Artstation Challenge: Ancient Civilizations Were Already Using Substance!

Pierre Bosset on June 16 2017 | Community, News, Game, Film/VFX

We have been following the Ancient Civilizations: Lost & Found Artstation Challenge up close and we were amazed by the number and quality of entries. As the winners and honorable mentions were announced, we couldn’t resist sharing with you the ones who used Substance and asked the artists for a small testimonial. Enjoy!

1st - Rodrigo Gonçalves with Blacksmith
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
São Paulo, Brazil

The great thing about Substance Painter is that I can focus more time on doing art and explore ideas quickly in real-time while painting, and it fits very well in the workflow I use today for texturing.

I used Substance Painter bakers to extract all the necessary information from my high poly, and start painting. I started with basic materials or used some materials that can be found at Substance Share to get started and change its settings to fit my needs.

After, I export all the maps from Substance Painter, continue some enhancement texturing and manage the final output textures maps with Photoshop. From there I setup the shader in real-time and see what needs to be improved. If needed, I do some tweaks inside Substance Painter like adding some dirt, wearing, stitches, tweak Roughness, Metalness adding or removing details on Normal map and so on, and export again the maps, until I refine the textures enough to get the results I want/need for the real-time shader.

3rd - Valerio Carbone with Wild Shaman
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
Rome, Italy

My texturing process starts with baking in Substance Painter. For complex models, the “Match by name” is a life saver, you just need to pay attention when renaming files and the result will be perfect.

After that, I export the maps and composite them in Photoshop. My goal is to tint shadows and highlights based on their material in order to give them a nice stylized look with interesting gradients right away.

When the quick bases are done in Photoshop, I import them back in Substance Painter and start to lay out materials.

Going for a stylized look I tend to use very simple material setups. I’ll create a single fill layer for each material, set it's roughness and metallic values and add the Base_Color map from PS.

After that, I’ll create more Fill Layers with generators applied to them for cavity and peaks, and to better control and improve the overall look I’ll use empty layers where I’ll manually paint color variations, highlights, and shadows.

Even if this step requires a bit more time and “hand painting”, it’s necessary for the stylization and will definitely make a difference in the final look.

2nd - Mahabir Singh with The monk
Category: Film/VFX Character Art (rendered)
Bangalore, India

When I chose this concept, I knew this was the one I was going to make for the challenge. It was a very inspiring and challenging concept which I knew would be fun to do.

I've been using Substance Painter for more than 1 year now and it has changed the way I work dramatically. I did all of my texturing and baking in Substance Painter for The monk project. Before Substance Painter, I had to go back and forth when I was doing the test renders. But thanks to Substance Painter's PBR shaders, now I don't have to check my test renders in external renderers. The final result is almost the same as it was in Substance Painter's viewport. It saved lots of time and effort.

1st - Floyd Billingy
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
Bromley, United Kingdom

With this piece, I was trying to tackle an already well-composed concept and make it my own. I was trying to make something large and breathtaking in scale but conservative in time-frame. It needed to be eye catching yet achievable. The goal was to create a scene that lent on some of the well-established aspects of the concept and push it in different directions for individuality. I wanted to make it grand and imposing yet weathered and lost.

These things were hard to make work but with the help of Substance Painter I was able to develop a theme and style using some trim sheets and rolled out this weathering treatment to everything in the scene. I could be more confident once I had nailed the workflow knowing that the Substance Painter files would only need a tweak here and there to make them work for different meshes. The comfort of knowing these things will just work is quite liberating and allowed me to focus on composition, effects and additional storytelling elements.

Honorable Mention - Marat Latypov
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
Moscow, Russia

Honorable Mention - Tommy Gunardi Teguh with Lamp Seller
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
Melbourne, Australia

An embodiment of broken pride, The Lamp Seller brought light and magic to the tribe of Hares through mysterious means. Based on a concept by Carlyn Lim.

Substance Painter saved me a lot of time thanks to being able to stamp Normal Map details with ease. It gave me the edge I needed to control fine surface details during texturing for a flexible, non-destructive workflow. A huge plus when executing a clean stylized look!

Honorable Mention - Stian Sundby with Spysassins
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
Tønsberg, Norway

I was originally planning to make my own concept for this challenge, but I couldn't resist using this awesome concept by Carlyn lim. Substance Painter gave me a really quick and fun way to create interesting looking textures with relatively simple colors, to achieve the look I wanted to. It's only the second time I've used Substance Painter, and it's been an enjoyable learning process for sure.

Honorable Mention - Mercurial Forge with High Priestess
Category: Game Character Art (real-time)
San Francisco, United States of America

Honorable Mention - Sandeep VS with The Preserver of Life
Category Film/VFX Character Art (rendered)
Stockholm, Sweden

This character was sculpted in Zbrush and textured using Substance Painter. The non-destructive workflow in Substance Painter helped me to add details to the skin texture progressively and later tweak them easily. Also while doing look dev in Maya, reexporting the tweaked textures on the fly from Substance Painter was very efficient.

Honorable Mention - Thuan Nguyen Minh Duong with
Category: Film/VFX Character Art (rendered)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The character in my submission is a samurai, with the traditional design of the Heian period, and color pattern from the structures of the same era. Substance Designer helped me to bake and preview maps that I needed, while Substance Painter helped me to create further details on the armors and face, not to mention most of the texturing of the armor.

