Art by Damien Bousseau

Substance Source: Creature Skins

Nicolas Paulhac on September 27 2018 | Substance Painter, Substance Designer, Substance Source, Release, Content, Game, Film/VFX

Blisters, suction pads, scales and more - this month, Substance Source showcases materials with subsurface scattering (SSS). You’ll have more than enough time to prepare for Halloween.

Today Substance Source is adding a collection of 18 new skin and organic materials dedicated to character artists.

All procedurally generated, the assets are designed with the brand new scattering map in order to make the most of Substance Painter’s SSS feature. Monsters, zombies, aliens or reptilians? Or alien reptilian zombie monsters? We can’t wait to see your creations!

Now that subsurface scattering is available in Substance Painter, our team of artists wanted to give you the chance to experiment with the feature. And so they rolled up their sleeves, and went for the weird, the disgusting, and the not-so-bad-but-definitely-disturbing. And it looks amazing.

We wanted these materials to be a toolbox from which you could pick elements as needed for your own creations.

For instance, you could mix a reptile’s skin grain with zombie pus; every .sbs graph is available for download. In the end, check out what these materials can look like inside Substance Painter:

For a little help with the new subsurface scattering in Substance Painter, scroll down.

Now, let’s take a look at the different material categories.

Alien Skins:

Following the success of Chris Hodgson’s sci-fi themed signature, we wanted to try something similar on our own, focusing on alien skins.

The hardest part for us? Getting our hands on fresh alien skin samples for reference as hiring extraterrestrials for a photo shoot isn’t so easy.

Our objective with the skin collection is to provide versatile materials. Each asset was designed with custom parameters, allowing artists to create a wide range of variations. Changing parameters that alter or add context such as molds, cracks or outgrowths on top of the skin grain will help to add context and differentiation.

This is why, on every new asset uploaded on Substance Source, we added presets in order to showcase the potential for variation of each material.

Reptile and Amphibians Skins:

Why do we focus first on reptile-like textures? Because we believe that while the scattering map overall provides an excellent ability to visualize translucent skins, these particular grains and scales offer users an especially wide range of creative possibilities.

"Fish Scales" is one of the two free materials from this release on Substance Source. Find it here.

Indeed, the granular skins of lizards can be used for a variety of projects, as the grains suit the texturing of naturalist 3D or fantasy creatures such as dragons, trolls and Cher.

As usual, modify materials to meet your needs by tweaking the custom parameters of each Substance material.

Zombie Skins:

Now let’s dive into the darkness of what putrid flesh has to offer. Here, we will be playing with blood and gore with our first selection of dead human skin and organs. We are very proud.

This was a complicated preparation - browsing images of raw human meat and dead corpses all day long for references made us want upchuck more than a couple of times.

In this selection, you’ll have access to burned, livid skins and blood, without forgetting a zombie’s favorite meal: braaaaains. Custom parameters will allow you to tweak various aspects of the materials such as under-skin irrigation level, as well as burn scar variation in size and veining.

"Zombie Crumpled Skin" is one of the two free materials from this release on Substance Source. Find it here.

A few tips about how to get the best of the materials using SSS inside Substance Painter.

Start by creating a new Substance Painter project. In the ‘texture set’ settings tab, add a new scattering channel from the list.

Then add a fill layer in your stack and make sure the scattering channel is set to 1. If you keep it set to 0, the SSS will not be activated, and thus won’t be visible.

Now access the display settings panel and activate the shadows. At maximum value (100) the shadows may seem too dark, so we suggest keeping the value around 80 to get a good result. In the same tab, scroll down and activate the subsurface scattering.

Once this is set, let’s switch to the Shader Setting Panel. Here, you’ll be able to adjust the Scale parameter. This parameter allows you to manage the range of the SSS.

The next parameter is the color of the SSS. This will define the color of the scattering so you can adjust the color to the type of material you will be working with.

In addition to Substance Painter, you may wish to review the materials to the best of their potential in Substance Designer. For this reason we created an .mdl preset that will allow you to visualize the SSS in Substance Designer with Iray (not open GL). This is free for download on Substance Share.

Well that’s all for now. We hope that these materials help you to have fun playing around in the darker side of your psyche.

Stay tuned for the next release on Substance Source.

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