How We Used Substance Source with Cinema 4D and Corona Renderer
Who are you?
BC – I’m Benoît Campo from Paris Picture Club (PPC).
GM – I’m Guillaume Meyer, I am currently a 3D generalist at Allegorithmic and also specialize in Cinema 4D.
What do you do?
BC – I’m a 3D illustrator working on architecture and interior design projects. I also do digital manufacturing as a cabinet-maker.
GM – I’m a graphic designer from Paris. I experiment with different media such as 3D, photography and illustration to tell stories.
Where can we find your work?
What is your background?
BC – I’m part of the second generation of French architectural renderers. At PPC we’ve been taught by the first generation of renderers like Labtop and Luxigon.
GM – I studied Graphic Design at the ÉCAL and the Rhode Island School of Design. I also worked for Surface To Air, Swiss Typefaces and DOSIM.
Benoît, you’ve been working with materials and client expectations for a long time. Is texturing a tricky part of archviz projects?
BC – There are two types of expectations, which are variable from architecture to interior design. In architecture, clients often ask me to render the idea of a material. In the case of a concrete building, I’m free to choose any type of concrete that would look good on the model. So the texturing part is less complicated. In interior design, on the other hand, clients always bring material samples. They want me to render the exact materials they brought. It’s really tricky because, at the end, they often compare my renders with their samples, to see if the materials are the same. So the texturing workflow is harder in interior design projects.
Benoît, are you planning to change some part of your workflow?
BC – I work on Cinema 4D to produce my archviz projects. I’ve used V-Ray for Cinema 4D for a long time, but I’m starting to implement Corona more and more in my workflow. I’ve worked with Corona for 6 months because it’s simpler than V-Ray. I feel that this renderer has been made by 3D illustrators for 3D illustrators. I’m also interested in Substance Designer, in the future, to produce realtime projects, and I’m already using it to create specific materials for interior design.
Guillaume, how did you discover Allegorithmic’s Substance software?
GM – I discovered Allegorithmic’s software when Naughty Dog released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I was really impressed by the quality and the variety of textures in the game. By watching some tutorial videos about Substance Designer and Substance Painter, I started to realise the potential of those tools. At the time, I was looking to fill some empty parts of my workflow, to get accurate results during renders. From the on I started implementing Substance tools in my workflow.
Tell us more about your workflow between Substance and Corona. How do you manage to get great results going from one to the other?
GM – For this project I used Corona for Cinema 4D, which now uses the PBR workflow. By using the new PBR material you get a smooth Substance to Corona pipeline. I was able to translate Metallic/Roughness to Specular/Glossiness maps with the “BaseColor/Metallic/Roughness Converter” node in Designer. By targeting this Converter node into Corona mode, I got the output maps I needed inside Corona to get accurate results between the two softwares without tweaking the maps.
Tell us more about the project you posted on the Allegorithmic forum. Can you describe your workflow on this project?
GM – Originally, the Chalet was modeled and textures by Benoît in Cinema 4D. My mission was to bring Substance into the project while respecting the artistic direction of Benoît. To achieve this mission, Allegorithmic gave me access to Substance Source - Architecture Selection. I was able to choose from this library of Substances to match the textures chosen in the original model. Then the project was lighted and rendered in Corona with Benoît's help.
The Chalet had originally more than 250 textures. It was a matter of organization to retexture it and keep the same mood. For this purpose I selected 110 Substances from Substance Source. Here is an example of a draft I designed to organize my selection of Substances. I pinned all the different materials I needed with the Substances I had from the Architecture Selection.
Then, the Substances were ready to plug and play inside Cinema 4D. I was able to change their look with the exposed parameters. I could easily match details and subtleties I wanted by tweaking sliders within Cinema 4D.
Here is how I played with the exposed parameters of a Substance Archive (.sbsar) inside Cinema 4D to match my needs.
Some of the materials picked by Benoît were very particular, and didn’t exist in Substance Source - Architecture Selection. Instead of creating those materials from scratch, I modified existing materials from Substance Source. I just created a simple graph to blend materials together, or modified a height map. By exploring the graphs of in this selection of materials, I discovered useful tricks and tips. I could learn Substance Designer from the best.
“By exploring the graphs of the library, I discovered useful tricks and tips. I could learn Substance Designer from the best.”
Here’s how I tweaked a Wood Substance from Substance Source to make an old parquet:
With all the materials and ready to use customizations of the Substance Source – Architecture Selection, I imagined lots of other possibilities for the Chalet. Benoît wanted the Chalet to be a vintage and warm place, but it could have been a modern and artistic place too.
This is how I used Substance Designer and Substance Source for Architecture in my pipeline. It was really easy to achieve those renders. I just plugged the Substances inside Cinema 4D and start to render with Corona. I had to create more than 250 textures to render the Chalet. If I tried to do that in a traditional way with Cinema 4D and Photoshop, it would have taken me months. For this project I’ve used 15% of Substance Source – Architecture Selection, so I can imagine that pretty much any type of architectural project could be created with it: from a rococo interior to a modern airport.
Did Benoît wanted to change some aspect of your work before the final renders?
GM – Yes, Benoît came to Allegorithmic for three days to finalize the project with me. He helped me light the Chalet with different moods. We also tweaked some materials in Substance Designer to get better results.
For example, we made an easy tweak on the fabrics to amplify the weaving during the render.
Then we had to re-import the modified Substances in Cinema 4D. Jumping from a software to another can be annoying and time consuming, but it wasn’t, thanks to the native integration of Substance Engine in Cinema 4D R18. With the “Reload Substances” button, all the modified Substances update and replug automatically with the same parameters.
Do you have some cool tips and tricks you want to share with the community?
If some users would rather use Bump maps instead of Normal maps in their workflow for any reason. This is how they can export a Bump map from Substance Designer.
By blending (Mode: Min (Darken): Opacity: 1) a Curvature map (from a normal map) and a height map together you will obtain a good Bump map.
Another tip is about the navigation in graphs inside Substance Designer. I’ve seen a lot of laptop users working with a trackpad frustrated about the in-graph navigation. Here are some alternative shortcuts that might be helpful.
What are your future projects?
GM – I’m looking to experiment with Substance Designer and animation. Substance Designer is an open door to the procedural animation of textures, and should be a “must have” for motion design studios and indies.
I want to create a serie of keyable Substances that generate automated flows, animated graphics, and motion patterns. It should be a good start, maybe beginning of a great adventure with Substance Designer.
What do you do besides 3D?
GM – When I’m not working I take time to rest my eyes and meet people. It’s important to find a balance nowadays, between the time you spend in front of a screen and the other activities. So I take my bike around the city: go play squash, have a drink with friends, listen to music, and discover new spots…
Is there a 3D artist that inspires you a lot?
GM – I recently discovered an art director from Los Angeles named Albert Omoss. He’s a CG Artist using Houdini with 3D scanned assets. I love his acid aesthetic and funny animations. You can find his work here: www.omoss.io
Note: Guillaume refers to the graphs in the .sbs files from the Substance Source – Architecture Selection. These files are available when you purchase a site license to Substance Source. Get more information about how Substance pricing.