As the title says, I'm quite confused about why I should master Cycles' material nodes if I can yield equally good results in Substance Painter? In Cycles, to create a photorealistic material, we must understand what it looks like in real life in terms of light reflection/refraction/etc. But in Substance Painter, everything we need to do is to drag and drop? Do I understand it correctly? Suppose you are a decent Substance Painter specialist, do you need to learn Cycles' material nodes?

Thank you!

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    $\begingroup$ One of the main reasons would be that not everyone can afford to pay for a commercial product like Substance Painter. You would still need to learn how to use Cycles nodes to create materials even when you're an expert at using Substance Painter, however you wouldn't need to deal with procedural texture generation. $\endgroup$
    – Robert Gützkow
    Sep 3, 2019 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


There is no way to answer this question with a 'yes' based on facts. You do not need to master anything, but you might want to learn to use the nodes in order to make your life easier. Cycles nodes are for material creation in Cycles so no matter how you make your textures, if you use Cycles you might want to learn its functionality. Nodes can be useful for many reasons not related to the look of a material directly as well - you can manipulate texture coordinates for example or randomize material attributes or control them based on objects position or surface direction and so on. It's just useful, not so much necessary if you only use Principled BSDF shaders.

My advice(opinion): The word 'master' sounds intimidating, but in reality, you just need to learn what the nodes do. Just go through the add menu and figure out what each one does and think of how you can use them and that will get you started. There are like 80 or so of them, but they are in categories so it's not that hard. If you decide to go on an see a few tutorials on how to make some procedural textures and learn how to manipulate coordinates with math you are already an 'advanced' user.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your input, Martin. I apologize for using such an intimidating word, but I have reasons for it. I'm trying to dig as deeply as possible into the material nodes, using the in-depth book Cycles Encyclopedia. $\endgroup$
    – LOTR_7193
    Sep 3, 2019 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ No problem for me. I would just like to encourage you to try to see the nodes and learning them as less intimidating and easier thing to do. I don't think learning them is a really huge deal(relatively). I don't think you absolutely need to read an encyclopedia to master them. It will definitely help though - I have no doubt. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2019 at 8:43

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