Mar. 11, 2021, by Guilherme Marconi
Pattern Creation with Illustrator and Pantone in Substance Designer
Guilherme Marconi merges 2D and 3D workflows for fashion design and print
After the Meet Mat 2 contest I got my first job in the Game Industry and at this moment I work at Diorama as a 3D artist, with a focus on texture.
At the beginning of 2021, I had been studying Substance Designer for some months, and even though I was focused on learning 3D, I was missing something that I have done for 15 years. I remembered a lot of work hours in a screen print studio, as a teenager, and I started to test some concepts using Substance Designer.
The multiswitch was ready; at this moment I created a setup very simplified of masks and colors and I started some tests.
Illustrator and Substance Designer side by side:
With Illustrator and Substance Designer open side by side, I wanted to ensure that I would have the result I wanted. And, to my happiness, they were equal, the color control was perfect!
I need to say that being able to use Pantone while using Substance Designer was a very incredible experience.
In the next step, I needed to start the pattern creation, and I decided to customize the Tile Sampler to work more with the inputs, at first with 64, but it didn’t seem a healthy choice to optimize. I chose in the final version a 32 inputs version, since the normal 6 inputs were not generating the results I had in mind.
I worked with the first pattern layer using 32 inputs, it was useful as a chaotic first base, for the other layers to settle on top. It is a process that I always use in my images and I really needed to reproduce inside the Substance Designer. I need to say that sampler inputs, Scale Map/ Rotation Map/ Vector Map and Pattern Distribution Map were vital to have an “organic” result that I liked more visually; even with many tests of changes of Random Seed, the result remained pleasant to me.
I continued matching the tile always with two versions, one just with “the print colors” and one with the details, making the link for both.
The next step was adding a second layer to the pattern, where the idea was to add illustrations that I would like, in a second level of spotlight. I wanted to keep the random option of those items, and that’s why I used a title sampler with 10 inputs — a little less than the previous one but a scale factor of illustrations proportional bigger than layer 01.
Following my workflow, it was time to add the first layer of items fully controlled in the border, to create read points when the pattern is repeated. I used the object selection graph (to enable easy changes in parameters afterward), chose the objects, and used one transform node to scale the illustration and another transform node to position it. Throughout the process I was testing global Random Seed changes to verify whether the result remained pleasant. In this step, to avoid a lot of using the “Blend” nodes and an increase in lines crossing the graph, I used a node “FX-Map” with a very simple setup to receive the inputs using the Blending Mode Max, in Quadran.
The process of finishing and creating some controlled focal points was basically the same as the previous one: choosing the items and putting them in position testing multiple seeds in the process.
With the result of the pattern composition finished, it was time to begin the process of coloring the result. At this moment, the goal was to extract the masks using the node “Color to Mask,” using combinations of RGB with the options Mask and Softness = 1/ Keying Type = Chrominance, which showed the best results during the tests for both the colors and the details.
At this moment, the process was basically using the node “Blend” and using the masks obtained in the previous step to add one color over another.
To create a mask of the outlines, I basically used the FX-Map previously configured and published all the masks of colors in it.
Following the coloration part, I added two new blends in Albedo, one being “Multiply,” to add new colors differences in base, and another as “Add” for the highlights in illustrations.
When I reached this stage, I needed to add some contact shadows in superior layers. To do so, I used the node “Greyscale Conversion” as the channel A=1. This fulfilled very well the function of serving as a shadow to the layers, using the node “Transform” to move a little and simulate a contact shadow, and the “Greyscale Conversion” in a “Blend/Subtract” to clean up what I didn’t want. This process was made in “layers” 02/03 and 04.
Next, I added these masks, created to each layer in blends, in Abeldo, using the same color for all the shadows and the same value of opacity. In this moment I also inserted the last color of the process, which was the outlines.
When putting the roughness of the fabrics together in one Blend, I chose to create a control where it could define a roughness separate to the drawing outlines, to reproduce some applications very common in screen printing, where the lines have a beautiful shiny, metallic effect.
In this stage, I used a node named Advanced Normals To Roughness. Following the previous concept, I created a very simple controller, looking for the possibility of screen-printing effect I’ve previously mentioned.
In the end of the process, I used conventional outputs of Metalness workflow.
I also decided to create 02 outputs to make it easier to print the images, in case I needed to: one export that has the “Pantone” colors, with no connection to the Overlay step, and another that matches everything needed for a CMYK print.
With the SBS completed, I exported the SBSAR and decided to jump to Substance Painter and work on some concept products. It’s fun time!
I need to thank Adobe for providing the sneakers and T-shirt files for experiments.
Exploring pattern variations in Substance Painter:
Download the material for free on Adobe Substance 3D Community Assets and play with the patterns and colors!
It is so cool to know that a person with little technical knowledge can do all this with no difficulty, and I believe that the possibilities using Substance Designer and other Adobe Creative Cloud tools to create print for products are just unique.
I’m really excited to continue exploring these possibilities and other concepts!