3D view

The 3D View allows you to visualize your materials, directly applied onto the mesh you are texturing, with the shader of your choice.

You can choose between 2 renderers and switch between them whenever you want: in real time with OpenGL, or in Ray Tracing with Iray (since Substance Designer 5.3).


Visualize a mesh


  1. To display a mesh in the 3D View, you should first create a mesh resource in the Explorer. To do so, just drag&drop a mesh file on the package in the Explorer.

  2. Double-click on the resource to display it in the 3D View.

You can also directly drag and drop your mesh into the 3D view, but note that it won't be referred by your current project.


Visualize outputs in the 3D view


  1. Right click on an empty area in the Graph.
  2. Select "View output in 3D view..."
  3. (If there is more than one material on the mesh) choose the material to assign

The output will be then displayed on the mesh, and it will be refreshed in real time when you update your graph.





 By default the camera mode is selected, but if it's not the case, you can go back to the camera mode by clicking the camera  icon.

Manipulating the camera

Here is the list of the different controls for the camera(All movements are relative to the 3D model rendered in the 3D View.):

  • Rotate: Left Mouse Button.
  • Pan: Middle Mouse Button.
  • Zoom In/Out:  Mouse Wheel.

Multi-touch trackpad users can use the same key together with a two-finger slide movement over the track-pad.

If the light  is currently active, the camera controls are activated by holding the Alt Key.

You can set the camera to a specific via the camera menu:


The 3D View includes a simple light that can be use useful to check your material  under different lighting conditions.

When you are using a physically based material, it is often recommended to deactivate the lights (direct and ambient), as they can create unexpected lighting situation with the lighting generated by the environment map.

In order to deactivate it go the the scene/edit menu and set the colors to the light and ambient to black.

Manipulating the light

When the camera mode is active , you can temporary access the Light controls by holding the shift key.

or you can switch directly to light controls by clicking on the  icon

In both cases, the controls are the following (once again, they are relatives to the object):

  • Rotate: (shift+) left click button.
  • Distance from the object : (Shift + ) Mouse wheel button.

You can reset the light to its default position by clicking the Reset Lights command in the Scene menu.

You can preview the lights by checking "Lights" in the Display menu.


You can (horizontally) rotate the background around the 3D mesh by holding crtl+Shift+Right-click and dragging the mouse.

Display the environment map

To display the background, go to Environment/edit menu, and set the Display Component to "True"


3D View menus


One of the major feature of the Scene menu is to let you choose the primitive to display in the viewport:

As you can see in the image above, it's possible to add your  own primitives to Substance Designer, by placing your 3D mesh to this folder (to adapt depending of where you installed the software):

"C:\Program Files\Allegorithmic\Substance Designer\resources\view3d\shapes"

Here is the list of the other options of the Scene menu:

Edit: opens the settings to activate of deactivate the current object visibility.

Display UVs in 2d View: does exactly what the name suggests

Create 3D Resource from current Scene...: Introduced in Substance Designer 2017.1 this let you save the state of your 3D viewport in a resource saved with your package. here is how it works:

Set the viewport the way you want:

Click on Create 3D Resource from current Scene... and fill the opening menu (click on the 3 dots to select where to save the resource):

The resource is added to you package:

You can now get back to this viewport state by double clicking on the resource.



This menu gives you access to the different materials (shaders) options:

The Default Sub menu is where you want to go to tweak or change the current material:

Edit: gives you access to the current material settings:

Definition: let the user specifies which kind of material to use, with the options to load new ones or reload them:

Channels: select which channel should be active for the current material.

Each material can get its own shader.

You can either use one of the provided shader, or load a custom one.

Substance Designer can import GLSL description XML (.glslfx) format.

Each shader has  properties that accessible via the  Materials/Edit menu from the Shader menu.

The shader properties appear in the Properties pane; the example below shows the first few settings for the default  "Metallic Roughness" shader:


NoteChanging the shader’s properties only affects the shader’s output in the 3D View. It has no effect on the Substance itself.
Tessellation shader: this shader is available only for Windows version, and depends on your card. It will be greyed if your card cannot handle it.

Add a new material 

The 3D View allows you to assign a different substance to each  material of your mesh. 

