Art by Cem Tezcan

Product Design: From CAD to Substance with Cem Tezcan

Pierre Bosset on August 10 2017 | Substance Designer, Substance Painter, Stories, Design

Who are you?
My name is Cem Tezcan.

Where are you based?
I live in Ankara, Turkey.

What do you do?
I work as a freelancer on both statistical business analysis consultancy and technical product design on computer graphics.

Where can we find you online?
My website is There you will also find my social media links.

Could you present yourself to the community?

I’m a technical designer who is in love with the technology of computer graphics to achieve realistic results with PBR materials. I’m experienced in modeling with CAD design software and also a hobbyist of sculpting little figures with clay.

What is your background?

I was born in Turkey. I studied statistics up to master’s degree and had an interest in computer graphics as a hobbyist for a while. I worked as a chief product designer of decorative telecommunication towers at a steel construction company for 10 years. Afterward, I resigned and started working on both statistics and design as a freelancer.

How did you discover the Allegorithmic tools?

I was curious about real-time PBR materials. I started to use Unreal Engine and while trying to figure out material integrations, I discovered the Substance usage with UE. After digging more, I realized that this is not just an integration, there are also painting and designing tools for these Substance materials.

I always wished for a software to blend materials easily as we paint them but I wasn’t aware that OpenGL display was such a realistic way to show what we paint as Substance Painter does.

After getting used to Substance Painter I dug into Substance Designer and I suddenly figured out that PBR workflow is not just about game engines or real-time view. Finally, I integrated these software tools to my workflow to enhance the visual quality of my works.

Can you describe your workflow? How did Substance integrate into it?

I create most of my models on NURBS modeling software like Rhinoceros, Solidworks, Moment of Inspiration or Fusion 360. After modeling and technical drafting is completed in these software tools, I export my models to Modo.

I create my UVs and materials and then paint these models in Substance Painter. If any specific material is needed then I use Substance Designer to create it and add it to Substance Painter’s library and use it in the painting process.

After the painting is done, I export the texture maps to Modo and render the models with OctaneRender. It has a great capability of handling PBR metallic/roughness textures.

As an industrial designer using CAD software in combination with Substance, how would you describe your workflow?

Key problem on CAD models is that the mesh topology is all messed up with triangles when I export them to my rendering software. This makes it hard to create clean UVs and topologies when the mesh has a complicated topology. So I define materials in CAD software to group main parts and then use Automated UV Atlas Projection in Modo to get the whole mesh on a UV plane.

I don’t bother much with UVs on my CAD models like considering UV continuity or UV sewing. Instead of that, I use basic projections and bake them into atlas projected UV and finally use them and paint additional material maps over them in Substance Painter.

There is a common misunderstanding about PBR painting process that we must have a clean, low poly, perfectly unwrapped mesh to paint it. It is not true. I made a video showing that complicated meshes with disordered UV’s can be painted and UV seams can easily be camouflaged by using projection brushes of Substance Painter.

Here's a video I made explaining how to Paint CAD Models with Substance Painter:

The Maruman Halley lighter project is a great example of your combination of SolidWorks, Modo, Substance Painter and OctaneRender. Could you tell us more about it?

This lighter was in our home and broken ever since I can remember. One day I decided to disassemble and model it. It was old but it had the most futuristic design I’ve ever seen on a vintage lighter from 1971.

I got my caliper and modeled part by part on SolidWorks. Followed the usual process on Modo and OctaneRender to get results. In addition, I uploaded the real-time 3d model on Sketchfab.

How did you texture the Anova Olive Oil - Still Life project?

I textured glasses with my tileable moisture material which I created on Substance Designer. All vegetation texture maps are generated by photos of leaves and flowers by using Substance B2M (Bitmap2Material) which creates amazing results in few tweaks in no time. There is a Bronze Bee and a Honeycomb in the scene which owe all their details to Substance Painter.

Tell us more about the Sony camera project and the subsequent Bubble Sheet PBR Material you created with Substance Designer to wrap it in.

The Sony camera model was the missing part of my portfolio about electronic product visualization. I modeled it with SolidWorks and painted with Substance Painter. I then rendered with OctaneRender in Modo. I recorded the whole modeling and painting process as a fast forward time lapse video which is still fun for me to watch over and over again.

When the Bubble Sheet material was completed, I tried to show its reaction to transparency with the camera. This material is one of the three different approaches I made with Substance Designer software. The other two were the “water with bubbles” and “rainy moisture” materials. I love these materials because they all have a translucent origin which I find very interesting and entertaining to work on in Substance Designer.

How did Substance change your approach to texturing?

It changed in three ways. First, to see the real-time preview of a material as you change it. Before that, I was rendering and rendering the whole scene continuously to see my tweaks on maps.

The second change is the ability to export my textures to every single software to get similar results. This ability creates stability on every different project even if I change my render engine or software.

The third effect is the parametrization and procedural approaches I acquired by using Substance Designer. I couldn’t imagine that such realistic results could be achieved by procedural algorithms. You can study a rock and can create a very similar material in a very short time procedurally. And the material you create can be randomized, tiled and animated. .

What tips for texturing would you give to the community?

I strongly suggest that every 3d artist should get the idea of PBR material standards because the industry is evolving to use the same generic PBR material standards in the future. Do not limit yourself by sticking to your favorite render engine’s material terminology and denying trending global material texturing approaches like real-time PBR materials

How do you think the industrial design market is going to evolve in the following years? What is still needed for designers to switch to real-time product visualization?

Game engines are currently starting to be used for product presentations to show both functional and visual details of a product. Materials are not ineffective parameters just to react with light and geometry as before. Today PBR materials not only react to these, they also define both geometry (tessellation) and light setup (emitter) within them with detailed maps. We can create a detailed forest ground with all details by assigning a single PBR material on a 1 polygon plane.

Sketchfab added sound to their showcase system recently. They also support product animations and annotations. Marmoset Viewer is a standalone real-time rendering software with different capabilities. Product designers only need to use the Substance software to create and export their PBR materials into these real-time interfaces I suppose. Present technology is ready and easy to use to get more detailed and realistic product presentations.

Is there an artist or designer that greatly inspires you?

There are hundreds actually. As a short list, I love the work of Hristian Ivanov Shyne and Edon Guraziu on Nurbs models. Reynante Martinez and Raphael Rau are great artists. I especially love the Substance works of Wes McDermott and Peter Sekula. And finally from my country, Volkan Kacar is a great friend and artist I follow.

Finally, you participated in the Meet MAT 3D Painting Contest. Could you present your entry?

I made a beermat character. This was really a great contest and we saw amazing ideas. A huge number of artists and students participated in the contest. It was really fun to see how people paint with Substance Painter.

Could you send us a picture of you and your workspace?

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