Creating Substance Designer Tools with Bruno Afonseca

In his recently-released series “Creating Substance Designer Tools“, Bruno Afonseca shows viewers how to use complex nodes and functions in Substance Designer to build tools from scratch. These tools can be used to speed up one’s workflow, and they can be distributed to other artists. He also shows learners how to incorporate Substance Player in their pipelines.

We interviewed Bruno to find out when his own learning journey with Substance Designer began, and we also discovered what he finds most inspiring about the tool today!

Watch Creating Substance Designer Tools

Bruno AfonsecaBruno Afonseca is a VFX Artist with more than a decade of experience in the games industry, across multiple studios in North and South America, shipping games in multiple platforms from mobile to VR to AAA. He is currently working at Tuatara VFX in Vancouver, Canada on exciting upcoming projects. When not at the office, Bruno can be found capturing VFX references outdoors.

Behind the series

Back in 2013 while working as an environment artist, I came across this program called Substance Designer 3.5 and decided to give it a shot. Even though it was much simpler back then, I saw a lot of potential in it. I incorporated it into my workflow, making tools to speed up some parts of the texturing process, and to keep things consistent – which is quite empowering. I’ve also shared a few of those tools online, and they’ve been downloaded 50,000 times so far. I’ve received a lot of feedback, requests, and questions, so I saw there was a lot of interest in them.

As I transitioned into doing VFX full-time, I brought all these tools along and made some more. Substance Designer is mainly seen as an environment art tool, but the ability to quickly make noises, patterns, and shapes is great for VFX work as well.

Most memorable learning experience?

I had quite a few memorable learning experiences, and all of them were while collaborating with really smart people from different disciplines, trying to solve problems together. Being exposed to other perspectives expanded what I thought possible, and taught me how to create art assets that work and perform better.

What do you enjoy most about working in VFX for games?

For me, the most enjoyable part of VFX is being able to experiment and develop different techniques to solve difficult problems. Sometimes, even mundane elements of a game can be very challenging. Being able to come up with an elegant solution to those is really satisfying. I also really enjoy spending time outdoors with a camera capturing references!

1 sentence of advice?

Keep an open mind, look at art outside of the entertainment industry. Use references (and capture your own too), build positive and meaningful relationships, and take good care of yourself.

See Bruno’s other recently-released series, “Creating Real-Time VFX in Unreal Using Substance Designer“, on ArtStation Learning. You can also visit his ArtStation portfolio here.

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