HOW Do I ADD ambient occlusion In substance Designer?
Rachel Harrison, Edinburgh
Ambient Occlusion (AO) is essential for pretty much every model that you will texture. Its application for creating fine shadows, surface wear and tear or even dust makes it a very handy texture. Every renderer will provide you with a map that simulates it and Substance Designer is no different.
Quite recently Substance Designer made some pretty impressive improvements to its AO map, so I’ll run through how to do this from version 5.6. Prior to this new AO node, you had to bake your AO map from your 3D mesh. This wasn’t necessarily a major problem but it did require an extra step and therefore added extra time to your workflow. In version 5.6, though, Substance Designer decided to completely overhaul the node and give us a new one! It’s called the HBAO node, which stands for Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion. It’s still based on a height map but compared to the previous raytraced option, it delivers exceptional results in a fraction of the time. Thank you Substance!
To get the node up and running you will need to create a bitmap node (containing your height map), and connect it to your Ambient Occlusion node. With the AO node selected, you’ll gain access to all of the node’s parameters. Let’s take a look at the Instance Parameters rollout briefly. Firstly, it gives you the option to Use World Units. If you click where it says False, then it’ll enable you to specify the units you want to use. Following that, you can set the Height Depth you require. The Radius parameter now behaves in a much more natural way, which is good to hear.
Finally, there is the option for GPU Optimization. If you want to use this you will need to make sure that the Rendering Engine is set to your GPU, rather than your CPU. Plugging your AO node into a base material will then give you something that is usable.
It’s really that simple! Please note that you can give the AO node any bitmap data, enabling you to customise exactly what your AO is going to look like.