Following Victor Kam's tremendous work in Substance Designer, available at Pluralsight, I decided to work through his tutorial series to push my skills to the next level. As such, the models for this project were provided and I could spend all of my time in Substance Designer (the dream!).
Featured in this course was an entire workflow for build utilities and materials in Substance Designer that can allow artists to drop in similar assets and texture them with remarkable speed. This is done by setting up a template through which baked model information can guide the placement of materials and effects onto the model. This pivotal mesh data maps to be baked from your model are the Position (BSphere), World Space Normals, Curvature, and Ambient Occlusion. Some other work can be done outside of Substance Designer (or inside its up to you) to create custom line work to be converted into details on your normal map.
The Position Map provides you with coordinates through which you can apply directional effects, such as scratches, edge damage, or oil leaks. You can create Position Maps along different axes, to control the direction of the desired effect.
The World Space Normal maps, along with position maps, aid primarily in the process of utilizing tri-planar projection. Tri-planar projection is incredibly useful for eliminating those ugly seams from your UVW unwrap. It essentially blends your procedural textures projected onto your objects from three equilateral directions. This all but eliminates every seem!.
The Curvature and Ambient Occlusion maps work as great masking tools to create effects localized near the raised areas (Curvature), or the recessed areas (Occlusion). You can use them to apply scratches where they would logically be, near raised or exposed areas, and put dust in the recessed areas.
With Victor's guidance, this graph shows the complexity of setting up this kind of workflow. Numerous utilities were created to aid in the process of quickly texturing the models, including a utility for a quick and easy method of combining SVG maps into a Normal map and a utility for combine multiple tri-planar maps simultaneously. The later proved to be hugely advantageous when it came to setting up the basic materials for the model. With the multi-triplanar node I was able to apply numerous passes of effects and details.
As seen in the Gun Metal Graph above, the multi-triplanar utility is able to quickly and easily blend together multiple layers of scratches with a roughness pass. Spending a little bit of time to set up utilities like this one can go a long way. It's a trade off the pays off.
This graph demonstrates the power of Substance Designer pretty well. Included in this simplified graph are instances of every other graph that was created with the Master node. Connected to the master graph are inputs for the artist to create masks in the SVG node, to be able to control the placement of you effects, materials, normals, and decals, on you model. This can get pretty heavy on your computer to process, but the speed of this workflow is well worth the set up time. You can simply drop in a new mesh, plug in your baked model information (Position, World Space Normals, Curvature, etc.) into the Master node, and then create a bunch of masks for you materials and effects, and voila, presto finito!
The same graph system was used to texture both of these assets! These images illustrate how quickly you can change the look of your model with the simplified graph.
This image demonstrates how some of the effects can be exposed in the simplified graph, to allow the user to control the scale of the effects.