Originally published July 31, 2020. Scroll down for news on the final release.
Adobe has released Substance Designer 2020.2, the next update to its material creation software.
The version, due to ship in September, updates the core architecture to Substance Engine 8, adds a versatile new cross-sectional node, and updates existing nodes like the tile generator.
Other changes include a new automatic system for creating thumbnails of materials and performance improvements that can reduce the time it takes to update 2D and 3D views by up to 60%.
The new features were announced yesterday during a live stream to Adobe's 3D and augmented reality tools, the recording of which is embedded above. The Substance Designer section begins at 12:39:00 AM.
A note about the version numbers
In the slides shown during the live stream, the release is described as "Substance Designer 6.2". However, since Substance Designer 6.x shipped in 2017, we assume this is a typo.
The current version is version 10.1 or 2020.1, which creates this Substance Designer 10.2 or 2020.2.
The substance engine 8 brings a new cross-section node and updates for the tile generator
Regardless of the version number, the Substance Designer version is updated to Substance Engine 8, a new version of the core architecture.
Changes include a new cross-section node (see above) that literally takes a cross-section through the procedural noise to generate output that looks more like a line graph.
Adobe described it as a versatile base on which to generate a range of custom effects ranging from particle systems to animated textures.
Substance engine 8 also brings updates to existing nodes, including the tile generator, which has new "keep ratio" and "absolute" modes to preserve the aspect ratio or dimensions of the tiles it creates.
A third new mode, Pixels, generates single-pixel tiles that can be used as inputs to Voronoi noise.
Workflow improvements include the option to set default colors for input nodes.
The change means that nodes that accept normal input can be set to a color that makes sense as a normal map, rather than using black or transparency by default.
New features: New system for generating thumbnails and dialog box for inputting entries
Other new features in Substance Designer 2020.2 include a new thumbnail generation system that automatically generates thumbnails for custom materials (see image above).
The thumbnails are rendered in a standard format using the software's PBR rendering node.
The update also adds a new input dialog box: a single dialog box for displaying inputs in the node diagram with more options than current workflows, including access to each group.
Adobe described it as "a huge time saver having multiple parameters displayed on a graph".
Performance improvements: Faster updates to 2D and 3D previews
Adobe has also changed the way the node chart is calculated when loading a new material or when editing an existing material.
The software now calculates the output of the graph and updates the 2D and 3D previews before generating the new thumbnails for the nodes, instead of waiting for all of the thumbnails before updating the preview.
The change cuts the time it takes to iterate a material with complex diagrams by "sometimes 60%".
Updated October 13, 2020: Substance Designer 2020.2 is now shipping. In addition to the features described above, the update adds new Manhattan and Chebyshev modes to the software's removal node.
In the examples in the release notes, they produce sharper-edged patterns than the existing Euclidean mode.
The gradient node has a new smoothing mode that is supposed to produce smoother color gradients than the existing "Linear" and "Flat Tangent" modes. The curve node can now output a grayscale image directly without having to connect a gradient texture.
The process of creating pads for texture tiles when baking textures has also been updated. According to Adobe, this leads to "an approximately 70% speed improvement over the entire baking time".
In addition, the integrated version of the Iray renderer has been updated to support hardware accelerated ray tracing on the new Ampere GPUs from Nvidia.
Prices and availability
Substance Designer 2020.2 is available for Windows 8+, CentOS 7.0 / Ubuntu 16.04 Linux and macOS 10.12+.
Subscriptions to all Adobe Substance tools are $ 19.90 / month, or $ 219 / year for artists and studios making less than $ 100,000 / year. and $ 99.90 / month or $ 990 / year for other users.
Perpetual Indie licenses are only available on Steam and cost $ 149.99.
Read an overview of the new features in Substance Designer 2020.2 on the Adobe blog
For a full list of new features in Substance Designer 2020.2, see the online release notes
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