A reason Any c4d Artist should Use Substance Painter


I know, I know Substance Products are owned by Adobe now. That sucks.

Nevertheless there is one brilliant trick that Substance Painter can do beyond the obvious task of Painting materials (which of course it does brilliantly).

With SP you can make a modest poly model look virtually identical to a much denser version by baking the normals of the denser model and mapping that onto the lower poly version.

Two scenarios:
-You have a hero model that for some reason you want to use at subsurface division level 4 or even level 5…but it just gets too heavy and renders too slow with those settings. In just a couple of minutes you can make a lower poly version with the high poly version normal map applied.

-You have scanned poly data that you want to use at high fidelity w/out slowing down your scene


Can’t you just use and use materialize to make the normal map of any baked texture and simplify the mesh with Instant Meshes and then apply the normal


Bullit, Materialize (and other apps mentioned there) are for taking a texture and faking mesh attributes via displacement and/or normals.

Here I’m talking about real geo and making low poly versions fake the fidelity of higher poly versions.

Maybe I’m missing how those tools could be used in this scenario.


Materialize is to make normals, roughness, bumps etc of any texture, then you can use for displacement etc. also you can use it to make tilable materials.


Yes. Very cool. I’ve had BitMap2Material for years, but I think this looks better. Thanks for the lead. Awesome!

What we are talking about in this thread is a bit different, however…Looking not at material generation or manipulation from a photo…but rather generating a normal map from 3d mesh.


Isn’t that supposed to come from baking?


Yes, but consider the difference:

Tools like B2Bitmap, Materialize, CrazyBump…they start with an image and they then generate fake depth by looking at areas of contrast. Generally anything dark is considered as shadowed and it recesses that from the normal. Bright portions of an image are interpreted as areas to raise up from the normal. Those programs can’t understand if there are dark color blotches…it just assumes the dark areas are shadowed and should be pushed back from the normal. They are clever tricksters. Useful but limited. The source material for such programs is a flat texture.

What I’m talking with Substance Painter isn’t fake, because Substance Painter isn’t working with flat texture data. It is sending out rays on an existing 3d object to determine depth value, surface variation and precise shading.

SP allows you to run that raycasting to capture from shading data from a high fidelity version and then map that to the low poly version.


What you describe is just the typical game engine workflow: Low poly mesh; high res bake.
ZBrush’s one click retopo solution and easy uv tools for organic objects, makes this workflow a breeze.
When you’re dealing with hard surface objects, it gets a little trickier, having to introduce better UV unwrapping tools like Rizom UV.

One of my preferred technique now days, is to create a relatively high level 80-120k model, perform the unwrapping after splitting the object into several groups. Once the UV’s are set, I take it back to zbrush for extra detailing: boolean cuts, greeble, nuts and bolts etc. Typically adding 1-2 million polys in density. Then finally exporting that to substance to capture those details in the normal map.

This workflow gives you a tons of control over wear and tear and makes it really simple to create killer assets that look very heavy, but actually aren’t… It’s a great workflow for sci-fi assets. For me at least.


Yes, ZBrush is an monster and it’s not in my toolbox. I do understand it’s a great pipeline from there to Substance and on to games.

Tried it some years back, but Zbrush is a bit too much UI hassle…for me anyway.


I recommend to anyone who isn’t using ZBrush due to the UI, learn it anyway.


We all aren’t the same in objectives, abilities, time availability etc. My focus now is learning EVERYTHING about c4d. I’m far more a motion graphics guy than a sculptor.

Don’t get me wrong…In an ideal world I agree with you. It looks super.


Good info Ice.
I am surprised at how many people in the Daz user communities do not understand the advantage of using
normal maps for detail instead of hi poly/hi Sub’D geometry But then again 99.9 percent of them never render anmations.

I am using an animated .obj /MDD workflow in my current animated Fan film project.

Normal maps have enabled me to use ,very nearly, game resolution Character meshes yet have fantastic facial “detail” in the final renders as seen with this Middle aged
Soldier character.

And My MDD data files use much less HD space as they are only driving a base res mesh for the animation in C4D.

In CG it is never about what is actually happening,
only what Appears to be happening.


That face is very detailed and realistic. Nice! I will say that all the other elements in the scene seem ultra smooth/clean/glossy in comparison. It creates a bit of a mismatch.

It would look aesthetically unified if the armor and background also had more gritty detail…and perhaps less saturation in the color.


You can do this using the Bake Texture Tag in C4D. Just add the tag to your low poly model, then drag the high resolution model into the Normals source field.


Yes Kent, and I seem to recall this being done in a tutorial recently.

I guess I like it in Substance as it becomes an easy step in the texturing process.


No sure of any tutorials. But this feature was added for the first release of Sculpting, back in R14, since the sculpting system uses the same features. So being able to bake displacement and normals from a high res model to a low res one has been in C4D for a while.


Yep kbar , thanks for tell me what i wanted to say, hehe.


I really can’t sculpt that well. Zbrush is all hard surface for me. Mech parts. Sci fi scenes.
For that alone, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.


If baking normal maps and other geometry maps is your only concern, then there is good old xnormal that did a perfect job in baking normals long before there was substance painter and it’s free :wink:



Substance Painter not only bakes a normal map and AO map - which some other approaches can give you - it also generates curvature, position and thickness maps, which can be very useful for advanced material development.