Oct. 22, 2020, by Paras Gupta
3D Denim is the Most Ethical, Sustainable Denim in the World
Denim manufacturers are taking this to heart. Levi Strauss & Company has, for instance, initiated a Better Cotton initiative, committing to using sustainable cotton and vastly reducing the water consumption required to grow this cotton. Similarly, H&M has partnered with the WWF to implement a water stewardship program, focused on making better use of water resources, and of building awareness of such issues more widely. Clothing manufacturers are working to transform cotton, and denim, into a more ethical material.
Yet Paras Gupta, creator of Digi Denim, decided to go a step further: he has created a 3D denim collection, that uses no water or natural resources whatsoever. Paras was kind enough to speak with us to detail his creation of the most ethical denim in the world, and his use of Substance in bringing this project to life.
So, when I started doing 3D it was a natural choice to combine my knowledge of denim with the skills of 3D. My aim was to create a real-time denim in a virtual world. When I made my first pair of digital denim jeans, I struggled to make them appear as authentic as ‘real-world’ jeans. This pushed me to seek out the appropriate tools with which I could create that perfect denim virtually – and this is how I found out about Substance. When I tried the Substance tools they imbued my pair of jeans with life. I’ve developed so many pairs of ‘real-life’ jeans, and I’ve learned that denim is all about details. The Substance tools really helped to bring out the details and smallest intricacies, which made these Digi Denims look as realistic as actual jeans. Creating washes virtually, as well as adding faded and worn-out effects, was all possible through Substance.
Denim never fails to surprise me. There’s so much to create with denim. The possibilities are endless. Every pair of denim speaks about the unique personality of its wearer, and that’s what I totally love about this fabric. I love denim as it allows me to be experimental; there’s also a lot of science behind this unique fabric. Denim, for me, is like art. As an artist, you might pour your heart and soul onto that blank canvas to create that masterpiece – and before it has been processed denim is, similarly, also a blank canvas; working with it, you are the artist who can decide upon the processes, washes, surface detailing and worn-out effects.
To curate the Digi Denim collection, the initial step was to create the material. I used Substance Alchemist to create the 3D denim material by photographing the denim fabrics that were available to me.
Original photograph of denim material
I used bitmaps to create the material in Substance Alchemist. Through Substance Alchemist I was able to create a real-time 3D material which was essentially indistinguishable from real fabric.
Final 3D developed fabric
To make the collection appear more realistic and detailed, I created alphas of all the details and areas of denim jeans, including areas such as the coin pocket, waistband, inseam, side seam, back pockets, and so on.
Coin pocket alpha (above)
Left pocket alpha
To create these alphas I used high resolution photographed images of my favorite pair of jeans. In denims the seam highlights and the texture are the keys to creating an authentic pair of 3D jeans.
Whisker Alpha Creation
Whiskers, or crease lines, are frequently added to jeans to give them a naturally aged, used look. In denims, this dry process forms an integral part of curation. These whiskers are either made manually, using abrasion or chemical methods, or created using laser tools.
To create this collection I have used the exact same laser whisker pattern which is used to create laser whiskers in ‘real life’. The file used is compatible with both laser whisker production, and the creation of whisker alphas for 3D texturing.
After this, I began creating the 3D mesh of my denim jeans using CLO. The 3D model created with this software generates a precise pattern which can be used for physical sampling.
After creation of all the assets, I imported them into Substance Painter to begin the texturing process.
The whole process included:
a) Inserting fabric material
b) Applying alphas at seams and creating details
c) Applying the laser whisker alpha
d) Creating the wash fade-out effect
e) Creating the overall wash effect
f) Inserting print artwork
Final 3D Outcome
Final 3D outcome after texturing