3D architectural rendering with Substance 3D.

Nature, in its rawest form — untouched by human hands — is unerringly beautiful. This is one of the great joys of the world we live in. Evoking that same beauty in urban spaces, however, requires a little skill. This is where the architect comes in.

rendering of an office building

At its heart, architecture is focused on the service of others through the design of the built environment. But at a day-to-day level, architects must perform this role while being pulled in a range of directions by varied, and often conflicting, practical demands — clients who modify initial concepts, concerns regarding sustainability, even garden-variety tight deadlines. All of these factors and many more can play a determining role in the final outcome of an architectural project.

Fortunately, taking a 3D-centered approach to an architectural workflow can go a long way toward satisfying many of these requirements.

Of course, quality is of paramount concern in any architectural endeavor. An architect’s work must be the best it can be, every single time. Here, 3D tools like those in the Adobe Substance 3D toolset are an ideal solution. These tools allow architects to create utterly photorealistic images. Assets created can easily be placed within a full 3D scene, to show projects in their full context.

But speed and reactivity to changing requirements are also critical needs in an architect’s work. Here too, an approach centered on 3D tools provides a range of solutions. The Substance 3D toolset gives architects the ability to create and modify assets easily and quickly, as needed. Moreover, the Substance 3D asset library provides a vast wealth of ready-to-use 3D models and materials.

As real-time 3D visualization, including virtual reality and augmented reality, increasingly becomes the go-to way to present architectural projects, Adobe is focused on providing a range of 3D tools that allow architects to boost the efficiency, flexibility, and realism of their architectural visualization projects.

Digital materials: A great leap toward improved efficiency.

Digital Materials
Ultrarealistic, fully customizable materials are vital to creating high-quality visuals. For instance, if you want to propose a marble surface to a client, it has to look and behave like marble in every way — it must be the right color and have the correct level of reflectiveness, and the patterns of veins within its surface must be accurate. Anything less, and the visual just won’t be convincing. What’s more, you have to be able to create realistic, compelling scenes quickly.

“Substance is at the heart of my material workflow.”


Fortunately, the Substance 3D toolset lets you texture your assets and scenes with parametric, modifiable materials. Using these materials is as simple as dragging and dropping them onto your assets and tweaking the sliders to obtain the precise look you need.

There are a range of sources for these materials

Create the photorealistic materials you need.

photorealistic materials

A perfect, utterly pure material simply does not exist. In reality, it is a material’s imperfections that render it credible. The truth is in the details.

The Substance 3D toolset allows you to create and apply your own realistic materials, imperfections and all. You can create materials completely from scratch with Substance 3D Designer, or you can build on data from your preferred material scanners, such as those created by Vizoo or X-Rite. You can use the material exactly as it is, or you can modify it further, changing its components, or adding completely new characteristics — in our marble example, for instance, you might choose to change the color of the marble, or add veins where none existed before.

Alternatively, you can use Substance 3D Sampler to create your own digital materials. Simply take a photo of your material sample and input the image into Sampler — the tool will convert it into a 3D material. As with Designer, you always have the capability to modify a material’s characteristics as needed.

Whichever material creation approach you use, you can create tillable materials of up to 8K resolution, and save materials with presets as required. Any image created within the Substance toolset can be exported in a range of formats, to all major 3D tools.

A treasure trove of ready-to-use 3D architectural assets.

A treasure trove of ready-to-use assets

If you prefer to draw upon existing resources, you can import 3D materials as needed, whether from third-party sources or from the Substance 3D asset library. The 3D Assets marketplace contains thousands of ready-made 3D materials — including, for instance, a huge number of different types of fully parametric wood, marble, concrete, glass, and much more — as well as a vast range of models, HDRIs, and image-based lighting (IBLs).

“The Substance 3D asset library is a great tool to use for the creation of realistic materials without the necessity to produce them from scratch. For example, the carpet of the work area was made starting from a Substance 3D asset library.”


Creating or finding the asset to meet your needs is easy, and fast, and will allow you to rapidly establish your own individual material library.

Greater efficiency equals greater creativity.

Greater efficiency equals greater creativity

The Substance 3D toolset makes it easy to create variations of your design proposals. The procedural Substance materials allow you to generate an essentially infinite matrix of materials, enabling you to experiment with mood and material possibilities as much as required — and to render each one as a high-quality image, if needed.

The net result is that you can increase your creative proposal output, in comparison to more conventional design methods, while maintaining ultra-high levels of image quality for each of these proposals.

Unparalleled presentation.

Unparalleled presentation

Another advantage of a 3D-centered architectural workflow: 3D assets can be used in a wide range of presentation formats. Possibilities include high-end image rendering, films, 360-degree immersive experiences, and virtual tours created in tools such as Unreal Engine or Unity.

Your 3D assets can fit smoothly within whichever presentation style works best for you.

Ease of use in your architecture workflow.

Ease of use in your architecture workflow

The Substance 3D toolset features easy interoperability between its various applications, as well as seamless integration into all major 3D tools, both offline and real-time. Substance 3D plugins allow you to import, edit, and visualize Substance 3D materials in directly within drawing tools such as Sketchup; in modeling tools such as Revit, 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, Cinema 4D, and Modo; in 3D rendering engines including Lumion, V-Ray, or Corona; in the Enscape VR plugin; and in major game engines, such as Unreal Engine, or Unity. Whatever your tools of choice might be, the Substance 3D toolset can fit into your workflow.

Interested in getting your architecture firm to use Substance 3D? Learn more.