3D Artist

Substance Painter 2 Review

News & Features
Tim Bergholz

Is the latest full release of Allegorithmic’s texture painter worth the upgrade? Find out in our Substance Painter 2 review

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Substance Painter 2.1 was released recently. Find out what the free update includes here

Essential info

Price $149 Indie licence, $590 Pro licence
Website allegorithmic.com/buy/download
OS Windows 7 and up – 64 bit mandatory / Mac OS X 10.7 and up
Graphics 1GB VRAM
HDD 150MB available space
GPU Integrated not recommended

Since its original release in 2014, Substance Painter has established itself as essential software for texture artists, especially in the videogames industry.

It offers an intuitive software solution for creating PBR textures, which is now the standard in every major game engine.

The 2.0 release comes in two different price models for indie developers and standard company licences. It also adds a lot of new features, enabling you to work with brushes, materials and masks in more efficient and creative ways.

Artists familiar with Substance Painter will feel right at home upon the first load of the new 2.0 build.

While the tools and functionality remain in the same place, the UI has enjoyed a subtle but sleek update that adds bright blue lines on top of the shelf tabs as well as redesigned icons.

One of the most interesting new workflow enhancements are the so-called smart masks that appear next to the material tabs and also work hand in hand with each other.

Adding generators, filters and paint layers onto a material mask is key to creating impressive texture work in Substance Painter. It lets you modulate the baked map inputs, which results in creating an infinite amount of unique wear-and-tear looks such as oil leakage, metal edgewear or subtle dust.

With the new Smart Mask feature we can now make use of dozens of prebuilt masks to speed up workflow, not having to build them from scratch for every new mask. Most importantly we are able to name and save out our own generated masks and reapply them on any given occasion.

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An often-mentioned feature request for Substance Painter was that of a built-in viewport renderer.

This has now been integrated with NVIDIA’s powerful Iray renderer as an alternative viewport and provides a seamless switch between the original viewport and Iray.

Iray is a GPU-accelerated and CPU-based path tracer, which enables artists to render out beautiful hi-res images without having to leave the software. AMD graphics card owners will automatically be defaulted to CPU-based rendering.

Features not yet included in the 2.0 launch, but announced for the 2.x cycle are 8K resolution, painting across texture sets, UDIM as well as a better use of high-DPI monitors.

Allegorithmic reacted quickly by commenting that these are seen as high-priority features on its road map. It would without a doubt help to reach a wider audience beyond the gaming industry and it’s going to be interesting to see which feature comes first.

Another useful addition is the full-screen viewport toggle, which puts a swift end to constantly having to rearrange the toolbars in order to get the maximum available viewport space. Allegorithmic has further added a smudge and a clone brush, which can be very efficient for getting rid of texture seams.

SS SubstancePainter2_Smartmask Shelf

The alpha and texture library has had an extensive content update with hundreds of new additions to pick from, enabling you to add a lot more detail to the textures if necessary.

New scan-based PBR materials add to the library of materials to pick from, and it’s now possible to switch to an orthographic view which can be very useful when doing actual painting on the object.

With the new release, Allegorithmic has improved the already superb Substance Painter texturing experience in many fields, offering artists an ideal solution for baking, texturing and rendering their artwork. Allegorithmic has proven that it listens closely to the community and has let feedback help shape releases.

With the outlook towards further strong upgrades for the 2.x cycle, Substance Painter is building its dominance as the best standalone texturing software for artists in the videogames industry.


Allegorithmic continues to deliver substantial new features for its flagship software

Features – 4/5
Performance – 4/5
Design – 5/5
Value for money – 5/5

Overall – 4.5/5