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Procedural materials tutorial - Substance in Unity

August 9, 2011 in Technology | 2 min. read
Placeholder image Unity 2
Placeholder image Unity 2
Topics covered

This guide is designed to briefly explain what Substance is, how to create new substance materials from a substance material asset, apply them to a mesh and edit parameters.

What are Substance Materials?

Substance materials are procedurally generated assets, from technology developed by Allegorithmic. A 'substance'  is basically a set of maps, defining a whole material with all channels: Diffuse, Normal, Specular, Bump, etc. 3DS Max and  Maya have substance support for rendering, but now with Unity implementation we can make use of them in real-time applications.

Why use Substance materials?

There are a number of reasons to use of procedural materials:

  • Dynamically updateable in game
  • Resolution independent
  • Animation supported
  • Tiny file size
  • Really fast to create textures, especially bricks, tiles and other tileable surfaces, that are otherwise time consuming to generate from photographic source
  • Fast to duplicate and create library of unique material
  • They are cool

Where do I get Substance Materials?

The Asset Store in unity (Window > Asset Store) includes free and paid substance packages available to browse.

How do I use them?

To customise a substance material and apply in Unity follow these steps:

  • Import or create a mesh onto which you want to apply materials;
  • Make sure it is UV'd evenly, or as desired - use a checkerboard or dummy material (Currently unity cannot import subtance materials assigned in external packages)
  • Create a fairly even topology, polygons spread to rule out kinks etc.
  • Apply relevant smoothing as required

  • Check FBX import settings for the Mesh, Select  Materials Generation 'Per Material'  esp if using multiple materials per object
  • Drag object into hierarchy or viewport and save scene
  • Find Substance material asset you want to use (the square substance icons)


  • Select + to ‘Add substance from prototype’ or to create a substance material (spherical icon)
  • Name the new material

  • Apply to object by dragging directly onto the mesh in the viewport or with multi material meshes to the element (shown below)

  • Edit the parameters for your material instances;
  • Randomise seed to create variations on the patterns
  • Adjust sliders for other parameters such as colour, dirt amount, normal strength or whatever your substance has exposed in the inspector
  • Change shader if required to add reflections and other fx
  • View the results in the viewport - can be useful to create shader spheres in your scene for representative lighting


August 9, 2011 in Technology | 2 min. read
Topics covered