Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Adobe ships Substance Alchemist 2020.2

Adobe has released Substance Alchemist 2020.2, the latest version of its material authoring software, adding an interesting new AI-driven system for generating 3D materials from single source photos.

The release, also referred to as Substance Alchemist 2.2 in the online documentation, also adds a new 2D painting mode, enabling users to paint custom masks for texture layers.

New AI-trained Image to Material algorithm automatically converts source photos to materials
The headline feature in the release is the new Image to Material filter, which converts a single source photo into a Substance material, automatically generating normal and displacement maps.

The new algorithm, which has been trained on real-world source images using machine learning techniques, is available in parallel to the old Bitmap 2 Material (B2M) algorithm.

According to Adobe, it should generate better results on source images similar to those on which the algorithm was trained: outdoor materials like ground or wall textures, lit with natural sunlight.

B2M “may produce less accurate results but will work on a wider range of input images”.

We wrote about Image to Material when Adobe previewed it in April, when it was codenamed ‘Materia’, so check out the original story for more details.

The new AI algorithm is supported on Windows and Linux only, and requires a compatible Nvidia GPU: it “runs faster on RTX GPUs”, but older Nvidia cards will work too.

New 2D painting toolset enables users to paint custom layer masks
The other major new feature in Substance Alchemist 2020.2 is the new 2D painting system.

In its initial implementation, it seems to be mainly geared towards painting custom masks for material layers or to control scattering patterns in texture atlases, as shown in the video above.

It is supported in “many filters”, and comes with basic controls for brush size and colour, the option to invert the greyscale value of paint strokes, and to pan and zoom while painting.

According to Adobe, the current feature set is “only the beginning of painting in Substance Alchemist” and will be fleshed out in subsequent updates.

Other changes: new Perspective Correction filter, drag-and-drop workflow for texture sets
Other new features in Substance Alchemist 2020.2 include a handy-looking Perspective Correction filter, intended to remove perspective deformation in source texture images not shot face-on to the camera.

Updates to existing toolsets include improvements to the Clone tool, and a new Per Channel blend mode. Several of the readymade effects filters have also been updated, including Moss, Cracks and Floor Tiles.

Workflow improvements include the option to drag and drop texture sets – such as those from online libraries – directly into the viewport, with Substance Alchemist handling channel matching automatically.

Under the hood, the startup time for the software has been reduced, and performance has been improved when manipulating material layers, although Adobe doesn’t put a figure on the speed boost.

The update also adds new export presets for 3D clothing design tools CLO and VStitcher.

Pricing and availability
Substance Alchemist 2020.2 is available for 64-bit Windows 8+, CentOS 7.0/Ubuntu 16.04+ Linux and macOS 10.12+.

The software is only available as part of Adobe’s Substance subscriptions, which also provide access to Substance Painter and Substance Designer, plus downloads from online asset library Substance Source.

Indie subscriptions, intended for users with revenue under $100,000/year, cost $19.90/month or $219/year. Pro subscriptions cost $99.90/month or $990/year.

Read a full list of features in Substance Alchemist 2020.2 in the online changelog

Visit the Substance Alchemist product website