Honorable Mention - Jamir Blanco
Category: Film/VFX Matte Painting
San Francisco, United States of America

2nd - Alexandra Peer
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Idea of using matryoshkas bothered me for quite some time, they became the starting point and involved Russian architecture that I decided to combine with cozy streets of Morocco, and It all turned into a frozen moment of ancient cataclysm.

I always liked the game Alice: Madness Returns with all its beauty and craziness, it was the main source of inspiration and madness for this entry.

I spent a lot of time playing with block out and approaching deadline came as a surprise, so I had to catch up the missing content, and that's where the Substance toolset came in handy.

I still had a lot of ideas and not much time left, some props were under big question mark, like jugs and lanterns, little details that should bring life to the scene, but due to the fact that these kinds of things are easily made in Substance Painter, those details made it to the final entry.

Likewise, matryoshkas were made at the last moment, the center of the madness of my scene. I postponed them until the final week and luckily was able to quickly texture them in Substance Painter.

Some tileable textures were made in Substance Painter as well (wood and tiles for the roof), I did a quick base in 3d to get the basic volume, then used generators and my favorite tool - brushes. Almost the same workflow for the pavement and sand, but this time I used Substance Designer to modify the bake.

3rd - Desmond Man with Atlantis
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
London, United Kingdom

During the production of this challenge, my biggest obstacle was the environment's scale and time frame. Substance Painter and Substance Designer have proven to be an overwhelmingly helpful addition to my workflow for high-quality results and time efficiency. Substance Designer is the pillar to my entire tiling/decal texture workflow, it made generating very detailed procedural texture maps very quick and easy.

The single most rewarding thing about having Substance Designer in my pipeline is that, in comparison to more dated workflows, I don't get attached to my textures after spending obsessive amounts of time refining small areas by painting things out. Because of the nature of Substance Designer, it's easy to make decisions like discarding a material that isn't working thus skipping the entire stage of self-compromising and allows me to either start fresh or recycling parts from the failed material that actually worked for the new one. It's so adaptable it blows my mind every time.

I used Substance Painter for the entire project and on every asset. It has also opened different ways of application in my pipeline; for example, in this project, I used Substance Painter to help me paint masks to visualize how my tiling textures would look once applied to my incredibly oversized 3D assets on the main tower structures in Unreal Engine 4. Also, Substance Painter has cut out a very time-consuming part of asset creation, the high-poly stage. Although a high-poly is still very necessary when you're dealing with a comfortable time frame, it can almost always be skipped when you're dealing with tight deadlines.

Substance Painter has essentially allowed me to create high-quality assets with the use of customized normals on a finalized low-poly object along with manually drawn/stamped height details freeing up a huge amount of time.

Substance was the single reason I was able to knock out such a large scale detailed environment in such a small amount of time.

Honorable Mention - Karen Stanley
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
Malmö, Sweden

The tentacles have been made by first creating a singular modular tiling mesh. A simple base mesh was made in Maya, then taken into Zbrush for sculpting medium to large detail, then finally textured and baked in Substance Painter.

The mesh is then duplicated and tapered along a spline in Maya to create the final model. By using a modular mesh I can keep a nice high resolution in the texture and use the spline to create multiple variations quickly.

All the building pieces are made with simple geometry that is uv'd to a tileable set of materials made in Substance Designer. For the foliage, a simple base mesh for the leaves was created in Maya, then sculpted and laid out in ZBrush before being baked down to a plane and textured using Substance Designer.

This project was made over the course of a month or two for the Ancient Civilisations challenge. The original concept was made by Alex Feliksovich from Russia, with the final render being real time in Unreal Engine 4. The goal of this project was to be as efficient as possible during the asset creation stage as I was also moving to a new country at the same time! I used many re-usable textures created in Substance Designer for the buildings and then with a few small parameters changed, use the same graph to auto texture any other stone assets as well. This meant I could reach a minimal viable product fast and concentrate on the more difficult things like lighting and foliage.

Honorable Mention - Jon Arellano
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
San Diego, United States of America

Creating the ancient civilization piece was an excellent opportunity to design many different elements and put them all together into one scene. I wanted to create a mood that captured the theme and highlight a specific area of this world that can tell a story all on its own.

I used Substance in all my texturing processes, from baking and texturing a single asset to generating tileables within Substance Painter by using all the procedurals it offers. Substance allows for such a simple workflow with many tools that give any artist the freedom to create anything.

One workflow I used a lot was to create height maps inside Substance Painter, then use map converters inside Substance Designer to create Curve and AO maps. Doing this helped generate all the maps needed to utilize the tools Substance Painter offers without needing to create a high poly mesh for a lot of objects.

Honorable Mention - Timothy Dries
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
Cambridge, United Kingdom

I made this environment taking a lot of inspiration from the original concept by Victoriya Anda and Asian culture and architecture. This concept pulled me in because I am in love with the look of Asian architecture and the abandoned feel that this had going for it.

This environment is running in real-time using Unreal Engine 4. Taking this from concept to a full game environment was a challenge for sure, but Substance Painter and Substance Designer helped me to get materials in quickly and make iterations as easy as possible.

I love how both of the programs are meant to be played with and how they let you explore your own creativity.

Honorable Mention - Yeghor Gallagher with Atrium of Demigods
Category: Game Environment/Level Art
Lu, Ukraine

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