Art by Juan Puerta

Substance Painter: Introducing Anchor Points and References

Jeremie Noguer on July 27 2017 | Technology, Substance Painter, News, Software

This summer release introduces the concept of Anchor Points, or References, while also bringing new scripting options, new filters, and an overall performance boost.


Anchor Points are a way to expose any resource or element in the layer stack and reference it in different areas of your project for different purposes and with a different set of adjustments.
They open up a whole new set of possibilities, allowing you to effectively link layers or masks together and have a single Anchor point affect multiple aspects of your project, transforming Substance Painter into a truly non-linear experience.

Here are a few examples of how you can use Anchor Points to create more advanced effects and materials in Substance Painter 2017.2.

Paint on Substance Inputs

One very common issue with the core workflow of Substance Painter is how to use painted normal and height details to drive filters and generator to create tear and wear and various other effects.
We updated all the default generators to allow them to take advantage of the new Anchor Points. Each generator now features 2 new inputs: Micro Normal and Micro Height as well as a set of settings to control how these inputs blend with the baked information.
By adding an Anchor Point on the layer or set of layers where the details are painted, we are now able to drive the generators with these details and see the tear and wear applied and updated in real time.

Use a material’s height map as a mask

If you remember, at last year’s Substance Days we showed an early vision of what scan blending could be in Substance Painter. Anchor Points allow us to realize this vision and you can now use the height or displacement channel of a material as its own mask, making blending organic and natural materials much easier.
Substance Painter 2017.2 comes with a new Height Blend filter and a Height Blend Smart Material that can be used as a template for your own material blending.

Create complex multi-layered materials

Pushing these concepts, we can now build truly smart multi-layered materials in ways never seen in any creation software to date. This sample smart material allows you to paint damage on a spaceship hull, first adding burn marks then ripping the outer shell of the ship.
Pushing the opacity of the stroke will break through the hull and reach the inner part of the spaceship where the circuitry become visible and fire starts to break out. This can be achieved by driving multiple materials, masks and filter with a single Anchored mask.


Loading and texture-set switching times are now up to 4 times faster.
This is only the first phase in a series of performance improvements planned in the span of the next few months.


A side effect of the addition of Anchor Points is that you can now finally rename effects! Paint and Fill effects, both on masks and layers, can now be renamed to make navigating in the stack or editing an existing smart material much easier, especially if you inherited content from another artist.


The scripting API has been updated to allow Substance Painter to transmit data continuously to a 3rd party application. Our first experiment with this new feature is a Unity plugin creating a Live Link between the engine and Substance Painter, allowing you to see the results of your texturing process in-game, in real-time! You can already grab the plugin on Substance Share and soon on the Unity Asset Store.

To find out more about Anchor Points, check the Substance Painter documentation. For the full list of new content and fixes, head over to the release note.

To learn more about these new features and the future of Substance, don't miss Allegorithmic's CEO Sebastien Deguy annual keynote live at Substance Days Hollywood 2017 on Friday, July 28th at 6:30 pm PST!

Wes McDermott will also live stream an in-depth look at all the new features in Substance Painter 2017.2 on Saturday, July 29th from 9:30 am to 10:15 am PST.

As announced earlier,  this release is accessible for free to all Substance Painter 2 - Indie license holders, you will receive updates up to September 30th, 2017.

If you do not own a Substance Painter 2 license, you can either subscribe to Substance or purchase 12 months of updates for Substance Painter.

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