The Explorer Window


The Explorer window is where you manage your files and resources currently open in Substance Designer. It shows you a list of all packages currently open, with each package expanded as a hierarchy to show resources inside of it.

The Explorer is where you start and end your projects, as it lets you create, save and export any kind of resource. 

You can do a few important actions through the Explorer Window:

Toolbar Buttons

The Explorer Window has 7 toolbar buttons, to let you quickly perform functions. All buttons are context-aware, that means they activate and change function based on your selection in the Explorer.

  •  Save selected package.
  •  Save and open selected package in Substance Player. Only available if Substance Player's location has been defined through the File Menu.
  •  Publish selected element(s) - publishes any selected packages as SBSAR.
  •  Publish as previous - Publish the selected elements with the same settings as before. Re-publishes the previous packages again, while skipping the options dialog. Only available on a package that has already been published in the current session.
  •  Export to Substance Share, either as SBSAR or SBSAR + SBS. Option is only available on Packages containing a Substance graph with a valid output.
  •  Dependencies - Opens a small window inside the Explorer that lists the currently selected package's dependencies. Not to be confused with the Dependency Manager, this window only lists package dependencies and does not show paths.
  •  Information - Opens a small window inside the Explorer that gives you information on selected packages and resources, at a glance. Lists things like file paths, amount of faces, resource status and bitmap size.

Right-Click Menus

Most of your interaction with the Explorer is through context-aware right-click menus. The available options differ a lot, below the most important options are listed.

On empty space

Empty space is only available below any currently open Packages. Clicking next to existing items is not considered empty space.

The empty-space context menu is the only way to create a new, empty package, through the  New Package option. Creating packages through the New Substance... option in the File menu results in packages with a graph already inside.

On a Package

Right-clicking on a package gives you many options related to resources, saving and publishing.

  • NewImport and Link let you create and bring in new Resources. See the relevant Resources page to better understand what these options do.
  • ReloadSave and Save As let you save to disk or recall from disk a previously saved version of the package.
  • Publish SBSAR File and Publish SBSAR File as Previous let you Publish your uncompiled, unoptimized Substance Graph, into an efficient and portable SBSAR file for us in other Substance applications and Integrations. Publish as Previous repeats the previous Publish action with the same options, skipping the options dialog for faster iteration. The toolbar contains buttons with the same functionality.
  • Export MDL Module and Export MDL Module Archive options let your export MDL graphs to compiled mdl files, for use in other iRay integrations. These options are only available if a package contains an MDL graph.
  • Export to Substance Share, either as SBSAR or SBSAR + SBS. Option is only available on Packages containing a Substance graph with a valid output. The Toolbar contains a button with the same functionality.
  • Export with Dependencies is different from saving and publishing, in that it takes your SBS files, collects all referenced resources and dependencies and creates a self-contained package. The dialog lets you choose what libraries to gather, and if the file should be a compressed archive (7-zip). This is a good choice for sharing an SBS file with someone else, without worrying about missing dependencies.
  • Compute Outputs forces Substance Designer to calculate all outputs of all graphs in the package.
  • Dependency Manager opens the Dependency Manager window for the selected package.
  • Open Dependencies opens all dependenies in the Explorer (only substance graphs dependencies).

On a Substance Graph

Right-clicking on a Substance Graph within a package gives you options for organising Graphs inside a package, as well as options for viewing and exporting that graph's outputs.

  • Open - Return - Opens this graph in the Graph View.
  • Copy - Ctrl-C - Copies the current Graph to clipboard.
  • Paste - Ctrl-V - Pastes Graph from clipboard.
  • Remove - Del - Deletes Graph from this package.
  • Rename - F2 - Rename this Graph.
  • View Outputs in 3D View - Sends this Graph's outputs to the 3D View, to display as a material.
  • Compute Outputs - Computes this graph's Outputs and keeps them in memory.
  • Export Outputs as bitmaps - Open the dialog for exporting to bitmaps.
  • Explore - Opens a new Explorer View.

On an MDL Graph

Right-clicking on an MDL Graph within a package gives you options for organising MDL Graphs inside a package, as well as options for exporting and viewing it.

  • Copy - Ctrl-C - Copies the current Graph to clipboard.
  • Remove - Del - Deletes Graph from this package.
  • Rename - F2 - Rename this Graph.
  • Export Preset - Exports this MDL graph as a preset.
  • Export as .mdle... - Exports this MDL graph as an encapsulated MDL file.
  • Set as Material Definition in 3D View - Use this MDL as the material in the 3D View. Works only in iRay, but viewport will automatically switch to iRay when this option is chosen.

On a 3D Mesh

  • Open - Return - Uses this 3D Mesh in the 3D View, replacing the standard cube or plane.
  • Copy - Ctrl-C - Copies this resource to clipboard.
  • Paste - Ctrl-V - Pastes resource from clipboard.
  • Remove - Del - Deletes resource from this package.
  • Rename - F2 - Rename this resource.
  • Reload - Force reload this mesh from disk.
  • Show in Explorer - Open an explorer window on the location of the Mesh on disk.
  • Relocate - Change this Resource to be linked to another file.
  • Bake model information... - Opens the Baking dialog.