Substance in Maya: Rendering the future

Wes McDermott on July 18 2019 | Technology, Integrations, Maya

We have amazing news for Maya users and Substance artists. The Substance in Maya plugin has been completely rewritten from the ground up. Today we are excited to reveal a new, improved and seriously upgraded plugin. This new plugin supports Maya/Maya LT 2018 and 2019.

For legacy versions of Maya, download the plugin here.

A Completely New Plugin

Starting from scratch, the team has completely re-organized Substance in Maya to ensure an optimized codebase. Legacy scenes can be upgraded to the new architecture and we’ve added support for embedded presets along with full preset management.

Both the CPU and GPU engines have been updated with improved stability, features and performance. The GPU engine now supports resolutions up to 8K and the CPU engine now supports resolutions up to 4K.

An improved Cache Outputs to Disk lets you set the cache file type for LDR (Low Dynamic Range) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) file types; cached outputs are baked to disk and automatically read back into the shader network via a Maya file node. There’s also new support for floating point outputs using EXR.

New Substance Engine Workflow

With Substance Designer 2019.1, we added support for numeric value outputs in Substance materials. This data can be used directly with Maya nodes and materials to drive inputs with numerical value rather than a texture. Value outputs are perfect for driving inputs such as IOR.

And speaking of refraction, check out this rendering of glass bottles:

The textures in this scene are all derived from Substance materials using our new Substance in Maya plugin. The scene is rendered using Redshift and the glass Substance material has value outputs driving the RedShift material’s IOR, dispersion and absorption scale settings.

In order to set this up, you first need to create a glass material in Substance Designer that uses the new Value Processor and Value Input nodes:

Once the sbsar file has been published, you can import this new Substance material in Maya and connect the value outputs directly to the inputs on the Redshift material.

Adjust the Refraction/Transmission and Sub-Subsurface parameters created in the Substance material to create the desired glass material. The Redshift material instantly updates with the value data.

We can’t wait to have your feedback on this new and improved workflow for Substance materials in Maya!

Improved Substance Files Management

We’ve added a lot of features designed to make your life easier when using Substance files in Maya. First, you can now batch import Substance files into Maya, as well as simply drag and drop Substance files into the Hypershade. You can also batch bake Substance outputs to disk.

We’ve added a new Substance shelf with common commands for working with Substance files. You can, for instance, load the content browser straight from the Substance shelf and access 22 materials we have included with the plugin from Substance Source. You can also access the plugin settings, upgrade legacy Substance nodes, batch outputs etc.

More Seamless Integration

All in all, the entire Substance in Maya integration is designed to be a lot more proficient and easy to use. For instance, you can now quickly find and select nodes thanks to the newly designed Outputs section for creating Substance material outputs. Substance outputs now display relevant information such as usage and format.

The preset system is new, user friendly, and will let you work with, create, and manage Substance material presets. Also, from the newly organized Substance node, you can view your Substance Graph info and attributes set within Substance Designer.

If you need to build custom tools that utilize Substance materials, then Substance in Maya has you covered. An exposed API allows Substance commands to be used in scripts for creating and managing Substance materials.

Easier Rendering

With the new render workflow system, there is now a one-click solution for creating a full shading network that is compatible with a wide range of popular rendering software such as Arnold, Vray Next, Renderman, Redshift and Maxwell. And if you prefer to create your own custom workflow - no worries, you can do that, too. Any Maya nodes or 3rd-party render nodes you create downstream of the Substance node will be saved in a custom workflow.

Furthermore, we’ve improved support for using Maya’s procedural sampling. You can now control the sampling size of the plugin’s procedural texture input from Maya such as Brownian, Noise, Fractal, etc.

Substance in Maya is now more solid, performance-driven, extensive, and should prove to be a useful tool in your workflow. Download the Substance plugin for Maya right here:

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