After hearing the raves of many 3D artists over the last few years, I finally broke down and bought Substance Painter. The fact that it was recently discounted pretty heavily might have had something to do with it. Why I let at least two similar sales pass me by is a little less clear, even to me.
Is Painter a miracle tool that instantly makes every model I create look fantastic and wins me throngs of adoring fans? No. At its heart, it is an image manipulation tool for texturing 3D objects. It speeds up and simplifies the texturing workflow, but it does nothing that couldn’t be accomplished in Photoshop or Krita. It is more purpose bent toward 3D work, but at the end of the day it’s still taking 2D images and messing with them so they wrap cleanly around a 3D mesh. Artists have been doing a pretty good job of that since before Jurassic Park. I’m fairly sure that I could have kept working on textures without it, but after using it for the last couple of days, I don’t know that I would ever want to.
So, every time I wanted to change the oil in the car I could painstakingly stack up a ramp of wooden blocks to safely lift the car when I drive up on top of it, or I could buy a hydraulic jack and lift the damn thing in 30 seconds. Substance Painter is the hydraulic jack. It won’t change the oil for me but it makes getting at the underside of the car simple and fast.
After switching almost entirely to open source and free software for all my 2D and 3D art needs, the idea of buying a single purpose tool has become difficult to swallow. Krita does everything I ever needed from photoshop (better in most cases) for the high price of nothing. Blender, even with its shotgun blast of an interface, can hold it’s own as a powerful tool for creating and animating 3D models for that same price. Why then would I ever want to pay for a tool? That was the niggling thought that made me pass up those other sales. Why would I ever need expensive software again? Granted, Substance Painter hardly qualifies as expensive software, but that is the trap all the same. I have several computers running Linux right now, a free operating system. I use free or very cheap tools for content creation. I am using one of the 3 free tools I have here to write this post. It gets to the point that paying anything for creation software becomes a difficult mental exercise.
That was the very long way around to saying that Substance Painter is a really solid and good tool. If you texture 3D models, you would probably like using it.