• Which the release of FS2020 we see an explosition of activity on the forun and of course we are very happy to see this. But having all questions about FS2020 in one forum becomes a bit messy. So therefore we would like to ask you all to use the following guidelines when posting your questions:

    • Tag FS2020 specific questions with the MSFS2020 tag.
    • Questions about making 3D assets can be posted in the 3D asset design forum. Either post them in the subforum of the modelling tool you use or in the general forum if they are general.
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    • Questions about airport design can be posted in the FS2020 airport design forum. Once airport development tools have been updated for FS2020 you can post tool speciifc questions in the subforums of those tools as well of course.
    • Questions about terrain design can be posted in the FS2020 terrain design forum.
    • Questions about SimConnect can be posted in the SimConnect forum.

    Any other question that is not specific to an aspect of development or tool can be posted in the General chat forum.

    By following these guidelines we make sure that the forums remain easy to read for everybody and also that the right people can find your post to answer it.

MSFS Blender/Substance Painter Workflow

I am still just learning Blender and I think from what I have read I also want to try and use Substance Painter to generate PBR textures for my models for the new Flight Simulator. I am coming from this with a small bit of past experience using SketchUp to design models and Photoshop for texturing in the old simulators.... To be clear I am only designing airports. I am not interested in making aircraft.

My question is does this workflow have you designing the 3d model in Blender and then doing all of your textures and PBR materials in Substance Painter? Is Blender used in this situation for any texturing or materials at all? What about Ambient Occlusion (which I have not done before and is also new to me)? UV Unwrapping? Is that part of Substance Painter? I'm kinda lost as to what the process is between these two software programs.
 

Vitus

Resource contributor
There isn't just one answer to that question, the workflow will be different from person to person. Here's what I do:
I try to compartmentalize my project, predominantly based on the different materials I used. For instance, all parts of the engine will share one UV map, so I'd consider this to be one unit. At the start of the project, I have a rough idea which parts go together on one UV and I will begin to lay out the rough shape of my aircraft.
When working on one of these units, I try to finish them off one by one, rather than trying to get the whole aircraft fully modeled first. There's pros and cons to that approach, it really depends on what you're comfortable with.

So let's say I want to get my engine done. The beginning is done in Blender, of course, building the base geometry.

Once the engine is modeled, I UV unwrap everything in Blender, because Blender is actually pretty decent for that task - Substance is too automated for my taste. A whole engine is probably about half a day to a day of work to unwrap smartly. I create a new material for the engine and apply it to all of the objects, however I just leave all paramaters blank at this point.

I'll export only the engine as an FBX for Substance Painter. Make sure to check "Selected Objects" and turn off "Bake Animations" - it might crash Blender for some weird reason.

In SP, I create a new project and use the FBX as the model. I bake all the mesh maps - including the AO map, however this is only temporary! Now comes the fun part - applying materials, blending oil stains, threading screws, etc.etc. Once that's done I export all textures as PNGs/TGAs. I also save the project, so I can make adjustments later on.

Back in Blender, I start setting up my material and import all those maps from SP. Then I move on to the next unit to model.

Once all the geometry is in place, I use Blender to bake the AO maps. This is tedious and takes a LOOOOONG time. But it's important to do this in Blender, so that occlusion can be "shared" between objects of different materials. Once I got the map for one of the materials done, I go back into Substance, import the new AO map, apply it to the AO slot and then export the texture sets again to update the final P3D/MSFS comp material.

That's roughly the workflow. Of course, in reality it's much more chaotic, because you'll make mistakes that you only notice ten steps down the line.

I hope this helps.
 
I think my head just exploded. LOL

I kinda get what you are saying though and as I am only doing buildings and scenery objects it seems it would be easier than doing an entire aircraft for sure. I just want to have a good workflow to get PBR textures supported by MSFS and it seems the Blender/Substance Painter combo is maybe more efficient than some of the other methods. I am continuing to learn. I have my airport layout done so it’s time to start working on the 3D models.
 
I think my head just exploded. LOL
I kinda get what you are saying though and as I am only doing buildings and scenery objects it seems it would be easier than doing an entire aircraft for sure. I just want to have a good workflow to get PBR textures supported by MSFS and it seems the Blender/Substance Painter combo is maybe more efficient than some of the other methods. I am continuing to learn. I have my airport layout done so it’s time to start working on the 3D models.
What I did for my building models was just use a (geometric) plane in substance painter to convert my normal/image/roughness textures to the right format, and only then UV map them properly to my model. My models' geometry was so funky that this was the easiest option and it worked pretty well for me.
 
Many thanks Vitus for your hard work and sharing this great workflow and also the export settings for Substance Abuse... I mean Substance Painter. oops..

Question. In Substance Painter, how do you drag and drop the textures to the boxes? Do you drag the files from the far right in SP into the export slots? Or do you drag those little colored square/cubes in the Export window to the export slots? The 'Export' button isnt lit up when I wish to export the package I have created in SP.

Screenshot 2020-10-30 205751.jpg
 
Solved... Found the proper way to export. Mind you, I havent exported one yet, but things lined up this time. Video on YouTube showing the templates slot in the 'FIRST' tab, Export 'Settings', not the Templates tab. sigh...

Screenshot for future users that might go down the wrong path by mistake as I did.

Screenshot 2020-10-30 233117.jpg
 
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