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New, templated, and faster than ever: Unity material workflows in ArtEngine 2021.10

August 24, 2021 in Technology | 8 min. read
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The latest ArtEngine release comes with many long-awaited features, plus a reduction to the standard annual license pricing, now just $19.00/month. In this blog, we unpack all of the updated tools – including templates, Feature Selector, and new approaches for exporting materials to Unity.

Try ArtEngine for free. Then share your experience with the tool on the ArtEngine Forum or Discord.

Unity Direct Link: A new way to edit your materials in ArtEngine

Getting materials into Unity isn’t always straightforward. Each Unity render pipeline requires its own custom map packing for optimal results, which can be daunting and difficult to execute. That’s why we’ve added new capabilities to the output node, aiming to automate the conversion of regular materials into native Unity ones.

One option that ArtEngine now offers involves outputting shareable native content to Unity .unitypackage materials. The other more powerful option centers on the Unity Direct Link feature, which allows you to output materials directly into your Unity projects and modify them in ArtEngine as desired – with the changes updating live in Unity as they occur.

Native to ArtEngine, the Unity Direct Link supports all Unity render pipelines, including the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), Universal Render Pipeline (URP), and Standard Render Pipeline.

You can access the Unity Direct Link from the output node in ArtEngine. To use it, go to the Properties window and select Unity Direct Link as the export method. Choose your target pipeline and shader, then point the Output Path to your Unity project folder. Whenever you execute the output node, ArtEngine creates the material asset in that folder.

We’ve prepared a short video to showcase the power of Unity Direct Link. Watch below for an overview of this feature:

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Exporting material packages to Unity render pipelines

We’ve added a new way to export materials from ArtEngine as Unity asset packages. This means you no longer need to install a separate Unity plug-in to access this functionality; it works seamlessly across all render pipelines, from HDRP and URP to the Built-in Render Pipeline.

Asset packages are a great way to share your materials with other artists, or even between different Unity projects. The export functionality is available in ArtEngine’s output and batch output nodes. To use it, select Unity Package as the export type.

Even more, you can leverage batch processing in ArtEngine Pro to quickly convert an entire library of materials into asset packages in Unity, all in a matter of minutes. Here’s a short demonstration from our artists:

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ArtEngine templates: Shareable, single-click solutions for material authoring

Our August release of ArtEngine goes further to unlock the power of existing nodes and workflows, so you can create with ease. The built-in templates enable you to structure your workflows, no matter how simple or complex, and then save them as a template to reuse or share with others. This saves you hours of work and learning time to rapidly reach the outcomes you want.

ArtEngine’s selection of built-in templates are prepared by our team of expert artists for use in just about any project. These templates represent a range of common material processing workflows, and are an efficient way to kick-start or speed up your workflow. 

You can find all available templates in the Templates window, next to the Node Library. Each template has a name and description, so you can easily organize and locate them as needed. To use a template, simply drag and drop it onto your Node Graph.

Templates are convenient for saving parts of your Node Graph as reusable snippets that can be integrated into any other ArtEngine project. Templates can also be shared between various users. With this feature, you can attain your ideal results from complex node pipelines – without having to build them from scratch.

To create your own template, choose several nodes in your graph, right-click them, then select Create Node Graph Template. You’ll be able to give your new template a name and description as well. See the Using Templates page on the ArtEngine manual for more details.

Our artists have also prepared a short video on best practices for template creation:

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Feature Selector: Harness the power of AI-assisted masking tools

The new Feature Selector node makes the process of masking smoother than ever before. You no longer need to meticulously paint masks by hand. Instead, use Feature Selector to break up an image into partial chunks, then choose the ones that you want for your project, and output them as a complete mask within seconds.

With the new AI-assisted mode in Feature Selector, you can automatically split up textures into individual region selections with the help of a few primitive mask inputs. This removes the need for creating selections manually. While these masks don’t need to be precise, they can be used to guide the algorithm toward different parts of the image.

Let’s look at the Feature Selector and its new AI Assist functionality in this short video tutorial:

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Feature Selector produces remarkable results when used alongside other nodes, such as Mutation. It makes retouching existing materials much easier, and gives you a lot more control over the image elements retained in the Mutation result.

In the video below, one of our artists demonstrates the capability of pairing Feature Selector and Mutation to remove leaves from a PBR terrain material. By changing just a few Feature Selector parameters, they rapidly iterate over the area of the leaves that they removed:

For more information on this node, see the Feature Selector manual.

New ArtEngine pricing

ArtEngine: Now just $19 per month

What's included:

  • 30-day free trial
  • Templates
  • Email support
  • Unlimited materials and projects

At Unity, we believe the world is a better place with more creators in it. Over the past year, we have worked hard to bring more features and value to everyone, starting with a low barrier entry to our tools. Try our templated version of ArtEngine for faster material authoring today.

ArtEngine Pro: $95 per month

What's included:

  • Everything in the ArtEngine standalone product
  • Full offline functionality
  • Batching

Enjoy much more value for the same ArtEngine Pro price. Creators can work completely offline, with the ability to manage hundreds of materials at once.

ArtEngine Studio: $333 per month

What's included:

  • Everything in ArtEngine Pro
  • Command-line interface
  • Multisite use
  • Outsource partner use
  • Dedicated support
  • One Learn Live Session per quarter

Get ArtEngine for your entire studio, and we’ll work together to create a custom script for your team that plugs right into your pipeline – without the minimum seat requirement.

 

We can’t wait to see what you create!

Try ArtEngine for free today.

August 24, 2021 in Technology | 8 min. read
Topics covered