Built on ‘Medium’, Adobe’s New Substance 3D Modeler Aims to Bring VR Modeling to Pro Workflows


This week Adobe revealed its new Substance 3D software suite which is designed to give creative professionals a comprehensive set of tools for modeling, texturing, and lighting 3D objects and scenes. Built on the foundation of the VR sculpting tool Oculus Medium (which Adobe acquired back in 2019), the Substance 3D Modeler tool aims to make VR modeling an integral part of the suite’s 3D workflow.

Adobe’s new Substance 3D suite is comprised of five apps that work together:

  • Substance 3D Stager – Compose and render state-of-the-art 3D scenes in your own virtual studio.
  • Substance 3D Painter – Texture 3D models in real time with this industry-standard app.
  • Substance 3D Sampler – Create 3D materials and lights in a flash from real-life images.
  • Substance 3D Designer – Design parametric 3D assets with full control and infinite possibilities.
  • Substance 3D Modeler – Intuitively sculpt 3D models on desktop and in VR

While the first four are available now with the launch of the toolset, the VR-capable Substance 3D Modeler is in a closed beta for the time being. If you’re interested you can sign-up here.

Oculus Medium lead designer Lydia Choy, who transitioned to Adobe in the acquisition, is also playing a leading role in the development of the Substance 3D Modeler. In a video segment about the Substance 3D suite Choy says that Medium will continue to be freely available in the Oculus PC store, but 3D Modeler is a new direction for the project, which is “built on the foundations of Medium, but with a more ambitious vision that’s geared for professional workflow.”

For one, 3D Modeler works with both flat screens and VR, and artists can switch between the two at any point. Users can even use industry-standard stylus input for “prevision and surface-based sculpting,” or pop into VR for intuitive, hands-on modeling that’s designed to feel like working with clay.

“With medium, much of the workflow was focused on the creation of organic and hard-surface objects. For Modeler, we are carrying over this capability but also giving you powerful assembly features,” says Choy. “It will be easy to copy and organize content as instances, so when you edit one of the objects, all of the siblings also change. This is an efficient way to duplicate parts of your creation and add repeating details, assemble complex scenes, or play with variations of your design.”

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Further, 3D Modeler is designed for seamless integration into the rest of the Substance 3D toolset.

“Modeler will be the starting point for your [3D] ideas, and from there you will have a smooth transition into the rest of your professional workflow or pipeline. When you are ready to take things further, it will be easy to send your work into [Substance 3D Painter] for texturing and materials, and then for a final render in [Substance 3D Stager], Blender, or another lighting tool of choice. And then over to Photoshop for a final paintover,” Choy explains.

So far we haven’t seen mention of headsets beyond Rift S being supported by Substance 3D Modeler. While Medium was only ever available on the Oculus PC store, now that Adobe acquired the company it’s possible that we’ll see support for non-Oculus headsets too.

On Twitter Choy notes that “the work [on Substance 3D Modeler] is still pretty early, so there will be more news as it progresses.”

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • SteamVR support please.

  • Jetson

    Please please please SteamVR indeed and support for Vive, HP Reverb, Valve and I can not thank Adobe enough to save the Medium application from the claws of the Facebooktatorship and develop it further in a creative direction!

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    • Rogue Transfer

      Actually, OpenXR would be the better fit – less overhead than SteamVR for WMR devices, in particular. Plus, the Vive, Index and Pimax all have OpenXR support through SteamVR now too.

      Let’s ditch being tied to any particular company platform, be that Facebook or Valve’s, now that there’s an industry open standard to use instead. Though, SteamVR would be good – if not looking forward to OpenXR – rather than being limited to just Facebook’s platform. But now, OpenXR is ready enough to use and is a better future we all want, away from store/platform market holders.

  • Jaap

    If adobe was a car company, they would be building a fast horse with a subscription

    • I mean, I’m paying like £30ish p/m on the largest ecosystem of creative tools. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

      • Rogue Transfer

        So £1,800 every five years(ignoring increases in prices bound to come).

        • Yes, and 3600 every ten. I don’t really understand your point. I subscribe, they mantain and update. I make £30 worth of value at least p/m, whether its in entertainment or return. These are commercial tools. If you wanna play with MS paint or GIMP, be my guest.

        • Sebastien Lemieux

          We were paying more than that before with updates to the software each two years. The old business model pushed people to never update, and created the mess where most companies still had to maintain multiple versions of the softwares on their network so they can accomodate multiple clients and partners…

          Cost of ownership for people who kept up to date went down, and they have access to more.

        • propagandawar

          Don’t forget to mention we don’t need $1,800.00 a year of generally useless updates. I sell phone systems and Hosted pay me well, but people are learning it’s a load of crap, vs owning it yourself. I own substance and I’ll be damned if I pay for a sub for adobe.

  • DanDei

    And now merge this with Gravity Sketch and we got our first really good 3D modeling tool in VR. So far both are missing crucial components the orther has (at least more of)

  • It has become very Adobe… for the good and the bad

  • So Abode does the absolute bare minimum to catch up to so many other existing VR modeling programs? Kodon, for instance, has been doing this for 5 years now. I’m willing to bet Adobe’s entry will cost quite a bit more on release.

  • Foreign Devil

    I hope to try it out. . but it does look like quite a departure from Adobe Medium. . I quite like using Adobe Medium.

  • Cless

    Sounds great really. As a professional 3D artist very into sculpting in VR, I want to see what they are working on, still not happy about they pretty much killing Medium though..

    • Kevin White

      What software do you primarily model and sculpt in?

      • Cless

        Mostly medium and Kodon, but they aren’t just powerful or versatile enough to be used in professional workflows sadly :/
        Good for starting shapes

  • David A Bacher

    Maybe they’ll take this opportunity to merge (even if it is a separate subscription) the Allegorithmic (Substance) software that they acquired into Creative Cloud so that there is a single launcher, single account management and single billing for both products instead of keeping Substance separate as they’ve done so far.

  • pasfish111

    Still fat to primitive :-(