Today, we’re thrilled to introduce the first beta release of Substance 3D Modeler, a new modeling and sculpting application from the makers of Substance and Medium.

Substance 3D Modeler Beta gives you the ability to sculpt and assemble scenes on both desktop and VR, letting you switch between the two formats seamlessly as you play to the strengths of each.

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The core question at the heart of Modeler is, “What is the best way to make 3D modeling as intuitive, fun, and as gestural as possible, while remaining powerful enough for a professional workflow?” This has been our mission since the inception of Medium in 2014, and with Modeler, we are realizing our vision.
Sculpted in Medium by Samuel Poirier

Since 2014, a vibrant community of sculptors has grown around Medium, our original modeling software, whose underlying engine provided the starting point for Modeler. We are super grateful for the feedback and artistic inspiration that this community has provided over the years and are taking those lessons as we re-envision even more powerful capabilities in Modeler.

The Medium development team joined Adobe in 2019, where we fused with the team behind Substance 3D and hired additional great minds behind other well-known creation tools; this empowered us to not only reimagine our sculpting and scene assembly vision, but also gave us a new mission: to smoothly integrate with the other Substance 3D products to complete an end-to-end 3D workflow.
Using Scene Assembly features on Desktop (Left) and VR (Right) to generate repeating forms
Swap Meet by Giovanni Nakpil, sculpted in Modeler, rendered in Stager

Today, this ongoing journey has brought us to the release of Substance 3D Modeler Beta, and we would love to gather the community for feedback, discussion, and to develop and grow Modeler with all of you. Modeler Beta is a key part of the Substance ecosystem; our goal is to work hand-in-hand with the rest of the Substance ecosystem, such as Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Stager, to help you realize your creative vision.

An enormous thank you to the Substance 3D community for helping us get to this point! We cannot wait to see what you’re going to create with Modeler.

Removing the barriers between you and your art

While we envisioned Modeler’s mission, we were acutely conscious of one pain point in particular: much of 3D sculpting and scene creation today demands a significant level of technical knowledge. This can create a steep learning curve for newcomers and require even seasoned 3D artists to spend their time dealing with technical considerations or constraints instead of focusing on the pure creative process. With Modeler, we aim to keep as many of these technical considerations under the hood and out of the way, as much as possible. As an artist, you should focus as much as possible on creative expression, and not be disrupted by technical hassles. This, therefore, is the core principle at the heart of Modeler.

Walkman, sculpted in Modeler by Giovanni Nakpil, and rendered by Geoffrey Rosin in Stager

Modeler is minimalistic in its UI and intuitive by design, balancing excellent performance with power and ease of use. There are simple but powerful tools for blocking out, sculpting, and managing scenes; it has the capacity to handle nearly infinite voxel resolution with no polygon limit, topology, UV or object count concerns. Modeler’s UI and sculpt management is as uncluttered as possible, keeping out of the way so that you can focus on your art.

Below: First Snow for Grizzly by Joshua Eiten

We’re conscious that the speed and performance of an app is another potential constraint to the creative flow. That’s why Modeler is fast and handles the memory of complex scenes super efficiently. You can save or export a scene containing hundreds of millions of triangles and thousands of objects in seconds. That way, you spend less time waiting around, and more time creating.

A demo that shows the use of occlusion culling to speed up rendering of complex scenes:

As we develop Modeler towards its 1.0, we will be adding and refining its pipeline features to make interoperability with the rest of the Substance 3D collection and real-time engines as smooth as possible. Performance is not just important within the app itself, but over time we want to make it easy to bring what you create in Modeler into the rest of your professional workflow. Overall, Modeler aims to smooth out every speed bump standing between your initial idea and realizing your creative vision.

100% VR, 100% Desktop

Modeler Beta allows you to sculpt both in VR and on desktop. It’s the first ever app that empowers this hybrid approach, and we didn’t leap into its development lightly. This was our reasoning:

Our experience developing Medium, and now Modeler, has shown us this: sculpting in VR provides an incredibly immersive environment for 3D creation; You can look around freely and also use the movement of your hands, which makes interacting with your creation feel direct and tactile. You can view your creation with real-world scale without any camera distortion, which makes it easy to accurately discern your forms. Modeler’s 6-dof interactions allow you to move objects around freely, and lay down strokes in a fluid and gestural way that feels like drawing and sculpting clay in space.

Our vision of “Creation on all surfaces

That said, there’s a lot of value in sculpting on desktop too – blocking out forms can be more effective on desktop particularly laying down precise shapes and boolean operations for hard surface work. There are a bunch of use cases that favor desktop sculpting over VR, right down to hardware availability and personal preference. While our vision is rooted in the hybrid workflow between the two “surfaces”, if you do not have VR hardware, you can use desktop on its own.

Below: Artwork by Vladimir Petkovic

We created an app that allows you to do both. This not only gives you the most flexibility and power, but also provides a clean bridge to the rest of your desktop workspace. Switching between desktop and VR in Modeler is simple – you just take off or put on your VR headset. The transition from one view to another feels seamless: the UI is shared between the two views. You can switch between keyboard and mouse, tablet, or 6-dof controllers at any time depending on what fits best the task at hand.

This timelapse of Swap Meet shows organic sculpting in VR, and then switching to desktop for hard surface and detailing:

A note on headset compatibility: currently, we directly support Oculus Rift and Quest (with Link cable or Air Link tethered to a PC), but in the future, we will support a wide variety of headsets. Check out our documentation for detailed technical requirements.

A Powerful Addition to Your Pipeline

As more and more professionals embrace 3D workflows and creation, the goal of Modeler is to be one of the tools in which you start your creative process. As you translate ideas from your head and iterate on designs in Modeler, we want to make it easy for you to take existing models in your library into Modeler and then take the resulting output into the rest of your 3D workflow or pipeline as smoothly as possible.

Currently, we support common interchange formats (USD, OBJ, FBX, with more on the way) for both import and export, and let you output paint as textures with UVs or vertex colors. If you output UVs, Modeler will utilize a new automated UV generation method that we are refining, and we invite any feedback to improve its capabilities. If your downstream tool supports instances, you can preserve those instances from Modeler or you can make those instances into unique meshes. In addition to supporting easy interop with Substance 3D Painter or Substance 3D Stager, we will continue to refine the pipeline to Unreal 5 and other real-time engines as we progress towards our 1.0. Thanks to Unreal’s Nanite engine, you can export meshes from Modeler in full resolution via the USD format.

Modeler Depends on You

We are beyond psyched to be able to put Substance 3D Modeler Beta in your hands today. We are also looking forward with immense anticipation to seeing what you create it. The creations from our community are what keep us going!

We want to make Modeler the best sculpting tool, and we would be honored for you to take this journey with us. Send us your feedback, ideas and requests – tell us what you love, what you would like improved, and how it fits (or doesn’t fit yet) into your creative process. Thank you for the help. The best ways to reach the development team are on Discord and on our community forum.

Let’s build Modeler together.