By default, the Materials menu displays the original materials of the mesh.

You can create a new material by clicking on "Add" in the Materials menu: 


Gives access to the Lights settings by pressing "Edit"

From this menu, you can activate/deactivate and tweak the values of:

  • The ambient light
  • The point light 1
  • The point light 2

These lights has been implemented before the rise of physically based rendering. As with PBR, the scene is supposed to be lit by the environment, activating these additional light(s) is not necessary, and may give odd results, if not perfectly controlled.


The Edit selected button gives you access to the camera and post effects settings.

Camera settings

For post effect settings, please refer to this page (to be added)


Lets you access some environment settings by clicking the Edit... option:

As shown in the following image, Iray mode gets more options compared to OpenGL mode.

All these options are available in Iray mode.

The options highlighted in pink, are the only ones available for OpenGL:

OpenGL/Iray shared parameters

Is Visible

Enable/Disable the Environment map visibility in the 3D viewport.


Defines the exposure 


Defines the (horizontal) rotation for the environment map (also accessible via ctrl+shift+right click shortcut)

Iray parameters

Dome type

Define the shape of the dome:

Sphere Infinite sphere: The environment map is projected on a sphere. You can define the radius of the sphere, while an infinite sphere is virtually always around the scene.

Ground and Sphere with ground: the bottom of the sphere is flattened to simulate a ground. like the previous modes, ground is virtually always around the scene, while you can set the radius of Sphere with ground.

Box with ground: the environment map is projected on a cube. You set the width and height of the cube.

Dome settings

When possible, let's the user set the size of the dome:

Radius: works with Sphere and Sphere with Ground

Width, height and depth: works with Box with ground


Activate/deactivate  the ground. In practice, the ground is used to receive the shadow generated by the object, helping giving more credibility to you render:


Defines the position of the ground. Most of the time, you will only use the second slider to tweak the position on the vertical axis, in order to make sure the ground fits with the base of your object.


Defines the way the ground is supposed to reflect the light.

The reflectivity not only defines the amount of light that is reflected, but also if the reflected light is tinted by the ground once reflected.

Let's some reflectivity examples (with glossiness at 0.5)

The glossiness defines how the amount of light is reflected: the lower the value, and the more scattered the reflected rays are, and the higher the value, the more the reflection will look like a mirror.

Let's check this with a pure white reflectivity value:

Remember that between the 2 examples above, the amount of reflected light is the same: it's just the way they are reflected which is different. Life is awesome!

Shadow intensity

Defines the intensity of the shadow (1 by default).

Decreasing this value will make the shadow less visible

Texture scale

(Works with Sphere with ground) defines the scale of the environment texture at the ground level.


These options allows to show/hide some 3D scene elements


Bounding box:



Please note that the lights have to be activated in the Lights menu, to be visible



You can switch between 2 renderers in real-time: OpenGL and iRay (since SD 5.3) by going in the Renderer menu.

More options are available in Iray mode:

The Edit button is only available in Iray mode and gives access to the following options:

Min Samples: defines the minimum amount of projected ray samples

Max Samples: defines the maximum amount of samples. Iray will try to reach this number with the defined max time (the next parameter), and will stop the rendering process if it manages to reach it.

Max Time (seconds): defines the maximum time Iray will use for the rendering process. The rendering will be stopped when the time is reached, even if the Max Samples is not reached.

Caustic effects: enable/disable caustics in the rendering process.

Note that caustic effects are caused by refraction of the light through an object: if your asset is fully opaque, you can leave this parameter to False, as it will slow down the processing time for nothing.

Take a look at the rendering time: it has been doubled just by activating caustics: use this feature when needed 

Firefly Filter Enabled

When enabled, removes/diminish the presence of some unwanted dots called "Fireflies in the rendering process:


The Scene Browser


The Scene Browser allows you to assign materials to your mesh ID.


Click on the  button at the bottom left of the 3D view to display the Scene Browser.



You can change the material used for each material ID by clicking on the Material field.


Scene options


This menu allows you to edit the scene properties, including the lights, background color and panorama image.


The Reset option sets the 3D View to its initial state (default object, light/camera position, default material).


You can drag&drop a panorama HDR map in the 3D view from the package explorer.