Most of the PBR material creators I’m finding as “alternatives” are like crazy bump. It’ll help you generate a normal map, and diffuse, roughness, etc. But it’s fake and subjective.
If you you don’t move the camera, and take the same picture but with light from specific directions, substance alchemist can do Pretty much all the work for you and gives you a fairly accurate result to what you’re actually looking at. It calculates roughness, metallic, normal map, etc. The other software I’m finding is just the user guessing, based on a flat lit image.
Nvidia actually had a tool quite a while ago that did something similar. You took the same picture with a light from X, Y, -X, -Y and it created an accurate normal map for you based on that. It was a photoshop plugin. And it was, ok. At the time, it was amazing, because that method works even if your object is somewhat reflective. The methods of “take a flatly lit picture exactly from the front, then photoshop the hell out of it” is lots of work, and doesn’t work with reflective materials very well.
With alchemist you can actually scan something like hammered metal, and it works. Shoot, it even calculated transparency if you add a light behind the object and include that image.
I was just curious if there was something that allowed you to do the same thing. Take a series of images with the light positioned differently, then it spits out the maps for you. The only job left is to make it tileable. And yeah, alchemist does an Awesome job from what I can tell. But unless you’re doing that All the time, it’s a bit expensive. I’m looking to make a few materials here and there, as needed.
There are a few fairly good substance Painter alternatives, but I haven’t seen anything to replace Alchemist.