Substance: Red Rock Cliff Face
Making Polycount’s Weekly Substance #8: Red Rock Cliff Face
100% Naturally organic Substance Designer goodness! This red rock cliff face has the following tweakability:
- Primary shape scale and distribution
- Editable layers of detail
- Rock layering / erosion effects
- Sand and stones that accumulate on the tops of the rock face
Rendered with Marmoset Toolbag 2
Process and Breakdown
I almost always approach my Substance Designer workflow like I would a sculpture. I start with very simple, abstract primary and secondary forms. While these forms are very deliberate, they usually aren’t much to look at when looked at in isolation. But when these layers are combined in interesting ways, together they produce something much more complex and believable. Some layers are additively combined to build up the forms and layers of detail, and some layers are subtracted in order to create new and interesting forms.
You can see in the image below how the main forms are broken down and accumulated. The isolated form layers themselves are actually VERY simple. They are merely a suggestion of particular frequency of detail.
Additive and Subtractive Approaches:
You can see from these WIP images below, how my exploration of form began.
The first pass was an additive approach created by instancing rock layer shapes. This gave me the layered I was after, however I found it hard to influence the layers by larger low frequency shapes.
As an alternative to my first pass, I tried additively combining different Parabaloid Scatters and noises in order to build up the low frequency rock face that I had imagined. This gave me all the rock surface qualities and details that I wanted, but did not include the eroded layered forms.
Toward the end of the height map creation I subtracted the eroded rock layer, which ended up yielding even more interesting, varied, and complex forms than the strictly additive workflow.
Cutting Away the Layers:
Cutting away the layers was actually quite simple. For this I imagined a bunch of angled razor blades cutting through the texture plane. I ended up using multiple blend methods and custom FX-Map to really drive the effect home, but the core of the look is created by Directionally Warping a Splattered Linear Gradient.
By crafting simple height maps that represent various frequencies of forms in isolation, I gain full control over the editing, adding, and replacing of multiple frequencies of detail. This opens up my workflow to the possibility of “happy accidents” through experimentation. If I wanted I could completely change the underlying rock forms, and get a completely new layered rock look. Or simply remove the subtracted layer effect, and have a nice rock height map.
See more on Polycount’s Substance Designer Challenge Thread: