Art by Don Arceta

Materialize: The Digital Material Contest

Nicolas Paulhac on October 24 2017 | Community, Substance Designer, Substance Source, News, Events

A few months ago we created Mattershots, an Instagram account that I feed every day with a selection of images of materials, colors, and manufacturing processes to inspire material lovers in their creation of textures with Substance.

We created Mattershots because we believe in cross-pollination: everyone can feed on what is done in "neighbor universes", whether you are an environment artist, surface artist, architect, CMF designer or color and trim designer. Mattershots selections come from matter-oriented content that we find inspiring, and this content, in turn, serves as a repository of readily available elements for making moodboards and other documents for the definition of style, artistic direction, or simply the creation of digital textures and materials.

Today, just 8 months after its creation, Mattershots has more than 770 images and an ever-growing community.

Now, to your workstations, material lovers! It’s time to show us your creative and technical skills by transforming images into real, living digital materials.

For this contest, the task is simple: Choose one image as a reference from Mattershots and create a material using Substance Designer.

Don’t be shy about getting on board and trying Substance Designer. With the 30-day free trial and a video tutorial designed just for this contest, you’ll be ready in no time and have all the info you need.

Image credits: Renault RS 2027 Vision Concept – 2017, Kris Provoost Hong Kong a Housing Estates via Behance, Agnieszka Doroszewicz – BMW 8, The Dalí Museum by HOK via Architizer, Elephant-Parade Office by Cun design via Architizer


1. The main reference image must be selected from one of the 750+ images on the Mattershots Instagram inspiration channel.

Because of the image resolution limitation on Instagram, if you need more information about small surface details for example, you can use additional images as references (of the same type of material) you find on the web to enrich your work.

If you use additional reference images, please include them in your submission zip.

2. You don’t have to reproduce the Mattershots scenes.

Let’s focus only on the material. No need to make 3D models or UVs, create a scene, et cetera. These elements won’t be taken into consideration during the judging phase.

However, if you want to go further in the development of your submission, we’d be happy to have a look.

3. The materials must be created in Substance Designer.

You cannot simply import bitmaps that have been created in another tool.

4. Materials must be tweakable.

With Substance Designer you have the possibility to expose parameters to tweak several attributes of the materials such as color, structure, glossiness, size, distribution, etc. Show your creativity!

5. Entry mode.

Select a material reference from a single image from Allegorithmic’s @mattershots inspiration channel on Instagram and use Substance Designer to create/reproduce the material textures. You can use an existing texture from Allegorithmic’s Substance Source PBR material library to get started but it is not a requirement.

We strongly encourage contestants to post their work in progress in our dedicated forum where the community has proven in the past to be prompt to help and give constructive feedback on submitted WIP entries!

6. You must submit your entry in ONE, and only one, of the two contest categories: General or MDL.

Categories will be judged separately with winners in each category.

7. You can submit only one entry (and in only one of the two categories).


If you’re one of those people who likes to have everything in one place, here’s the definitive list of everything you need for the contest and where to find it:

(A note about watermarks: Please use watermarks only on your original creations and not the images you choose for inspiration.)

The jury will judge the entries on the following set of criteria:

– Reference matching accuracy
– Material level of details, complexity and technical quality
– Material tweaks and exposed parameters
– Creativity within Substance Designer (node graph screenshot)


The contest will run for a month, from October 24th to November 24th at 11:59 pm (PST) You will need to submit your entries with this form.

Winners will be announced 12 days after the end of the contest, on December 6th.

Valid submissions will include at least:

  • 1 rendered image of the reference image from Mattershots + created texture (side-by-side)
  • 1 image of the created texture in Iray render mode on Plane HD (Default Geometry SD) (4096x4096)
  • The SBS or MDL graph of the entry (file)
    Want to share your work with the community? You can also post your work on Substance Share but make sure to also fill up the form if you wish that your material is considered for the contest.
  • 1 image of the full SBS or MDL graph (please provide and respect 16:9 aspect ratio. 1920x1080 minimum resolution)
  • Image of the maps (4K: 4096x4096)
  • You can upload additional renders on the submission form. All images should be provided in 4K (4096x4096). You may also include on the form the links to posts you have made of your entry on other websites, like ArtStation, Behance, Coroflot, Evermotion, Polycount, et cetera.


Don Arceta, Lead Artist – Playground Games
Marc Austin, Build Supervisor – Double Negative
Scott DeWoody, Firmwide Creative Media Manager – Gensler
Pierre Hulot, Digital Design Manager in the French luxury industry
Nicolas Paulhac, CMF Designer, Substance Source Product Manager and @Mattershots inspiration channel founder – Allegorithmic
Nicolas Wirrmann, Substance Designer Product Manager – Allegorithmic

Each jury member will select their top 5 winners.

P.S. Enter the contest with the brand-new Substance Designer Fall 2017 update!

You can enter the contest with any version of Substance Designer, but we did want to let you know that the Substance Designer Fall 2017 update (2017.2) has arrived just in time for the contest kickoff!

This new version of Substance Designer includes the following features:

– Powerful new patterns, filters and generators for creating stunning effects
– Non-square options on all nodes
– Helpful UX tweaks
– Support for AxF material authoring

You can see the dedicated blogpost here or you can follow the release walkthrough video.

See the full release note.

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