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Adobe Substance 3D review

Adobe Substance 3D suite has been added to the Creative Cloud, kind of, but is it worth the extra expense?

Adobe Substance 3D review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Adobe Substance 3D collection both integrates and develops the existing Substance applications into an exciting new bedrock for 3D content creation – leveraging Adobe’s AI Smarts with Substance’s ease of use. The only thing letting these applications down is a confusing pricing structure for new and existing Adobe subscribers.

For

  • Excellent integration with Adobe suite
  • Established workflow for pro artists
  • Excellent community and resources

Against

  • Adds subscription costs to monthly overheads

Creative Bloq Verdict

The Adobe Substance 3D collection both integrates and develops the existing Substance applications into an exciting new bedrock for 3D content creation – leveraging Adobe’s AI Smarts with Substance’s ease of use. The only thing letting these applications down is a confusing pricing structure for new and existing Adobe subscribers.

Pros

  • + Excellent integration with Adobe suite
  • + Established workflow for pro artists
  • + Excellent community and resources

Cons

  • - Adds subscription costs to monthly overheads

Adobe Substance 3D has undergone a bit of an evolution, ever since Allegorithmic was purchased by Adobe in early 2019. The plan has been that the industry standard texturing Substance suite for 3D artists would become part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Collection of applications. Well, that time has come...kind of! 

The new Adobe Substance 3D Collection ‘Adobifies’, the existing core creation apps into Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Designer, while reinventing Alchemist as the new Substance 3D Sampler and adding the intriguing new Substance 3D Stager into the mix. But how does it measure up when compared to the rest of our best 3D modelling software list? 

Adobe Substance 3D: New features

There are new feature additions to Substance 3D Painter. The new Adobe Standard Material that allows creating more complex materials within a Texture Set adds some new Channels for Sheen and Coat, amongst others. Most of the latest changes in Painter are cosmetic and allow more significant interaction between other Substance apps and the broader Adobe creative ecosystem. 

Substance 3D Designer also get these ease of life (if you are an Adobe user) enhancements. More importantly Designer receives a whole new graph type with the Substance Model graph, which allows the creation of procedural models directly within Substance 3D Designer. While it is still an initial release. Direct asset creation was the missing piece of the Substance offering, and it is great to see the capability to create bespoke geometry within the Substance 3D collection. 

While the addition of complex procedural models in Substance 3D Designer will make many experienced 3D artists happy, what about new artists combing from Adobe’s 2D core apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator? These artists are covered by the new Substance 3D stager application, which allows the creation of complex 3D scenes using a simple drag and drop interface.

Adobe Substance 3D: Great for beginners

Using either a model from the wide variety of available assets, either within the Substance 3D Stager application or sourced from the Substance 3D Assets online collections (a crucial part of the Substance 3D experience), an artist unfamiliar with 3D can now easily create product shots. 

There's also support for a logo designed in illustrator that can be easily ‘plonked’ onto a model and resized and iterated until the right look is achieved. The render engine within Substance 3D stager supports ray-tracing, and it can work with custom backplates. Substance 3D Sampler can recreate camera angles and lighting from these images literally with a single mouse click. The render quality is excellent, with the ability to preview still renders quickly and easily. In fact, it is easy to see how many 2D design agencies could mobilise Substance 3D stager to be the only 3D solution they need. 

Adobe Substance 3D: Subscription model

Adobe Substance 3D review

The combination of Adobe Substance 3D Painter  with the new Adobe Standard Material and the high-quality Substance 3D Asset Library gives artists the ability to create custom looks for their 3D assets in minutes (Image credit: Future)

So while the software developers have done wonders to integrate the Substance applications into the Adobe family, those at Adobe who are in charge of product marketing and pricing have let this hard work down. Any artist who thinks that when they click on the ‘Creative Cloud All Apps’ Plan to buy all that Adobe offers will be sorely disappointed. The Substance 3D Collection is confusingly not included in this package. It has to be paid for separately via a not inconsequential monthly or annual subscription. This seems like a massive missed opportunity by the team at Adobe. By all means, the Creative Cloud suite could do with more pricing structures that allow users to focus on set disciplines. But does the ‘All Apps’ pricing option actually mean that? 

The sticker shock of buying ‘another’ Creative Cloud’ subscription could alienate 2D artists who could really benefit from applications like the new Substance 3D Stager as a gateway into 3D content creation. This is a crying shame for everyone in the creative community. However, it's worth noting that there is currently a discount available on the Adobe Substance 3D Collection, check out our Adobe Creative Cloud discount page for more details.

Read more: V-Ray review

The Verdict
8

out of 10

Adobe Substance 3D

The Adobe Substance 3D collection both integrates and develops the existing Substance applications into an exciting new bedrock for 3D content creation – leveraging Adobe’s AI Smarts with Substance’s ease of use. The only thing letting these applications down is a confusing pricing structure for new and existing Adobe subscribers.

Rob Redman

Rob Redman is the editor of 3D World and has a background in animation, visual effects, and photography.  

As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, Rob is also an avid beard grower.