Software Index #

Here is a list of tools that can be used for material creation.

Bitmap Approximation Tools #

alchemist

Substance Alchemist #

Substance3D.com | 19.90€ per Month (Together with all Substance products)

Substance Alchemist is Adobe’s latest addition to the Substance ecosystem. It offers tools for merging several Substance Materials (SBSARs) as well as some options for PBR map approximation. It should be noted that Substance Alchemist presently (2020.2.1 ) only supports resolutions of up to 4096px.

b2m

Substance B2M #

Only on Steam | 41.99€

Adobe’s legacy tool for converting plain color bitmaps into full PBR materials. Substance B2M is primarily designed to approximate displacement, roughness, ambient occlusion and other maps from just a color map, but it also allows for scanned heightmaps to be imported, I therefore use it for delighting and to create the final normal and roughness maps.

It’s being replaced by Substance Alchemist which can do a lot more but lacks the ability to export in resolutions beyond 4096px and requires a monthly subscription.

Substance B2M can no longer be purchased directly from Adobe, but it is still available on Steam.

materialize

Materialize #

boundingboxsoftware.com | Free and Open Source

Materialize can be used as a free open source alternative to Substance B2M and Substance Alchemist. It offers a similar featureset to B2M and Alchemist while being a bit more bloated and harder to understand, but in some other areas it even exceeds its commercial competitors: the height map approximation offers more granular control than both solutions offered by Substance.

Photogrammetry #

metashape

Metashape #

agisoft.com | $179

A very powerfull photogrammetry tool. For $179 it is a reasonable middle ground between free tools such as VisualSFM which I found to be somewhat tedious to use at times and more expensive photogrammetry suites such as (Metashape PRO or RealityCapture) priced at $2000+. Note: This software used to be called ”Agisoft Photoscan”. You will find a lot of tutorials using its old name.

Baking #

xnormal

xNormal #

xNormal.net | Free

xNormal is a tool for baking normal- and displacement maps from one 3D model to another. I chose xNormal because even though its UI looks like straight out of 2005 (because it is) it has been more stable when processing extremely large scans (60+ GB or raw geometry) than any of the other (free or paid) tools I have tried. And it’s free!

Material Authoring #

designer

Substance Designer #

Substance3D.com | 19.90€ per Month (Together with all Substance products)

Substance Designer is a node-based and fully procedural material authoring software and is the industry standard for material creation.

Image Editing #

photoshop

Photoshop #

Adobe.com | 11,89€ per month (Creative Cloud)

The obvious choice for anything related to image editing. I tried using it for a while, but at that point I was already very familiar with Affinity Photo, so it never stuck with me personally and I’ve never missed it.

If you have it already, you can obviously use it.

The obvious choice for anything related to image editing. I tried using it for a while, but at that point I was already very familiar with Affinity Photo, so it never stuck with me personally and I’ve never missed it.

If you have it already, you can obviously use it.

affinity

Affinity Photo #

Serif.com | 54.99€

You don’t need to commit to a Creative Cloud subscription just to edit textures. Affinity Photo offers everything required for texture editing and can compete with Photoshop in terms of stability when it comes to opening very large images (though this can vary drastically based on the hardware setup).

krita

Krita #

Krita.org | Free and Open Source

You might be surprised to find a drawing software in this lineup. But there is a very good reason: Krita has an amazing tiled viewport. Together with the clone brush it is perfect for making textures seamless. Performance on the other hand is not always ideal, I would consider it to be the software with the worst features/ressource usage ratio in this list.

gimp

GIMP #

Gimp.org | Free and Open Source

If you don’t want to spend any money you can also use GIMP as it also handles large image files gracefully. But be aware that my workflow for photogrammetry makes use of macros which are not supported in GIMP. You will have to make a few more clicks by hand.

Panorama Stitching #

ice

Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) #

research.microsoft.com | Free

Version 2.0 of Microsoft’s panorama creation software is also a great tool for texture creation. It automatically connects overlapping photos into a (potentially huge) image file.