Making Hybrid-Scan Materials Using Substance Designer 6

Guillaume Meyer on February 28 2017 | News, Substance Designer, Substance Source, Content

Substance Source is our physically based material library which is constantly growing with the addition of new materials. Users of Substance Source are artists and designers from several worlds.

Today, we are happy to share an overview of our scan process in the Substance Source pipeline: how we go from 8K scan maps to the high-quality tileable and tweakable materials featured in Substance Source . And, if you want to make your own scan-based materials, you'll find handy tips in this blogpost.

We’ll take you on a ride through the new Substance Designer 6 scan tools. Whether you scan just once a month or use a material creation pipeline everyday, these tools will adapt to your workflow.


First, we select high quality material samples coming from the design, architecture, and fashion industries.

Then we use a material scan device that captures 8K maps. During this step we get non-tileable Color, Normal and Opacity maps, which are automatically linked to a scan-process SBS file.


Here is a simple diagram of our template for scan processing. With Substance Designer you can create all the missing information with our bakers.

Material Crop:

When we open our custom SBS template all the scan maps are already linked in the inputs, so everything is ready to be processed. A “Normal Invert” node is always connected because our scan device outputs OpenGL normal, and we work in DirectX. The initial step is to select the best area of the scan by cropping the maps. First we input the “Image Size”. By double clicking on the maps in the “Explorer”: the image size will display in the bottom-left corner of the 2D viewport. Then we crop our maps in a square ratio, to keep the flawless part of the scan maps. By setting the “Show Crop Area” to ”False” we freeze the crop.

Material Clone Patch:

Sometimes the scan maps have some flaws, like wrinkles, dark spots, or marks. In order to get a clean texture we erase the imperfections with the “Material Clone Patch”.

This tool allow us to pick a specific area where there are defects and replace it by a clone of a clean area of the map. The “Transformation” widget helps to place the “source offset” and the “target offset”. The node will automatically create a smart mask to make an invisible and blend.

Adjusting the “Threshold” and the “Blur” gives us a fine control over the borders of the modified area in order to achieve a seamless integration. Finally we set “Show Patch Areas” to “False” to freeze the clone patch modification.

Smart Auto Tile:

The maps are square and clean. It’s time make them tile! The first thing to set is the crop area, in the 2D viewport. The objective is to find the biggest tileable area: the bigger will be the tile area, the better will be the texture, avoiding too much surface information loss. We play with the “Threshold” and “Blur” to get a seamless tiling. The default values of the “Smart Auto Tile” work well with unicolor materials.

Final Tweak:

At the end we bake some maps using “Curvature”, “Normal to Height” and “Color Match” nodes. We set “Levels” on the BaseColor, Normal, Opacity, Roughness. With the help of the 3D viewport and Iray, we can be really precise with those final tweaks. We also process the Basecolor map with several “Color Match” nodes to create the “Color Mask” output.

“With Substance Designer 6 we can process a good quality scan of a complex material, in less than 15 minutes.”

The scan processing is finished. We batch all the exposed parameters and integrate basecolor, roughness, normal variations with color masks or additional procedural masks. Our hybrid-scan Substance is ready to be uploaded on Substance Source.

With Substance Designer 6 we can process a good quality scan of a complex material, in less than 15 minutes. With the new scan tools, it’s easy to create generic scan processing templates that fit perfectly any creation pipeline.


A single scanned texture = an infinity of variations.

Selective thread color:

Pattern overlay:

Now with Substance Designer 6 you can easily process your scans, and create fully tweakable and personalized Substance materials for your projects. To learn more about the new tools of Substance Designer 6 visit the product page.

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