Can someone recommend a good 3d painting app for use with Blender?

I have been painting in Blender on my objects. It works well. I even have fairly decent results with Cycles. But I would like to know if using Substance painter or Mari would be worth learning. Note that i am not looking, at this point to achieve super realistic effects as i am using the final renders only as reference model setups from which I will do traditional oil paintings.

So i am looking for something that will allow me to simply hand-paint directly on the 3D model itself. Again I am not interested in bump or height maps and things like that. Just basic hand painting textures.

Thanks for any info on this topic.

Both Substance Painter & Mari sound like overkill for what you want to do, but having said that, you can download both of them for a trial period and see if you like either of them :slight_smile:

For your purpose I think all the painting apps would be overkill, but I don’t know your pipeline.
Substance Painter, Mari, 3D Coat offers fairly usable options for you, but only testing will give you real feedback if you need them or not.

I think you are both right and they might be over kill. But I have owned Substance Painter since it first cam out, the indie version, but have never used it. But I might as well give it a go. I just thought there might be another program out there that I had not heard of and that someone on this forum might know of.

Thanks for the replies. I am now looking at everything I can on the basics of Substance…and how to successfully export fbx files from Blender…

Very much appreciate both of you for taking the time to reply.

I have trialled substance painter 2 in the last 2 weeks and have to say that after unsuccessfully trying the blender internal (I am too stupid ;-))))) texture set-up I am all in for that app, because it is easy to use and the non-destructive layer based workflow does work well for trying out things. Blender export into FBX seems pretty straightforward to me and using a PBR shader set-up also gets Cycles produce very good results even using the Metallic workflow (although you can get a diffuse-glossy out as well - on the latter Blender Brit on YT did a good tut to get you started). On metallic roughness workflow you can google Cycles PBR to get shader set-ups. I used one similar to which you can also set up yourself using Allegorithmics PBR explaination of what is exported, but blackhart gives you a fantastic shortcut, so check him out. I am using height maps instead of normal maps, though, as I think Cycles can handle them better and you do not have to use displacement.

Only caveat is that Substance Painter is 150 USD for indie license which might be a lot for an average blender user. Another limitation is that Substance is only painting up to 4k which might be suitable for engines (their main purpose), but makes it hard to paint one 8k atlas in one go. Also note: Blender seems to have issues with the 16bit PNG output, so I export TIF and convert into PNG for the mix maps and to JPEG for the Base Colour, to keep GPU mem usage low.

Thanks eknightGER. Thanks for the reply and the tips and link. The Blackhart article was interesting and i will give it a try. I will also look at the Blender Brit Youtube later.

I have Sub Painter 2. But right now it is crashing both of my computers. I am working with their tech people but it is slow going and so far nothing has worked so I have to hold off until the problem gets fixed. I might try Mari for the test period to see how that works out. I have seen others mention the 16 bit PNG problem and they too have said to save in TIF.

Thanks again for taking the time to offer your help.

Just a heads up - BHF is using normalmaps incorrectly.

Thanks eppo…I noticed one of the comments indicated someone was having problems. But I am not smart enough with Blender (yet) to know how the normal maps are incorrect. But thanks for the heads-up on it.

@michaelws In a short:

That might be the reason I got better results with height maps. Just export a height map from SP2 and you can use it into a bump node and plug that output into the normal values of all shaders of Blackhearts PBR set-up and you will get some very good results. You have to unplug the displacement connection into the material output node, of course. But I admit I lack the background knowledge on the “how” for bump / height / normal as well. Big advantage of using height maps: According to SP documentation they give you more control and what I found is that they are way smaller than the normal maps in mem use - which becomes an issue quickly if you render at GPU and mess up your texel density (like I do with smart UV unwrap - as I am really bad at UV unwrapping). So height maps are better for memory management as well I guess.

