A handy guide for artists working in game development

8 art and texturing tools for games

Artistic creativity comes from the artist themselves, but they still need the right tools to help with the job at hand, so Develop has rounded up a list of eight texturing tools to bring your game world to life.

Know a great tool that isn’t on the list? Tell us your recommendations on Twitter,Facebook or LinkedIn and we’ll add them to the list to create a more comprehensive one-stop guide for artists.


Company: Graphine

The Granite SDK can be used for texture streaming and virtual texturing in 3D games and can be integrated with any 3D engine, such as the available Unity and Unreal Engine plugins.

Used in titles such as The Farm 51’s upcoming sci-fi title Get Even, the middleware is designed to minimise memory usage, storage size and loading times, while also enabling the use of large amounts of texture data.
The tool was named one of the top tech in games in the Develop 100 Tech List.

Substance Designer 4

Company: Allegorithmic

Image credit: Christophe Desse and Olivier Couston

Now in its fourth iteration, Substance Designer is a node-based texturing tool that helps developers create Substance files or bitmap textures. New features to the latest version include fresh GPU-accelerated baking, a new noise generator and hundreds of revised editing tools and filters.

The tool also has new physical-based rendering and shading abilities, a technique that more accurately represents the way light behaves when it hits an object in the real world.

Substance Painter

Company: Allegorithmic

Image credit: Francisco Gutierrez

Another texturing tool from Allegorithmic is the new Substance Painter 1.0. The 3D painting app is designed to make the creation of textures for 3D assets easier, and features support for 4K high-definition and custom shaders, as well as allowing developers to add age, decay and fractures to textures for both 2D and 4D objects.

The tool also includes a customised version of Popcorn FX’s particle editor and a new user interface.


Company: Adobe

Adobe’s Photoshop has long been the standard tool for many artists with its vast array of features making it a flexible tool for editing art. One of its many uses is creating textures that can be used in games, such as through layer styles, filters and the brush tool.

One of the latest features to Photoshop is the Creative Cloud Library, through which users save their projects on the cloud, and then pick it up again from another desktop or mobile device.


Company: Pixologic

Zbrush is a sculpting and painting program that can be used for games. The built-in PolyPaint tech meanwhile is designed to mimic the painting of real objects in the digital space, and can be done without first assigning a texture map. This means a texture map can be created at a later time, and the painted surface can then be transferred to the map.

Texture resolution also need not be decided in advance, as existing surface painting can be moved to a larger map if plans change.


Company: The Foundry

The Mari 3D paint tool lets artists paint directly onto 3D models, and can support textures of up to 32K x 32K pixels and thousands of textures per model across different channels. Features include a UV-less workflow (PTEX) that lets users adjust texture size on a per-face level, and masked filters for colour correction, noise and masked blend constant colour.

The tool has been used in a number of games including LucasArts’ now cancelled but still impressive looking Star Wars 1313 title.


Company: Autodesk

Autodesk’s Mudbox is a 3D sculpting and texture painting toolset used for all different types of games to create 3D characters, environments, props and concept designs. Features include tools for symmetrical retopologising, support for Intel HD graphics 4000 and a caliper tool for proportional measurement.

A free trial is available for devs on Windows and Mac to test out the software, while students can get the tool free for three years.


Company: Andrew Shpagin

3D-Coat offers a series of tools for the modelling process, including voxel sculpting, UV mapping and CUDA acceleration. It also offers cross-platform support for Windows, Mac and Linux and comes in eight different languages.

Ptex support, meanwhile, means artists can create textures without UV unwrapping, and its per pixel painting approach allows layered colour and displacement painting over low-poly and high-poly meshes without geometry distortion.

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