Maya & Arnold – 9 Substance Plugin

Texturing with the Substance plugin in Maya and Arnold

You can use the Substance node to quickly create procedural textures using a library of organic, fabric, and material presets. Substances can also be used as noise or smart filters. Each one can be customized. Previews of the Substances that come installed with Maya can be browsed here and a library with additional Substance Materials here. Select Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager and ensure that the Substance plug-in is loaded.

To get started select Window > Material/Texture Baking Editors > Hypershade to open the Hypershade window.

Klick or MMB drag the substance node (Maya > 2D Textures > Substance) from the Create tab into the Hypershade work area (not the Substance Output node!)


With the substance node selected in the Attribute Editor,navigate to the C:Program FilesAutodeskMaya2016plug-inssubstancesubstances folder in your Maya install directory, or the folder in which your substance texture is installed.

Note: By default, the substance files are installed to your plug-inssubstancesubstances folder. However, it is recommended that you copy the textures that you need to your <MayaProject>sourceimages folder instead. This ensures that your substance files are loaded properly on all operating systems.


Enable Automatic connections in the Attribute Editor for the substance node.


Select the desired channels – usually Diffuse, Specular, Normal and /or Displacement under Texture Settings.


In the Hypershade Window click anywhere on the workspace to deselect everything and apply Graph > Rearrange Graph. Here we can see how it works: The substance node creates the different maps which are automatically wired into a Phong E material.


Let’s create a Polygon Plane of 100×100 and apply the phong material with RMB > Assign Existing Material to make it visible in the viewport.


Once you have selected the Substance Node in the Hypershade Window the Substance Parameters can be changed in the Attribute Editor. The resolution of the generated texture files can be adjusted with Absolute sizes or Relative width. The standard resolution of 512×512 is fine for fast previews, for final rendering 2048×2048 is recommended.


Now let’s connect the Substance Material to an Arnold Shader. In the Hypershade Window create a new aiStandard material. With the aiStandard material selected press RMB > Show All Attributes. Connect the output of the .png node following Diffuse_substance to Color, the .png node following Specular_substance to Ks Color and the output of substance_bump2d to Normal Camera of the aiStandard material.


By doubleclicking on the aiStandard material you can now hide unnecessary ports.


Create an Arnold Skydome light. Select the Poly Plane and apply the aiStandard material with RMB > Assign Existing Material to make it also available for Arnold.

When you successfully applied the phong E material changes of the substance Settings should instantly be visible in the viewport. Since Arnold Render by default caches texture files, changes probably won’t be updated in the IPR. To make changes of the substance settings visible also in the IPR we need to make some adjustments in the Render Settings. In the Systems tab activate > Force Scene Update ON IPR Refresh and > Force Texture Cache Flush After Render.


In the Arnold Renderer tab disable > Auto-mipmap and > Auto-tile.


After changing substance parameters the IPR should refresh.


If you want to exchange the substance, just point to a different file in the Texture Settings of the Substance node.