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Working on Beach Sand Material in Substance 3D Designer

Oday Abuzaeed shared the workflow behind the beach sand material and explained how its imperfections were generated.

The Beach Sand Material

Hey everyone! The beach material is quite simple, we can break it down into 4 sections:

  1. sand
  2. waves and shore
  3. sand castle 
  4. imperfections


Beach sand has its own characteristics: it's grainy, rough, and chunky, with a lot of surface noise from footprints and the wind. So the best way to do it is by combining cell noise with different scales with some distortion.

And to give it that grainy look, add a black-and-white spot texture with high scale, then make it slope blur and then overlay the output with the sand you did.

Shore & Waves

The sand affected by waves has quite a different look than the dry one, as it's wet, smooth, and has a lower noise level with visible directional noise due to the dragging of the waves. To achieve this, we need to use a Gradient map and warp it with Perlin Noise. Then, directionally warp the outcome with Anisotropic Noise, slightly warp it, and add some blur.

The waves are the same as the shore but with a Transform node attached to the Gradient so that you can control the offset. At the end, give it some thickness using Levels and blend in some cell noise to mimic the foam.

Sand Castle

The sand castle is created in a separate graph and added later, but the castle is shaped using mostly shape and transform nodes and then beveled.

The spiral stairs are the complex ones, created by adding a gradient, then making it round using the Cartesian to Polar node. To create the stairs, just use the Quantize node with a value of around 64.


This is by far the biggest part, as it includes twigs, pebbles, a bucket, a trash bag, and cigarette butts.


Using a Shape node, Transform, blur, and then warp, you've got yourself a twigs generator.

Small Pebbles

Using a simple yet effective technique, subtractng a paraboloid shape and cell texture, then slightly warping it, you have a small stone generator.

Cigarette Butts

Start with shape extrude, then warp it with different noise, and use a gradient map to split it into sections for coloring. Feed that into a tile sampler and make it tile randomly.


For the bucket, create simple nested rings for the downside and subtract them from a shape extrude with a slight blur.

Trash Bag 

It's a square shape warped multiple times using Perlin and Crystal noise, with added gradient for the height.

The big challenge is to handle all of these and blend them using height blend or shape splatter, as the graph might get out of hand.

Lastly, here are the maps breakdown and Substance 3D Designer's viewport:


I really wish it was more complex than that, giving the impression that I am a sort of genius, but usually, it's way simpler than you think. Keep in mind that the higher your skills get, the simpler your solutions are.

Oday Abuzaeed, Technical Environment Artist

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