Substance for Architecture with Gastón Suárez Pastor

Pierre Maheut on August 23 2016 | News, Stories, Design, Architecture
Who are you?
Gastón Suárez Pastor
What do you do?
I’m a 3D artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I specialize in architectural visualization.

m a 3d artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I specialize in architectural


What is your background?
I studied architecture at the University of La Plata, Argentina.
Where can we find you online?
What is the state of archviz in Argentina and in South America in general? What future do you see? 
There are many good artists in my country but I think it is a complex market. There is good architecture and there are important firms, but when it comes to visualization, not many studios are willing or able to pay for the services of these artists. This generates uneven competition between professional artists and beginners, and in the end, the value of our work takes a direct hit. This is why most [professional archviz artists] work for the US and Europe – Europe in my case.
How did you discover Allegorithmic’s Substance software? 
I have known about Allegorithmic’s software for quite a while. I’m always on the forums and browsing dedicated pages. Also, I’m a hardcore gamer and a huge nerd, so I like to know how games are made. In that respect, Allegorithmic is all over the place. With all the hype there is around archviz in Unreal Engine, I came to rediscover the software (and understand it) and integrate it into my pipeline to seamlessly work between real-time and passive rendering.
You use the Corona renderer. Tell us more about your workflow between Substance and Corona. How do you get great results going from one to the other? 
I have read (among other sources) the PBR guide you guys have published and tried to understand the principles and workflow as deeply as I can. I stick to that and things run pretty smoothly. I always need to tweak glossiness and specular maps but it works pretty awesomely well right out of the box. I get the results I’m looking for way faster than if I were to create my materials inside 3DS Max, besides the required tweaks. I think the guys at Render Legion are changing the way glossiness works in Corona 1.5, so I hope the update is for good. I would really like it if Corona, Vray, et cetera got rid of the specular/glossiness model and embraced metallic/roughless. That would be so great.
“I cannot think of texturing without Substance software anymore.”
Tell us more about the project you posted on the Allegorithmic forums. Can you describe your workflow on this project? 
The scene was rendered with Corona Renderer 1.4 on 3DS Max 2017. Assets were created with ZBrush and most important textures were created with Substance Painter and Substance Designer. This is a personal project for exploring new techniques – kind of a sandbox – mainly for the purpose of fully integrating Allegorithmic products to my pipeline/workflow. As far of the completion of this project is concerned, it was a success. I cannot think of texturing without Substance software anymore. Here is a close-up of the flowers. I created them with ZBrush, unwrapped with UV Master and then painted in Substance Painter:
Here are the models, UV layouts and the maps from Substance Painter, as well as one of the models in Substance Painter:
Here is a screen capture of the Painter layer stack for the metal structure and a render done with Corona. (I came up with that material in no more than an hour.)
Layer stack for metal structure (rendered in Corona)
The entire metal structure was created completely in Substance Painter and needed no tweaks with Corona.
Metal structure in Substance Painter
Metal structure rendered in Corona
Trying to do that the traditional way in 3DS Max would have taken me hours, even a day or so of tweaking, blending, and editing textures, and it wouldn’t have turned out so well.
On top of that, I can have a very specific material for every piece of geometry. All of them will be different but at the same time alike: you can see the metal structure as an element made of one single type of material, but every single pice in that model is unique because of the accumulated dirt, scratches, edge wear, and all of the great effects that Substance Painter puts at your fingertips mostly by the push of a button. That is amazing. Doing it the traditional way is a pain.
This image features materials created in Substance Designer and painted with Substance Painter:
The floors were done with Substance Designer. Again, these are super-simple materials (my first ones), but I insist on the face that I was able to achieve these results with almost zero knowledge of the software, which I think is really cool.
Kitchen floor materials created in Substance Designer (with graphs)
This one is a great example of what I said in the forum about recreating very low-res textures from the only original reference we could find. For the floor, it was a small sample in its original size: 205x205. Thanks to Substance Designer, we ended up with a beautiful 4K texture with a lot of details and all of its maps. Just wonderful.
This was going to be the tiles for the kitchen and then we decided to go with brand-new metro tiles, but I kind of liked this material. I exposed some parameters to make it newer and and more detoriated. I’ll surely use it somewhere else.
From reference material sample (205x205) to 4K texture
Finally, I can show you two super simple assets, which are the table and kitchen island. These are very simple assets, but one thing I realized with them is something I have already mentioned about consistency and uniqueness. All the wood should look the same, but unique in the way they wear and are used. Smart materials are so great.
This was pretty much what I did with this project. It was a seamless and painless implementation to my pipeline. It is super-easy to pick up and is a true miracle worker. Once you texture with Substance and see the results, you won’t be able to think of texturing in any other way. Besides, I now have a solid texturing hub for my real time and passive rendering workflow. If I do a project with Corona and then I have to make it interactive with Unreal Engine 4, the most important thing to achieve is consistency: the results must look the same. This way, that issue is solved.
“It was a seamless and painless implementation in my pipeline.”
Do you know of other examples of Substance usage in the archviz community? 
Most people in archviz don’t know about the Substance software, and when they do, they believe it’s just for games. However, I truly believe that this is going to change soon because Allegorithmic is starting to be known among archviz artists. Every day I see artists posting work here and there using Substance Designer and Substance Painter. SOA Academy, an archviz school, is planning a master class featuring Substance Designer. Ronen Bekerman, who runs an archviz blog, is also interested in this software. Both of these references are very important in our field.
The other reason I believe that Substance for archviz is imminent on a wider scale is realtime archviz (Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5). If you’re close to anything related to games, sooner or later you’ll meet Substance and you will love it.
Do you have some cool tips and tricks you want to share with the community? 
I’m a newcomer to Substance, so pretty much everyone knows a lot more than I do! In talking to archviz guys using Substance, though, I did learn a really cool trick from one of your streams (the one about creating wood in Designer) with the pixel processor node. In archviz we are always creating tile patterns so it is very important that the surface details don’t continue from one tile to another, and this one does it beautifully. I recommend you watch the video.
In your opinion, what is the future of archviz in architecture? 
I think (or at least I hope) that PBR will become a standard at some point and realtime archviz will take a bigger role not only for animation or walkthroughs but for rendering still images as well. If you see the work of Koola or UE4Arch, among many others, their quality is amazing and there are some shots where you won’t be able to tell the difference between Unreal Engine and a passive renderer. Working in real time is such a great thing.
What are your future projects?
I’m actually beginning a new sandbox archviz project where the main goal is to fully texture the scene within Substance Designer and render both in Corona and Unreal Engine 4 to compare the quality.  I’m also setting up a store where assets compatible with Corona/Vray and Unreal Engine, with complete texture sets and LODs, will be available. There will also be a section with free stuff.
Finally, I’m currently working on several commissioned projects from clients in Norway, Finland and Sweden with a great number of open environments and nature. I am putting a lot of Substance into them.
What do you do besides 3D archviz? 
I like gaming, and I also like photography, so I enjoy going out with my camera to take pictures and scan nice trees, rocks, and ground to have in 3D. Astrophotography is something that I like a lot, too. As you can see, I am a huge nerd, as I mentioned before 🙂
Is there a local architecture, design or even game/VFX 3D artist that inspires you? 
In architecture I really love the work of Thiago Lima from Brazil.
One last question – can you show us a picture of your workspace? 
Here it is!