Hi there, I'm new to SD/SP and, like a good little learner, tackled the "Getting to Know Substance Designer" tutorial series. First, the series is outdated, I think the guy is using Substance 2018 but that shouldn't be much of an issue. Next, I working on a Mac (i9, 64GB, Radeon Pro Vega 48 8GB, SSD, Monterey 12.0.1) and literally just went through the process of wiping my drive and starting back from a clean install of the OS and reinstall of the apps I work with, including the Substance Suite (Designer, Painter, Sampler, Stager).
Issue: Following along with the tutorial I get to a point where it's time to eat. So I "Save All" on the .sbs project file and go grab dinner. I come back and in the 3D view, my texture that was displaying all the nooks and crannies of the texture, is now flat. I think, "Oh, memory cache is getting full, reboot my machine and everything will go back to what it was." Right? Nope.
I reboot my machine, restart Designer, click to open the file I had been working on. The app window opens up in this tiny little square in the top left corner. I stretch it out to fill my screen, reorganize my nodes, change the default cube to a hi-rez plane and right-click to "View in 3D Viewer". Flat.
I have not changed any of the settings for the texture I was creating other than to disconnect the "twig" created. I tried both the Open-GL and IRay renderer, still flat. The 2D viewer shows all the height data but this is not translating to the 3D view. I've read a few posts here and followed what was advised (Close the 3D Viewer>Click Empty Space in Graph>Select View in 3D Viewer), no luck. [See attached screenshots to see what I mean]
The texture I'm making is to be imported into Houdini 18.5 and/or 19.0 to be utilized on a terrain I'm working on.
First, I thank you for your thoughtfully detailed message.
The Plane mesh in the 3D view is flat because the shader's Height scale property is set to 0.
The deformation effect applied to the mesh driven by the Height map is called tessellation displacement. This technique subdivides the mesh to add vertices to support finer volume detail (tessellation) then moves the vertices along the direction of their normal (displacement). A vertex normal is a vector of length 1 which points in the direction the surface of the mesh is facing at the vertex location.
In the 3D View, tessellation displacement is controlled by two values:
the value of the Height map set in the graph. The height map is applied from the graph to the 3D view by connecting a grayscale node to a Height output, or by right-clicking a grayscale node and selecting the View in 3D view > height option
the value of the Height scale property set in the shader (or in the graph, see below). To access the shader properties, open the Materials menu in the 3D view panel and select the Default > Edit option
In simple terms, the final displacement value is Height map * Height scale. You can learn more about tessellation displacement in this thread from our old forum.
In the tutorial you are following the author sets the Height scale property starting at the 11:55 mark in this part of the tutorial. In the tutorial this value was set in a way which is not saved across sessions, and that may be why the Plane was flat when you got back to your project: the Height scale value was reverted to its default value of 0.
Here are a few ways to prevent this from occurring:
Setting up the Height scale value on each session, which is inconvenient.
Setting up the Height scale value once, then using the Save current Scene as default option in the Scene menu of the 3D View so that the current settings of the 3D View are remembered for all future projects.
Setting up an Output node in the graph with the heightscale usage, passing it the desired value for the Height scale value, then using the View outputs in 3D view option in the graph's contextual menu (right-click on the graph background to open it). This method lets you apply a different Height scale values per graph.