Hope you resolve your computer problems with SP2 quickly. Happy blending :-)))

Both of you are way beyond me with nodes and mapping. I will get there but right now my needs are simply to paint a good texture map onto my meshes. Sadly I am having no luck with Substance Painter 2 and even though they do reply to my technical questions they take a full 24 hours to respond…maybe they are located in the UK and the time differential is the reason. I am also checking Mari but so far I am not even able to get a brush stroke to appear on my mesh in that program. But I just downloaded the trial version this afternoon and have only watched a few of the tutorials…and those are geared to version 2. And of course, the UI is changed in the current version so I am hunting for menu items and tabs that have obviously been changed. If I get it to work I might try the Steam version which is reasonably priced. If not then I will plod along in Cycles with my painting and then maybe put the image into Corel Painter and give it a more painterly look.

thanks for all of you input though…I am learning a lot.

Isscpp do you know what the differences are in the non-commercial version and the indie steam version? I could not discern that. I did install the non-commercial and it seems to work fine for my limited needs. I guess I will find the limits as I learn more. But it is pretty fluid as far as hand painting goes…once I get the hotkeys and all figured out for navigating and color selecting etc.

Thanks for the heads up on this.

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Just an update. I got Substance Painter 2 (indie version) to not crash my computer by rolling back the Nvidia driver to version 362.0. After a couple hours of crash free performance, I have my fingers crossed and am continuing to learn the basics of this program. It seems a little more complex in it work procedures than does Mari. It is also capped out at a 4k resolution whereas the full Mari version goes multiple times higher than that…but i doubt I need more than a 4k res.

Happy that I can concentrate on learning rather than trouble shooting hardware software conflicts. My major gripe with both programs is that they are not compatible with my Wacom Cintiq Companion 1 with it’s Intel HD 400 GPU. So I am back to using my Intuos 4 blind tablet. But that is okay…tolerable. And that Mari non-commercial will allow me to use it for free is terrific.

Absolutely nope!
I never used Mari either. I’m just aware that is a good software for 3d painting and that now comes with that license.
I can’t help, sorry…

After days of struggling with some programs…Substance painter and Mari and Quixel and just Photoshop 3D and realizing what I could work with and what I could not, I have stumbled upon one that gives me the best of any and all of those three. 3D Coat! I never would have guessed.

Mari will not work with my Wacom Cintiq Companion as it is too much for the Intel GPU and Substance Painter 2 also stumbles on the Intel. Quixel works on the Wacom but it has no color picker eyedropper so that pretty much rules that out…unless I just couldn’t locate it. mari has a limited symmetry mode that seems to set the axis locally depending on where you are on your mesh and there are some other issues with it as Mari has you paint on a floating surface before it bakes the paint or texture to the mesh.

I know that to really learn these programs takes far longer than what i have allotted. But the learning curve for them is way too high for me right now.

3D Coat seemed to have everything right at my fingertips…was far more intuitive for hand painting and it comes with tons of video tutorials that are far better for the beginner than any of the videos for the other programs. It seems those other vids, for Mari and Quixel and Painter 2 are geared more for intermediate texturing artist, who have a better grasp of the terminology and can move along with the instructor whereas I have to constantly stop and replay parts many times to catch on to what is being done.

So, at least for now, I am one happy camper in that I can now intuitively paint my models exactly how I am accustomed to, like the tools in Corel Painter and Photoshop that I have used for many years. I can, and will, learn more about the depths that 3D Coat can offer my workflow and even dab a bit on a less strenuous time table into Mari and Painter 2 and Quuixel…to see if there are parts of those programs that do what 3D Coat cannot.

But I wanted to come in and offer my findings for other artists that might have needs closer to mine where I just want to achieve my “look” by using traditional painting tools. Thanks to all for your feedback and help. I am now going to dig deeper into Blender to learn better ways to build my models so that I get better seam placements and experiment with higher res models and or UV maps. I think 3D Coat will allow me to work in 8k resolution. That is higher than Substance painter right now and higher than the mari non-commercial version.

Anyway, thanks again for all the input. You folks are great.

substance painter is amazing