Author Topic: Smart Material / Paint / Directional Flow?  (Read 316 times)

Hi all,

I'm new to Substance Painter, and, well struggling a bit.  I've watched a few of the beginners guide videos on the Substance site to get me started and the odd YouTube video as well.

I have a scene where I want to add bark to a stump and a tree. 

I created a smart material for the bark and on the stump it looks quite good (measured only to my utterly non-artist/beginner standards);

(stump, reasonably happy with this)

...however, when applied to the tree the flow of the bark is largely vertical, so it looks kinda weird on the branches.

(tree, vertical bark flow on branches)

What I would like to do is "paint" the smart material that I've made, but have it appearing in the direction I make the brush strokes, thus I could paint along the branches in the texture would be kinda loosely aligned in that direction.

Hoping this is making some sense.

I found a video online where the guy masked out the branches of his tree, then used the "rotation" property of the material to rotate it, this seemed to work quite well.  However, I am using smart materials rather than a standard material.  When I searched online again I found another article that mentioned that layer within the smart material needs to be rotated.

This was kinda painful as the smart material has about 6 or 7 layers which needed to be rotated individually;
but with the same value - the term "smart" at this point wasn't feeling appropriate, but I'm sure that's just my current lack of experience/knowledge.

(rotated approach, would still need many more rotations and is creating seams)

Even using this approach it was that great as the branches twist and turn which means I'll have to keep duplicating and creating more and more masks and keeping rotating more and more, but its all kinda arbitary number guessing rather than being able to select something and then using a manipulator to actually rotate the lot in one go (selecting the folder level of the smart material doesn't expose any rotation properties).

So, I wondered about the "painting" option, currently I've just been using fills.  Is it possbile to do what I'm trying to do, e.g. use the smart material and "paint" it on, in the direction of my brush strokes?

If anyone can help I would be very grateful, also, please can I ask you explain any responses in a kinda "a newbie is ready this" manner, I'm not yet familiar with all of the terms/phrases/jargon/tools and so on, so I'm progressing in kinda baby steps at the moment.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer :)

Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 05:23:27 pm

Create separate UV islands for each branch/ root, and align all UV islands vertically or horizontally. Ideally, use the 'rectangularize' feature in your UV layout app to morph each island into a rectangular shape, the bark will then just follow the direction of each branch automatically if you set the smart material to utlize the UV layout (not triplanar).

You can use a single smart material for the enire tree this way. Then e.g. use the clone brush to hide the seams.
Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 05:51:04 pm

Hi @volker, thank you for taking the time to reply.

I can see how breaking the UVs up would help with this, thank you for the suggestion.

Couple of questions though..

I'm reasonably new to modelling too, currently in my second year of a foundation degree, so only started modelling last year - I'm a "mature" student shall we say...

In the first year, taking the UV islands and "boxifying" them or "gridifying" them as you have suggested was what I was doing, I thought that was the way the models all had to be done and was trying to do that as best as possible all of the time.  At that stage I wasn't using Substance, textures were being created using XNormal and Photoshop.

One thing I noted from the approach was that often the textures would get stretched/skewed by making all of the UVs into grids like that, especially if some of the quads for example were larger than others and so on.

When I started in year two, having the UV islands gridified seemed to then become the "not" done thing.  Now I'm seeing you suggest to do it and I'm a bit like, "gah, which way is it", "what is an industry standard" etc etc...

The further I progress the more challenges/questions I seem to end up with and that is making me feel that I don't have a solid foundation for this because everything is always so questionable.

Thanks the mention of the "clone" tool too, I'll take a look at that also.  I will give your suggestion a try and see how it goes.

I'd be interested to know if there are certain approaches for different types of models too, e.g if it was a scuplt of a head, from examples I've seen online, they are never gridified like this, they are always kinda flattened out, like the mask that gets run over in Mrs Doubtfire :)

Any info would be really appreciated, I'm keen to learn and move forwards but keep getting different advice which then makes it quite difficult to know the right approach.

Thanks again for the reply and your time - any further info is appreciated :)

Hey @Volker,

I gave your suggestion a go, in a round about way...

I cut the branches so that they were separate islands, but, gridifying those islands wasn't going well using the automated tools so I left them in their unfolded shapes, but rotated them all so that they were all pointing in the same direction.

The only part I didn't change was the trunk.

The result from this quick attempt;

I changed the projection back to UV from Triplanar as you suggested also, at which point the branches started to look better.

One thing I noted was that the text got "lighter" in the viewport when changing to UV from Triplanar.  I have no idea why.

Also, its doesn't seem to look quite so "detailed", it looks more "enlarged" or "zoomed in", might just be my imagination.  I did set the texel density with all of the islands selected in Maya and then used the Layout option to place them within the 0,1 space.

Not entirely sure of the best way to try the gridifying.  e.g. there is quite a difference between the largest end and the smallest end of the branches, so when I gridify them, isn't the resolution at either end going to be a bit different, e.g. one more detailed, one less so.

I can't see a good way to have Maya do this step, which means it would be all fairly "arbitary" when done by me by hand.