Few things delight us more than spotting the work of an artist who uses the Substance software in wholly unexpected ways – somebody who stretches the capabilities of the Substance toolset far beyond what even we’d considered possible. Discovering artwork like that thrills us.

This, then, is the subject of each year’s Substance 3D Designer Insanity Awards. It is a collection of artwork that is fiendishly creative – artwork that’s just insane – specifically created using our Designer software. Here, we’re overjoyed to present entries #10 to #4 on our shortlist. And check in on Wednesday for the Insanity Awards winner and runners-up!
10. Mordor – Louise Melin

10: Mordor – Louise Melin

In late 2020/early 2021, Louise Melin spent five months working on a material exploration inspired by The Lord of the Rings, dividing each material collection by region. Each part of Louise’s collection was outstanding; in terms of our Insanity Awards, the work that stood out was her take on Mordor – she used Designer to bring Sauron’s fortress of Barad-Dûr to terrifying life.

Louise provided a helpful breakdown explaining the methods behind her work. Also, take a look at our own article on Louise’s material exploration of Joseon-era Korea.

9. Thing of Deep – Johnny M

9: Thing of the Deep – Johnny M

Is it a texture? A creature? A ball of wriggling squid bits? The human mind is surely not meant to consider such Lovecraftian horrors too deeply. Johnny M is a material artist and instructor at the Think Tank Training Center; with this writhing mass of tentacles he filled us all with gruesome glee.


8. BBQ Material - Abderrezak Bouhedda

8: BBQ Material – Abderrezak Bouhedda

In a year in which we had fewer barbecues and picnics than we might have liked, how better to celebrate great times around good food with the fully procedural barbecue material created by Material Artist Abderrezak Bouhedda? Best of all: 3D sausages are healthier and more ethical than the regular meaty kind.

7. Magick Potion Material – Alexey HRDesign

7: Magick Potion Material – Alexey HRDesign

Alexey HRDesign brought a touch of magic and mystery to our Insanity Awards with his Magick Potion material. The possibilities here are elegant and hugely creative; Alexey even wrote an article for 80.lv detailing how he accomplished such a feat.

6. Lab Incubator – Khayyam Naghiyev and Kelly Recco

6: Lab Incubator – Khayyam Naghiyev and Kelly Recco

What do you get when two awesome material artists put their brains together? A range of procedurally-generated lab-grown sea creatures housed in a superscience chamber of horrors, apparently. Khayyam Naghiyev and Kelly Recco teamed up for this astounding artwork; the result was wonderfully chilling.


4 (Joint): Procedural Door – Maxence Hardenne

4 (Joint): Procedural Door – Maxence Hardenne

Maxence Hardenne is a prop and environment artist; for his Procedural Door project he states that he wanted to recreate in Substance 3D Designer a door that he’d encountered on his travels in Valencia. In doing this, he achieved a breathtaking level of detail and precision.

4 (Joint): Synthwave Material – Lee Borrer

4 (Joint): Synthwave Material – Lee Borrer

Environmental Artist Lee Borrer created a car in Designer, and sent it riding along a retro electro road. Outstanding. Lee’s work earns a well-deserved joint-fourth position on our Insanity Awards shortlist.


Coming up on Wednesday 26 January: the Insanity Awards Winners’ Podium!