Substance Source and Pablo Munoz Gomez: Skin Micro Details

Nicolas Paulhac on May 10 2019 | Technology, Substance Source

Today, my friends, we undertake a journey into the world of darkness. Rejoice, character artists, for we bring you 18 fully procedural skin micro details dedicated to gore texturing!

Welcome to a world of moldy, burnt, or putrid flesh and injuries of all kinds with a collection of parametric materials designed especially for the creation of monsters, zombies and wounded soldiers.

Joining the effort this time is Pablo Muñoz Gomez, master zombie maker at ZBrushGuides, based in Australia. He will show you how to transform these clean and pristine skin materials into a more mature state of decomposition. In addition, we have new materials created to disfigure characters: sutures, cuts, rot, pus, and of course blood, pints of blood!

We recommend that you don’t eat before seeing what follows.

Warning sensitive content, the following images are graphic in nature and viewer discretion is advised.

This week, we want to talk about another widespread practice among artist: creating fantasy anthropomorphic characters and – it’s not illegal if it’s virtual – killing people.

Last week, Magdalena Dadela gave us an overview on how to texture healthy creatures. Today, Pablo will inflict on his creation what, in real life, would get you a one-way ticket to the ‘big house’. Or the sanitarium.

Before taking a dive into pus, mucus and flesh, let’s begin with a closer look at the new assets available today on Substance Source.

With this collection, we wanted to provide tools which help you with the most time-consuming parts of your workflow. And when it comes to injuries happening live in front of the player or viewer, it can become even more complex as you must rely on resource-hungry technologies to animate the evolution of the character’s health in real time.

Procedural materials are perhaps part of the solution as wounds and cuts can be included as part of the texturing process.

Furthermore, as the assets are parametric in nature, turning an innocent juvenile pimple into a purulent pustule becomes as simple as moving a slider. Did we mention that it’s fun as well? Because you can make changes to the materials directly in Substance Painter as you work on the look development of the character.

Substance Player becomes your personal surgery table! Cut and slice anywhere, any size, and close the wound with stitches or staples. In the cloud, no one can hear the screams.

Since anything is possible, why not make a wound evolve in time according to the story? Animate the parameters of a Substance material to expand a bad burn, or simulate in real time how flesh wounds can heal and scar after the battle.

Whether you need to create monsters, zombies, vampires from fantasy worlds or injure heroic soldiers during battles for freedom both historic and imaginary, today’s selection is your toolset for surgical creativity.

Now it’s time for Pablo to walk you through the artwork he kindly agreed to create for the purpose of the project with the Substance Source team.

We created the materials with his insight and feedback in order to fit with his design intentions in Substance Painter - and he has first-hand tips and tricks to help you use the materials with optimal results.

Pablo Munoz Gomez

Hello, my name is Pablo Munoz Gomez and I’m a concept and character artist based in Melbourne, Australia. I also run the ZBrushGuides website.

The new parametric materials for wounds and skin damage are an absolute gem. The new assets not only speed up the texturing workflow but, if you can stomach the disgusting effects they produce, they are really fun to tweak. Going from a fresh cut to an infected putrid skin wound takes only a few seconds. So naturally, creating a zombie character was a great opportunity to test all the new procedural materials.

The setup and sculpting of the zombie were done entirely in ZBrush and I kept a rather smooth surface across the model. The idea was to create the primary and secondary forms in ZBrush but rely on Substance Painter and the new assets for the tertiary and high-frequency details.

The first pass on the skin texture is a simple combination of red, yellow and blue colors to generate pigment variation using generators and bitmap masks. I used the various skin grain materials to produce a first pass on the skin details. I like to create different fill layers and set them to very bright and contrasting colors. This allows me to visualize the placement of the skin patterns a bit better and to manually paint masks to blend the details.

After completing the first pass and blending masks, I turn off the bright colors and I’m left with the original base texture plus the normal and height details of the skin grain. Then I start the design and detailing process of the scars, burnt skin, and wounds, which is where the new assets really shine.

The new parametric materials can be very specific, like ‘Skin Milia Generator’ but since you have slider controls to customize the look of them, you can use them to generate completely different effects to what the name suggests. For instance, I use the 'Skin Acne Scar Generator' with a few tweaks to produce what could be the remaining bits of the dermis and epidermis from this character skin.

I used other assets like the Skin Mole to place specific details in areas of interest like the chest. Again, because of the parametric nature of the materials, I can not only change the look of the details but also combine them with other assets. For instance, mixing the Skin Mole, the Skin Crust Generator and a bit of the Skin Flesh Carbonized gave me lots of control over how the rotten flesh and dead skin looked on the zombie character.

Part of my self-imposed challenge was to produce all the skin details within Substance Painter, so I also used a more traditional workflow combining new materials like Micro Veins and Sunburn Peeled Skin, with manually painted masks and smart masks. The hand and the skin tears around the face are clear examples of this workflow.

Another exciting addition is the human blood material. This was an essential element in the design of the zombie for obvious reasons, but also because it lets you customize the look of the blood quite a bit, so I used it as a base to create the more dramatic injuries on the character skin.

This was a very exciting project to be part of. The new assets are definitely a great addition to my texturing workflow, as I’m sure they will be for everyone else. The skin damage materials speed up the production of complex details and also provide a space where you can get creative mixing them up with other available tools and processes in Substance Painter.

That’s all for now! It’s your turn to play and we really hope to be horrified by what you create using these new skin micro detail materials.

Many of you have been asking for tutorials dedicated to character art, and we’ve heard you! So keep your eyes open - we’re planning livestream sessions with both Magdalena and Pablo to share more about character texturing techniques very soon.

On behalf of the Substance team, we would like to thank Magdalena Dadela and Pablo Munoz Gomez for their help and the quality of their work for the project.

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