The tools are aimed at making more realistic special effects, gaming, and entertainment imagery. They are also targeted at wider industries that similarly require a precision realism in design, said Sebastien Deguy (the vice president of 3D and immersive at Adobe) in an interview with GamesBeat.
“Two-and-a-half years ago, my company [Allegorithmic] was acquired to do 3D and immersive design,” Deguy said. “We created this new division called 3D immersive. And the goal for this division is to provide a set of ecosystem of applications from Adobe for the 3d community, including game developers. It’s for the studios we currently serve with our software products but also the new designers who are interested in 3D.”
Adobe acquired Allegorithmic because of the potential it saw in the future of 3D technology. Since then, Adobe has been working on expanding Substance 3D.
“Creators and designers in other industries beyond the game industry are adopting these game technologies,” Deguy said. “There is a lot of room to grow. Most of the actual 3D tools are really complex and complicated to learn. Our tools are really well defined and easy to get into. We’re trying to make it more accessible.”
But Adobe isn’t making toys, either. It is targeting a new generation of designers who are just starting to use 3D in their processes. Substance 3D uses artificial intelligence to eliminate much of the technical complexity of 3D design and features the “what you see is what you get” interface artists know from Photoshop or Illustrator. And the collection isn’t just about tools — it also includes thousands of models, textures, lighting systems, and other assets designers can use to jump-start projects.
One of the main concerns of 3D artists and designers today — whether in game development, VFX, or product design — is that the design process is really fragmented. They need to jump between various tools as part of their workflows. The Adobe Substance 3D Collection was designed to connect seamlessly with Adobe Creative Cloud in order to drastically help streamline this process, allowing 3D artists to switch between Substance, Photoshop, InDesign, and more. Also, Adobe says this will help creatives curious about 3D quickly adopt and learn the tools because they are accustomed to the interface and the Creative Cloud, Deguy said.
Four tools in one
Above: Adobe’s Substance 3D can be used for 3D design.Image Credit: Adobe
Substance 3D includes four new tools and an expanded ecosystem, including an expanded library of thousands of customizable 3D assets.
Deguy said that the tool can be used in industries like architecture, fashion, food/beverage, and more. The tool can easily be integrated into design processes, regardless of experience level, he said.
One of the new tools is Stager, which can assemble 3D models, materials, and lighting in a 3D scene and produce virtual photography. It gets a big boost from machine learning, Deguy said.
The Painter, Designer, and Sampler tool can create stylized or photorealistic images in 3D.
Above: Substance 3D makes 3D design easier.Image Credit: Adobe
The third tool is Modeler, which will soon be available for private beta. Modeler connects virtual reality and desktop for a more immersive design process and organic sculpting.
And the last tool is the 3D Asset Library, an expanded library of thousands of customizable 3D assets to feed creatives’ workflow. The toolkit also provides access to Creative Cloud’s fonts library, storage, and more.
One example where the tools are useful is virtual photography. Due to the pandemic, most brands/companies had to discontinue all photo or video shoots. By generating photorealistic renderings of products, companies like Ben & Jerry’s save time and money while creating lifelike images for marketing, promotion, and other uses.
Rival solutions come from Autodesk, Unity, and Unreal. The Substance 3D tools are interoperable with a lot of the competition, though, as standards such as Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) are spreading through simulation tools such as Nvidia’s Omniverse, Deguy said.
Guido Quaroni is the director of engineering and 3D immersive at Adobe, but before that, he was at Pixar, where he was responsible for open-sourcing USD. In a panel at the 2021 GPU Technology Conference (GTC), he said the idea of USD emerged at Pixar in 2010 as the company was dealing with multiple libraries that dealt with large scenes in its movies.
“Some of the ideas in USD go back 20 years to Toy Story 2, but the idea was to formalize it and write it in a way that we could eventually open source it,” Quaroni said on my panel at GTC 2021.
Adobe is deeply embracing USD, Deguy said.
Deguy said, “We want to make sure that we connect our teams and they talk to each other. And one of the things also that will help new designers to get into our offering is the fact that we will connect normally to the Omniverse and the Unity companies of this world, but also Photoshop and Illustrator and all the Create tools. We’re at the same company, so we can connect.”