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Topics - dayveeman

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I haven't had much chance to play with Substance Designer 5 yet, but I noticed no batch tools for ver5 on the download page yet.

Are there plans to release batch tools for the new version anytime soon? Will the batch tools from ver4 work in the meantime.

You can bake simple shadow maps in Substance.

It does require a bit of pre-processing of your model.
Besides exporting a regular version of your model, you'll need...

An export of your model rotated to align the light direction to the Y-axis. Bake the World Space Normals, extract and adjust the levels on it's Green Channel to get the lighting (without cast shadows) from the light.

An export of the model with all its Normals pointing straight up.

From this we'll use these Height Map bake settings (use the object itself as its own high definition mesh)...

To get this height map...

Might not look like much, but every surface exposed to the light is 50% grey, every surface blocked from the light is lighter. So, invert and adjust it's levels to get...

Looks a little rough, but multiply with our lighting map and you have the light and shadows from a single directional light...

Not bad, personally I like faking bounce light by adding an inverted Green Channel from the World Space Normal map of the regular version of the export, using an AO bake as a mask.

Much better, you can also add a bit of color using a Gradient Map node.

Substance Graph...

You can only bake a directional light shadow map, no point or area lights. Also, no advance lighting features like global illumination, color bleeding, etc.

I also have yet to find a really good way to fade the shadow intensity as you get further away from the shadow casting object.

Still, very handy for quick light bakes. You can also use the shadow map as a mask to improve the accuracy of things like sun bleaching, or use it on a snow substance for example so areas blocked don't accumulate snow.

A copy of the Substance file and object exports.

I'm using the Substance Designer batch tools to automate some asset creation, and I'm getting some strange results. I've tracked it down to bitmaps being set to 8bit instead of 16bit when I use --connect-image with sbsmutator. Is there a way to set an input image to 16bit when I connect it with sbsmutator? I need my position bake file to be set to 16bit before creating the sbsar file, but manually opening every automated sbs file and setting bitmaps to 16bit isn't really feasible.

If like me you've used substance designer to bake Ambient Occlusion on a model that isn't water-tight, but instead has overlapping parts, you may have noticed that the AO bake doesn't handle overlapping geometry very well. In areas with overlapping geo the outside of the overlap bakes fine, but inside the overlap, instead of being in dark shadow it suddenly transitions brighter. This tends to cause a bright halo around the edge of overlapping parts. Here's an example from the Pod object from the Pod tutorial.

You can fix this by always building your models water-tight, or lessen it by baking AO at a higher resolution and down-sampling, or by blurring the AO. If your object has a lot of high frequency details in that area like rust or dirt, it's probably not even noticeable, but if your art style is more clean and pristine, it can be a real issue.

I've stumble upon a trick however that fixes these overlap "misses" in the AO bake. I call it the double reverse normal trick. When baking AO, you check the "Invert Normals" check-box to invert the normal, but you also load a normal map that re-inverts the normals back again. I'm not sure why (maybe it forces the geo to be double sided during the bake), but this somehow fixes the issue.

For your inverted normal map, just create an image that's a solid 128,128,0 color. That's for a plain object AO bake, if you have an actual detail normal map you want to use, invert it's blue channel instead.

This will produce an AO bake where overlap areas are now in shadow, and the bright edge halo is replaced with a contact shadow instead.

It does result in a slightly lighter more subtle AO bake, but you can always add a levels node if you need a darker more intense AO. I've gotten so I use this trick on every AO bake I do now, I also haven't noticed any perceptible increase in AO baking time (but I haven't done any accurate benchmarking).

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