Substance Designer
Advanced Course

Learn how to create Smart Shaders and awesome textures and bring your projects to the next level.

The goal of the course is to give Artists full control on Substance Designer with an in-deep technical knowledge and a strong workflow to generate any type of realistic material.

Substance Designer
for Archviz

Learn how to create Smart Shaders and awesome textures and bring your projects to the next level.

The goal of the course is to give Artists full control on Substance Designer with an in-deep technical knowledge and a strong workflow to generate any type of realistic material.

It’s all about
the right Workflow

It does not matter if you just started or you’re an expert with Substance Designer. We’ve been working for the last 2 year to provide you a strong (but easy to follow) pipeline of work.

It’s all about
the right Workflow

It does not matter if you just started or you’re an expert with Substance Designer. We’ve been working for the last 2 year to provide you a strong (but easy to follow) pipeline of work.

Substance Designer Advanced Course


Substance Designer Advanced Course

Introduction to Substance Designer

Substance Designer is a great software but we need to get some background informations about shading to fully get its potential. Get all the base knowledge about phisically based materials and how to handle informations from the real world.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Setup your material

When you start Substance Designer the first time there’s a main setup you should run to get a perfect preview of what you’re working on. Learn how to setup a material that works fine regardless the rendering engine you’ll use.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Get the shape right

The first step to create a great shader is to get the Height Map right. You’ll be guided through this main stage with a strong technical theory and lots of examples and exercises. Drawing the basic shape of your materials may looks easy but there’s a lot of tips and tricks you’ll see to speed up the process and generate a precise map of your base texture.

Substance Designer Advanced Course


Learn how to go from a simple shape to a three-dimensional silhouette. You’ll see lots of different examples you can easily re-use in your graphs and continue to improve by yourself.

2 Free months
of Substance &
10 Gb of assets

Thanks to Allegorithmic’s collaboration, you’ll get a 2 free months subscription to the Substance suite and we’ll share with you assets to continue your tests. The only thing you need to bring here is your hard-drive!

Substance Designer Advanced Course


Real world is never perfect. Learn how to use references and understand what kind of deformation to use depending on different factors like a material directions or areas mixing together.  

Substance Designer Advanced Course


Learn how to copy from the real world and translate what you see in nodes. Details are what you need to make right to get a convincing result.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Diffuse, Dirt & custom Masks

Learn how to extract custom masks and details from your graph to create great diffuse maps. Dirt and Cavity maps will also help you to get that extra realism to bring your shader to the top.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Realistic reflections

Glossiness / Roughness are something you need to work on and improve. Learn how to create custom nodes you can reuse to generate your own library of grunge maps and save production time.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Mixing Materials

Once your materials are done, why not mixing them? Learn about the right pipeline to blend shaders together, get amazing effects and brand new results effortless.

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Automate tasks

Substance Designer can also help you automate repetitive tasks or just turn complicated ideas into something easy to manage (like a stone-wall material that changes stone type around the edges).

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Work directly on your 3d assets

You can import your unwrapped 3d models in Substance Designer and preview your shaders in real time. Learn how to get the most out of the baking system, create custom masks and ready-to-go channel packed textures.

Substance Designer Advanced Course


Each student can work on his own material and get costant feedbacks from the teachers. We also provide you a library of pre-made materials you can study and also a full 3d interior scene to test your shaders.

Substance Designer Advanced Course


DAY #1

Substance Designer Intro

  • Intro on Substance Designer – course goals
  • How to setup Substance Designer
  • PBR Theory – core concepts
  • Learning from photogrammetry
  • Theory: Height Map


  • Theory: Most useful nodes
  • Base shader configuration (Updated 2019)
  • Workflow (updated) preview
  • Theory: Blending modes
  • Setting up a library for your custom nodes
  • Exposing variables

Define the shape

  • 2D Shape creation
    • Basic tiles / Rounded edges tiles
    • Natural stones & different kind of patterns
    • Complex shape
    • Bricks in a specific position
  • Exercises on shape creation

DAY #2

Extrude the shape

  • 3D Extrusion
    • Tilted tiles
    • How to use Levels to modify the extrusion
    • How to use Curves to modify the extrusion
    • Flood fill theory
    • Carved Natural stones extrusion
    • Pebbles and Rocks extrusion
    • Slopes and Erosion
    • Sand dunes and Fabrics
    • Hard edge modeling
    • Soft shapes from 2D sharp shapes
    • Cage modeling

Work with deformations

  • Deformation
    • Slope blur theory
    • Warp theory
    • Terracing
    • Deformation by direction
    • Deformation by areas
    • Deformation by vector map
  • Exercises on deformation

DAY #3

Detailing your material

  • Details
    • Understanding details’ size
    • Cracks and holes
    • Scratches
    • Carving into the model
    • Breaking continuity by offsetting details
    • Scattering details
    • Copying details from photos
    • Create your custom nodes for details
    • Micro Details


  • What to do before Diffuse
  • Diffuse theory
  • Gradient map
  • Exercises on Diffuse
  • Adding Dirt based on the shape
  • Exercises on Masks (part #1)

Reflections & Glossiness

  • Glossiness / Roughness theory
  • Different types of surface details
  • Microsurface differences
  • How to create fingerprints
  • How to create brushed metal
  • Exercises on Glossiness

DAY #4

 Mixing materials

  • Techniques on mixing materials
    • Mixing materials on masks
    • Mixing materials on height
    • Mixing materials on aging

Automate tasks

  • Mixing Photogrammetry and Procedurality
  • Smart automation with flood fill
  • Linking nodes together
  • Function creation
  • Automate the export of texture sets

DAY #5

 Work on 3d models

  • How to import your 3D models
  • How to bake needed textures
  • Exercises on Masks (part #2)
  • Exercises on furniture


  • Walkthrough on premade SOA materials
  • Collecting references
  • Workshop on a student-chosen material
  • Work Review

Test your materials

During the course you’ll be able to test your efforts on a scene we prepared for you which runs on 3DsMax and could be rendered with V-Ray or Corona. 

