Aztec Texture in Substance Designer

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Yonathân Padot breaks down his stylized Aztec material competely designed in Substance Designer

About the Artist:

Hello everyone! My name is Yonathân Padot, I am 21 years old and I live in France, in the small town of Nîmes. 

Passionate about video games and 3D art since the age of 15, I am currently studying in the last year of 3D real-time graphics at the Créajeux School, therefore looking for a job as an Environment artist for the next year.

You can see all of my works on Artstation  or on Instagram.

References

For this work, I wanted above all to learn and deepen my knowledge on how to make stylized textures in Substance Designer. 

Being a big fan of the Blizzard universe, I started by looking on Artstation and Pinterest for a texture that I wanted to reproduce in order to use as many nodes as possible in Substance.

Workflow

As for an environment, I start by breaking down everything,  like the image below with the main elements that I will need to create the texture.

So I start by creating the different elements that make up my texture.

Texture Center

For the central circle of the design, I started with a simple “Shape” node, followed by a bevel to give a little volume as well as a curve to create this slight extrude which separates the circle in 2.

Then continued by creating the points which will come to stick to the circle. 

To do this, I started with a “triangle” shape, * hey yes we will use the shape a lot on this hehe texture 😉 * followed by a bevel. 

Small feature here, I wanted my tip of my triangle to be flat I created a mask. 

I then merge it all with a height blend, so that all my triangles are at the same level.

I then wanted to stylize these triangles a little to give them a little more depth, and of importance. 

To do this, I got the blend that we saw above, which I then bevel, then reblended on itself by testing the fusion modes until we get a cool shape. 

Then I continued with the 2 extrudes which sort of triangle. 

I first created a square, with a hole in the center using a mask. Then I merge

I then used a mask to prune it a bit, then I used the previous method to give it more volume. 

And I followed the method for all the other shapes that compensate for the texture. I then blend with different height blends to give the texture a different level.

Adding additional Detail:

For the majority of details and to give a little sculpt effect to the texture. So I used several “slope blur” which I combined with a “Crystal”, “Creased” or “cloud” noise like this:

This allowed me to add some damage, and a slight sculpt effect on mainly all the edges of the texture. Note that you have to play with the “Mode” parameters until you get a satisfactory result.

Masking

Once all this done, I tackle the creation of masks which I will use later for the color for example, or to add details and not on others … etc. 

So I go back a little bit to get my different shapes and where I placed them and I create different Mask. We get something like this: 

Note that for a texture like this I only need 3 materials, (Gold, central slab, blue brick), I therefore end up with 3 main masks for each of the materials, plus additional masks that will come s ‘add to my existing masks for some details.

Note that for a texture like this I only need 3 materials, (Gold, central slab, blue brick), I therefore end up with 3 main masks for each of the materials, plus additional masks that will come s ‘add to my existing masks for some details.

Color

Here we attack the most interesting part, the color “Yeeahh”! For the color, I am therefore using parts of my different masks to create in the previous part.

I then gave color to the different part of the texture, with different Gradiant Maps, which will come to give a color according to the gray level of my elements. 

Then, I used a multitude of blends, to create a color base for the texture, like this: 

As you can see, I already have some highlight information. 

So to give a rather stylized effect, getting as close as possible to hand paint, I absolutely needed to define the Edge which would be Highlighted on the texture, as well as to define the darker part (Notch … etc) I So I created a Curvature from the Height Maps beforehand. As following :

For curvature, I therefore used a “Higpass Greayscal” Followed by different edges detects which allow me to highlight, the Convex and Concave parts of my texture, Followed by a Gradient map to give them the desired color.

The color step doesn’t stop there! Indeed, I found that it lacked a lot of volume. So I got the Curvature, which I blended with my color base.

To get something like this:

I then used the same process but using the Occlusion environment this time to add even more volume!

Once the color added to the texture, I tackled the PBR side, and therefore the roughness / Metallic of the texture. 

Nothing complicated here, I just reuse my different masks, play with levels, to give them the desired result, coupled with the different noise that I used during the color phase to add some light reflection details:

The textures being finished, here are the different maps that we get. Once the texture is finished:

In Conclusion:

This texture was really nice to create in Substance Designer. 

This material allowed me to learn more about Substance and the creation of non-tillable textures. Also the use of the different nodes made available to us such as bevel, curve, as well as higpasss, which are very useful for creating stylized textures. 

This texture also allowed me to strengthen my workflow, in order to obtain a result that comes closest to the current professional standard in terms of stylized rendering. 

In addition I would like to thank, the excellent tutorials from Daniel Thiger which are significant for a quick learning and understanding on the use of Designer. I would also like to thank « Créajeux, the school of video game professions », where I am currently studying, as well as my various teachers who allow me to better understand the expectations of professionals, and guide me through training in order to develop myself as well as to reach a professional level. 

Finally, a big thank you to Thomas Smith of Stylized Station for giving me the opportunity to write this breakdown article and share it with you. 

If you have any questions, need more details on certain points, I remain available, and will be happy to answer you. 

Final Result:

Hoping this article has more for you, 

Best Regard, 

Yonathân PADOT.

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