Art by Maria Panfilova

Substance Painter Gets Faster With Larger Assets, UX Upgrades & Export Improvements

Jeremie Noguer on November 19 2018 | Technology, Substance Painter, News, Software, Release

The Substance team has spent the last few months slaying all obstacles in its path in order to improve the core experience in Substance Painter. Now that the flames have cooled, we can present you with the spoils of battle: viewport upgrades, new UI helpers, an enhanced symmetry tool, proper 2D view export and a huge boost in performance.

It must be known: this battle could not have been won without the guild of beta testers and their amazing and just feedback. This update is truly user-friendly and we owe it all to them.

Sparse Virtual Textures

You needed to load heavy scenes: we made it happen. This means up to 300 UV tiles with no hiccup!

We continue on our path to full UV tile support and this release includes a completely rewritten memory and texture management system. This means lower recommended specs and the ability to load an enormous amount of data in the tool. And if you don’t plan to work with large assets you can still enjoy the noticeable leap forward in performance!

We will come back to the technical details behind this implementation of Sparse Virtual Textures in a future dedicated blog post. In the mean time, you can check the documentation.

Note: The switch to Sparse Textures has led to changes in the shader API (Texture Samplers are now Sparse Samplers). Legacy shaders should still work fine; if you experience flickering in your project, however, you can update your shader either through the Resource Updater plugin for a shader shipped with Substance Painter, or refer to the documentation to update your custom shader.

Symmetry and Layer Stack Improvements

Enhanced Symmetry tool

A longstanding request, you can now freely move the symmetry axis using a 3D manipulator or through the new symmetry panel. Several other improvements include the display of the symmetry plane as an intersection with the mesh or a preview of your brush’s symmetrical clone. Expect further updates to the symmetry tool in future releases too!

Layer Stack UI and UX

Another common request has been to have ways to easily differentiate parts of your layer stack. A new color swatch in the layer’s contextual menu now allows the addition of color accents to folders and layers.

Another small update allows you to activate or deactivate multiple layers at once by clicking and dragging vertically through your stack. Finally, get a better access to your blending modes: just scroll through them using the keyboard arrows or the mouse wheel, just as you might do in Photoshop.

Viewport Improvements

New Temporal Anti-aliasing

This new anti-aliasing method ensures smooth edges at all times and should make working on intricate geometry much easier on the eye. Temporal anti-aliasing will also smooth out dithering caused by subsurface scattering or transparency shaders. This will allow you to use the Alpha-mask shader to preview clean, smooth, artifact-free transparency.


Textures now use a set of mipmaps to avoid any moiré or flickering effect when zooming away from noisy surfaces:

New Anisotropic Shader

Ever wanted to display nicely shaded hair, satin or brushed metals? The new anisotropic shader allows just that, with the help of the Anisotropy Level and Anisotropy Angle channels. And for a simpler workflow, anisotropy is also supported in Iray without any additional setup. (There's also quite a bit of anisotropic content in this update; read on!)

Updated Clearcoat Shader

Starting today, complicated car paints or fancy varnished woods are achievable: the new clear coat shader adds local control over the coating thickness and roughness, an IOR setting, and brings Iray parity with a new MDL shader automatically applied when the clearcoat shader is selected.


2D Viewport Export

You can now export what you see in the 2D viewport as a single high-resolution texture. A common request from those of you working on mobile games, this new feature will allow you to export the result of the PBR lighting and reflections, all baked into a single diffuse texture.


Dithering has been added on export to avoid banding and other artifacts when exporting in an 8-bit format. Especially useful to fix some normal map quality issues on smooth surfaces.

New Content

Texturing.XYZ Seamless Face Scan

For this release we pushed our partnership with Texturing.XYZ one step further to bring you a fully seamless face scan material. Use this ultra-detailed 8k material to project skin details such as pores, wrinkles or moles. The scan includes color, height, specular level and roughness channels.

Courtesy of

Anisotropic Gradient Patterns

New patterns have been added, which can be used to paint on the Anisotropy Angle channel and help create various commonly encountered anisotropic patterns.

Updated Baked Lighting Filter

This new version of the Baked Lighting filter interprets the environment map in a much more accurate way, closely reflecting the results of a PBR shader. It can also take into account painted details on the normal and height channels without any manual steps and, finally, the environment map can be rotated horizontally and vertically.

Try Substance Painter Now

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