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Substance source: Parametric cities! New materials to build your 3D cities faster.

Substance announced their new catalog for 2020-21 with an improvement to their parametric archviz materials.

Last year, they introduced parametric materials to simplify the texturing of building elements, like curtains, walls, and windows. Now, they took a step further by transforming the entire building facades into fully fleshed parametric materials.


Artwork and visuals by the Substance Source team: Maximilien Vert, Eric Lautard, Damien Bousseau.


These facade materials are composed of tillable portions of architectural elements that can be repeated and customized across any 3D model surface. Using the advantages of the parametric materials, you can use sliders to choose the number of floors, windows per floor, window frame thickness, glossiness, wall material, color, and other properties.

A very useful feature is the possibility to add light emission to windows for night scenes. And with some materials, you can even randomize the position of curtains or shutters by choosing if they are closed or open and how much.


Artwork and visuals by the Substance Source team: Maximilien Vert, Eric Lautard, Damien Bousseau.


This allows each of your secondary buildings to look different, without facade repetition. For a more differentiated look, you can choose from many building designs, from concrete block to Modern Brick Herringbone or even Oriental style facade, among others.

Substance source materials of parametric building facades.
Substance source materials of parametric building facades.

This tool removes the need to model almost all facade details. A simple base geometry will be enough to populate your scene with photo-real buildings, which can be used both in the fore and background. But there is an issue...


The problem lies when your ground floor or roof is visible to the camera. Of course, you will want to have some doors, entrances, or even storefronts on your buildings, and there is not a material that offers that possibility. As expected, the same window/wall texture is tiled all over the geometry and If you need specific elements for the ground floor or roof, you will have to make them yourself.

The lack of the possibility to, at least having a few ground floor materials reduces the much proclaimed advantage of quickly applying a parametric material to create buildings and then having to lose time and resources to model or create a texture for those views where the ground floors are visible. Nevertheless, the whole idea looks very promising and technically well designed. Maybe we will see more added features in the future.


Together with the new building facades, they also introduced in their catalog, structural construction materials, interior design, and decoration textures, like translucent plastic, different types of foam, acrylic polymers, woods, marbles, concretes, and parametric metal meshes.

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