Next Courses

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Course Details

Course Title

Substance Designer Advanced Course

Software used

Substance Designer 2018.3.x


Base knowledge of Substance Designer Interface.

Available seats

12 seats.

Course Length

~ 40 hours.

Bonus contents

  • More than 100 examples & exercises files
  • More than 10 Gb of assets
  • 2 Free months of subscription to Substance
  • Customized SOA Academy T-shirt / Notebook / Pen


Official SOA Substance Designer Certification


€ 1,550 + 22% VAT (+ € 55.00 admin fee).



Here are some questions related to our courses and facilities that SoA Academy students frequently ask. If you
can’t find an answer to your doubts, send us an email and we’ll give you a reply soon. There are no silly
questions but only clever answers.


Novice courses are for artists who are moving the first steps in the Architectural Visualisation field and need the basic knowledge to start from scratch. If you want to start learning without losing further time, these are the courses for you.


The Advanced Courses are for artists who have some kind of experience in the 3D world and they want to improve their productivity and skills on specific areas. If you want to reach the top in a short time, these are the courses for you.


The workshop are advanced courses meant for artists who have experience and want to prove themselves through a set of practical exercises. Space to practice with the advise of the teachers.


Masterclasses are the most complete courses at Academy and are meant for artists who want to learn an efficient workflow to create images and architectural videos. From 10 to 100 in few weeks.


How can I know which is the course that most suits me?

The choice of the course depends on you, your skills, your interest and the time you have at your disposal. For example, if you don’t have much time and want to develop specific topics, look at our Advanced courses (the ArchViz is the best if you want to improve lighting and rendering, the Post-production is the best choice if you want to work with photoshop). Anyway, we remind you that the Masterclass is the most complete course we offer because it covers important topics in the Architectural Visualization.

I’ve chosen the best course for me, what do I have to do now? How can I apply?

Go to the “calendar” page in our website, click on the course you want to apply and fill the form. As soon as we receive your request, we’ll send you an email with the instructions for the payment and the contract to complete your registration. Once you’ve made the payment, send us a receipt of the bank transfer and the contract signed. This is the only way to book a seat.

How long does the Masterclass last? What is the timetable?

The Masterclasses last some weeks (2 or 4) from Monday to Friday with the following timetable: from 9 am to 1 pm / from 2 pm to 6 pm.

How long do the Advanced courses last? What is the timetable?

The Advance courses last 5 days from Monday to Friday with the following timetable: from 9 am to 1 pm / from 2 pm to 6 pm.

In your website I see that all the Masterclasses are fully booked, do you have a waiting list? How can I subscribe it?

Yes, we do have a waiting list for each course. If you want to be added in a waiting list, send us an email. Attention: the name listing doesn’t grant a seat in the course.

Where do the courses take place?

All courses take place in our Academy in Via Monte Popera 4/6 in San Donà di Piave (a city close to Venice – Italy).

Do you offer any online courses?

No, we don’t. The Academy team likes being in contact with the students to instantly solve any kind of problem that might arise. We also think that a face-to-face course is the best way to establish a good relationship with the guys who, in the end, become part of the Academy family. This is the reason why, we don’t have any online courses.

What time are classes?

Classes are from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm.

What is the language of the courses?

Some courses are in English and some in Italian. Next to each course listed in the “calendar” webpage, you’ll find the abbreviations ITA or ENG to specify the language used in that course.

How deeply do I need to know English? Do I need Italian?

The English level used doesn’t require a deep knowledge of the language. The software interfaces are in English and the terms are strictly related to the Architectural Visualization field. Although the teachers are Italian, you don’t need to know Italian to attend a course (unless it is an Italian one).

After the courses, do you organize any internships?

No, we don’t. Anyway, we are often asked by Italian and worldwide Companies for talented Artists to insert in their Studios. We always pass these offers on to our (ex) students and if they’re interested, they can contact the Studios directly.

Can a course be cancelled?

Yes, it can. If we don’t reach the minimum number of registrations necessary to make the course start (4/5 people), the course might be cancelled. The people who have already registered will be contacted and they will be able to choose among other options.

How much do the courses cost?

Please, look at the “course” page in our website to get the costs (link alla pagina corsi). VAT is not included in the prices listed (+ 22%).

After the classes and in the weekends will we have homework?

No, you’ll have the time during the classes to exercise, so you won’t have any homework after the classes or in the weekends.

What do I need to take for the course?

Academy will provide all the materials necessary to attend the courses: notepad, pencil, pen, workstation with the relevant softwares, graphic tablet, keyboard and mouse. We suggest you to take a hard disk with you to save the files you’ve been working on in the course.

Do I need my laptop?

No, you don’t. During the course, you’ll use our workstations. Anyway, if you want to exercise in the night hours after class, take it with you!