Substance Designer and Painter have become the industry standard for texturing most game assets. But a large area Substance Painter has always fell behind in is hand-painting textures. The style used prominently in games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and most mobile games.
Most people use either 3D Coat or Photoshop for this style. The reason no one uses Substance Painter for this is due to the way brushes function in it, which varies quite a bit from other software. Brush opacity is the main culprit.
In 3D Coat or Photoshop, when making a stroke with a brush that has opacity on it, it creates a stroke with a single continuous level of influence.
Instead of “opacity”, Substance Painter has “flow”, which controls the rate of accumulation. This means that as you paint over a single area, the color will build up over a different rate.
This makes it extremely difficult to control.
Not only will the stroke continue to get more dense as you make additional passes over a single area while trying to get the right coverage, but a brush stroke itself is actually applied in rapid individual dabs. This means that even if you make a straight line, it would be impossible to get a low level of “opacity”, because each individual dab blends itself into the last and creates a very solid stroke. On top of that, this also causes the “opacity” to be influenced by the speed of the stroke, adding yet another complication.
I have an example below.
On the left we have Substance Painter, and on the right we have Photoshop.
The brush in Substance Painter had the flow set to 50%, and the brush in Photoshop had the opacity set to 50%.
You can see that the stroke in Substance Painter is almost completely opaque. I made a second smaller stroke with the flow set to 10%, to let you see the accumulation that occurs when moving the brush back over an area that was already covered.
It’s a complete mess.
According to the official Allegorithmic suggestions site, they intend to correct this and implement actual opacity.
One user suggested this exact change, it received a large amount support, and Allegorithmic marked this as a feature they now intend to implement.
Another user suggested general improvements to the ability to hand-paint textures in this style, and that was also approved as a planned feature.
This could be included in the same change as above, or it could mean that they actually have planned a number of improvements to this workflow.
There is no listed timeline for this though, and there is no information on the exact implementation they will take or exactly what will be included.
But the fact that they are working to fix this and make the style viable in Substance Painter is huge.
With the ability to use substances, particles and smart masks, it could easily supplant 3D Coat as the best tool for hand-painting textures.