Art by Hannu Koskinen

Substance Painter: Lightning Fast Bakers!

Cédric Marchessoux on August 17 2019 | Technology, Substance Painter

Baking is an integral part of texturing, and because we want to give artists the best creative tools, the team completely revamped the Substance Painter bakers. They are now significantly faster than before, showing massive improvement across the board.



One question remains: what will you do with all this time?

The team (Valeria Gerontopoulos, Alice Girard Segaud, and Cedric Marchessoux) decided to get into the details of Substance Painter’s bakers improvement, and see just how much time artists would gain with the Substance Painter Summer 2019 release.

How We Organized The Tests


Scenario 1:

Baking a low poly mesh and a high poly mesh

The team used a low poly mesh (with 10 734 polygons & 21 342 triangles) and a high poly mesh (with 1 406 657 polygons & 2 784 010 triangles).

With this dataset, we decided to compare the baking time between SP 2019.1 and SP 2019.2 for 3 maps: Normal, Ambient Occlusion, and Thickness.

As variables, we chose the output resolution range with 64 secondary rays.

Scenario 2:

Baking one mesh

The team used a high poly mesh with 3 819 560 polygons. This dataset was the basis to compare the baking time between SP 2019.1 and SP 2019.2 for 2 maps: Ambient Occlusion, and Thickness.

As variables, we settled on three parameters: the output resolution range, the secondary rays range, and Anti-Aliasing.

The Results:



CPU Improvement



This test compares results for the 1st scenario on a GPU AMD RX Vega, and analyses the difference in processing time between CPU before the bakers improvement and after. The results vary between 11% and 74% faster. On average, the impact is significant.



After testing with basic setup, we decided to see what would be the improvement with RayTracing. And the difference became staggering.

OptiX improvement



We first tested the 1st scenario on a NVIDIA GTX 1650, then the 2nd scenario on a NVIDIA RTX 2080. In both cases, we compared CPU before the latest Substance Painter release and GPU with the new bakers acceleration.

On the GTX 1650, baking time goes from 9% to 65% faster - which represents a significant gain of time - but that is even more noticeable when equipped with a RTX 2080, as the baking time is 95% to 98% faster!



DXR (RTX) improvement - Scenario 1



Here, we used the 1st scenario in both cases. First, we observed the improvement on a NVIDIA RTX 2060, where the gain of time was from 16% to 92% faster. Then, we performed the same test with a NVIDIA RTX 2080. In that was, baking was 8% to 90% faster. In both instances, the average improvement was significant.



DXR (RTX) improvement - Scenario 2



This last test is the most impressive. Based on the 2nd scenario, we used - again - first the NVIDIA RTX 2060, with a massive improvement in baking speed - from 97% to 99% faster!

Then, we repeated the experience with the NVIDIA RTX 2080, and the baking speed went from 96% to 98% faster.



Conclusion



The major impact of the Substance Painter Summer release benefits users having RTX cards with GPU acceleration. Nevertheless, all artists, no matter what their OS or hardware is, can notice a significant difference in baking times - a minimum of twice faster!

For CPU baking, the process is on average twice faster.

With a GPU NVIDIA RTX 2060, the baking of the Ambient Occlusion map for an output resolution of 4096x4096 takes around 3 seconds - instead of more than 10 minutes before the update.

With a GPU NVIDIA RTX 2060 the baking of the Thickness map for an output resolution of 4096x4096 takes around 2 seconds - instead of more than 2 minutes before the update.

And there is a neat plus in this new version of the bakers! The cancelling of the bakers process is more responsive, which allows artists to iterate more rapidly than before.

Please note that there is a known issues with GPU 10XX NVIDIA series – DXR baking might be intensive and might freeze for few seconds but with a successful baking.

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