Edward Quintero, who was a part of the Robo Recallteam, published a post on using Substance Painterfor the creation of the Epic Games’ first VR title. The challenge here was to make a VR game that doesn’t look like a VR game. Creating hiqh-quality AAA visuals for virtual reality isn’t easy as VR is about higher technical constraints. Some people can get nauseous in VR if the game isn’t running at a high frame rate, so the team had to choose the right tools.
One of these right tools was Allegorithmic’s Painter. The team chose it because of its ability to visualize the materials and textures of the assets in a PBR lighting workflow.
One of the first lessons was learning how to design effective materials for VR. Having the ability to walk around your design was a total trip that put things in a whole new perspective, so the challenge was making the characters pop in the virtual environment.
The solution was creating a variety of materials with varying specular attributes. This meant that creating a balance of what is shiny vs dull, makes a world of difference in creating a feeling of dimension in VR if done successfully. As you walk around a character for example, your eye catches the varying difference of glints and surface details that help sell realism.
Another important feature of Painter was the use of Smart Masks. These are procedural masks that give you a formulated way to create scratches, including wear and tear. I was amazed how quickly you could create a complex look without having to manually paint every surface of your 3D model.
It’s not to say that Smart Masks are a complete solution though. The masks get you a quick result, but it was up to me to manually edit to fight off a procedural look. Smart masks are a fantastic tool, but ultimately it was my responsibility to direct the results and inject personal style into the work.