating mainly procedural textures/materials. It comes with a bunch of tools and helpers to composite the appropriate nodes. You can download a test version for a limited time period. The easiest way to find your own opinion.
Personally I think that it is possible to build all this in Blender too, but it will be rather time consuming.

Blenders generators are at the time extremely limited. There are many things they can do in Substance that is plain impossible to do in Blender (seamless noise/anything basically, comes to mind). However, with substance you’re limited to outputting image textures anyway, whereas in Cycles you “run the nodes” as they render. In Cycles, the equivalent would be to first setup the nodes to produce what you want, then bake out the result to maps and use those - and again experience tile repetitions or the faults of limited resolution.

Blender can do a great job to avoid tile repetitions on patterns that allow it. But I would use substance to create those basic maps you’d lookup in Blender.

By “granular control”, I mean nodes can have an overwhelming amount of sliders and options for randomizing, slicing, dicing, reshaping, etc. With Blender, you’ll spend a lot more time noodling math nodes to achieve the same level of control.

By “procedural features”, I mean there are a ton of procedural textures compared to the few that ship with Blender.

As for the physics features, I don’t recall if that’s in Designer. Once I ended my subscription about 2 years ago, I settled on a perpetual license of Painter and not Designer.

Well I guess it seems obvious now.
So basically if we assume that blender has much more procedural textures and much more control over them it will have more practical ability to produce better procedural materials comparable to designer.

We have a GSoC project ongoing that should close the gap some between Cycles and Substance Designer (in the area of procedural algorithms at least).

Stuff like text and manually defined shapes will still need image textures though.

No, no better. Probably never. Because designer was designed to do just that.
However, it is limited to outputting maps. But maps are faster to render than actual nodes.
Pros and cons.

Yes, but will it make it? One of the changes in the math system is removing the clamp option from the current nodes and get a dedicated clamp node instead. I have a clamp node group in my own math library but I rarely use it; when I clamp it’s typically done in math or color mix nodes. I fear this can break many existing projects.

I don’t see why animation/everything nodes could not stretch into the material system. Like the particle info node but with a reference to object dropdown which could be a particle object or a particle system; would be a way to introduce shapes and text maybe? So you have a cube with acrylic glass material, that new particle info node linking to the particle system and you could have volumetric lichtenberg figures. Oh well, I can dream can’t I :smiley:

Here is some information that might help.

Regarding images. While yes, it can perform that function, and many people do use it for this, that is not what Substance Designer was primarily designed to do. However it is true that the end of a substance chain is in fact an image. Always. Er at least. I think it is still limited to that. But I will get to that subject later.

It is much much more than simply more nodes and more options, though this is true. It does have more options.

The first thing you have to understand is what a Substance is.

A Substance is a node-based material network with built in map generation capabilities. The end result of a substance, are published parameters that can be then manipulated by an artist, to make procedural changes to the look and overall outcome of the material - in another application. Not just in Substance Designer.

Built into the substance network you create are generators of patterns, images, anything you want to throw at it. Plugged in properly these various nodes will automatically update the nodes that create the material properties/maps down the chain.

For example a black and white noise pattern will automatically affect the generators of the properties of the materials through the normal channel, roughness channel, color channel etc.

Now the end of the chain results in the creation of a Substance. You are designing a Substance.

A Substance can then be loaded into various applications such as game engines and 3D apps. In these applications you can then have parameters exposed.

For example you could create a Substance that was a wood generator that could make a variety of wood types. Or bark. or moss on stone or various metals, guts on and on.

As you might guess… there is a large community of people creating and sharing these as well as various paid options and free resources from paying for Substance.

Here are some examples:

Now the image part. It has been a while since I looked into this specifically, but I am pretty sure the substance plugin in Maya requires that the network generate an image that is used in the surface material. I could be wrong on that. But no matter.

A Substance is just that. It is a file that is generated specifically to be used in external apps by way of a plugin.

Hence the name Substance Designer.

Now, Substance Painter, was an app designed to paint with… you guessed it, Substances. And it has evolved over time to be also a very capable 3D painting application that has more or the traditional painting tools you would expect. However, again, built into it is the ability to automatically generate material properties.

And the result are maps you can export to other applications such as Blender, Maya Unity and Unreal Engine.

We use Blender and Substanace Painter/Designer in my studio.

No way I would try and get my artists to use Blender for painting or doing anything nearly as close or fast as can be done in a Substance app.

Substance designer and substance painter were made for creating art for video games. Thus the emphasis on out putting baked image files. Substance Designer has plugins for integration with Maya, Modo, 3ds max, Cinema 4d, Houdini, IClone 6, Poser and Marmoset tool bag. They will let you save a substance designer file and load it in the 3rd party program. There you can have access to change certain features like resolution, base color, normal, roughness, metallic of the substance file with out having to go back to Substance designer to make updates. As far as painter goes it was really made for layering substance files on to an object. The advantages are you can use Edge maps, Cavity maps, Ambient occlusion etc as masks for the layers. I think blender has a long way to go before it will match Substance painter. The only close second is 3d Coat. Of course with Adobe buying Substance designer and painter people may want an alternative. Some of these videos might help

I understand this part about it being a software to design ‘substances’ and what ‘substances’ are and of course regarding this part it is of course better than blender.
But I am generally talking about the image output like what is seen on PBR textures websites where designer is used to create such textures, it is only different from blender because it has more readily made textures with more controls, right ?

I would translate “more readily controls” into “extreme controls”. To replicate some complex substances with ~60 nodes to blender, it require a epic math and vector coordinate chain. A substance function is often a “feature packed” node, tailored with a lot math and conversions to serve a single purpose.

The equivalent in Blender is the good old PBR Uber shader, that is the result of a lot subset of nodes. Or the subset of nodes to produce a proper edge detection feature for creases along with directional wear & tear and effects without the input of a mesh. Color ramping based on a image input is something i wouldn’t know to do in cycles, for example.

I would not say it that way. It is fundamentally different in a number of ways. Some of those differences - and cool features - come as a result of having designed it has a Substance creator. And then additionally, features built-in specifically for the texture process that Blender simply doesn’t have.

Substance Painter takes all of this to an entirely different level for an artist. And is the preferred tool for texturing a model.

Substance Designer is best used to create raw Substance Materials that you can manipulate and paint with in Substance Painter.

Substance painter has a number of completely unique features that set it apart from Blender.

In short. You can’t really compare the two. They both, fundamentally, are designed to do different things.

Blender has painting yes.

An addon could be created, yes.

But you’d have to wonder about the sanity of such a product, considering a very inexpensive one already exists with a head start of years over anything today.

For 3D painting/texturing you have

3d Coat

A choice of one of those is going to be your best bet.