You can apply infinite variations of surface materials to models in Dimension, including metals, glass, plastic, wood, fabrics, and more.
What are materials?
One of the core capabilities of Dimension is the ability to apply a “material” to a 3D object. Materials can be carefully crafted to accurately simulate materials found in the physical world, such as tile, marble, granite, wood, or fabric.
Dimension can apply two types of materials to models: Adobe Standard Materials (MDL format) and Substance Materials (SBSAR format). The MDL format is a subset of the NVidia Material Definition Language that Adobe calls Adobe Standard Material. This format defines how light behaves when it hits the surface of the material. For example, is light emitted from the surface? If so, how much? Is the surface opaque, transparent, or semi-transparent? Is the surface rough or smooth? Does the surface exhibit “luster” like shiny metal? If you can see through the object to the interior, is the interior translucent, and does the object refract the light?
MDL materials can include images that can control properties of the material. For example, a brick material may include a color image for the variations of brick color, a roughness image to give areas shiny or matte effects, and a “normal” image that adds details like pores to the surface.
SBSAR materials originate in Substance Designer. Adobe purchased Allegorithmic, the parent company of Substance Designer, in early 2019. The speciality of Substance Designer is creating parametrically-generated materials, or materials that can be dynamically controlled by one or more parameters. For example, a parametric SBSAR concrete material may allow the user to dynamically control the number of cracks in the concrete, the width of the cracks, variations in the color of the concrete, and the roughness of the surface. From a single parametric material, a user can create an infinite variety of random surface variations.
This lesson is a deep dive into materials. Another way to change the appearance of a model’s surface is to apply one or more graphic images to the surface. Any AI, GIF, JPG, PNG, PSD, SVG, or TIF file can be applied to a model surface as an image. Applying graphics to model surfaces is covered in depth in a later lesson.