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“Games have become a place to immerse ourselves in worlds and a way to be a part of a community when we’re sheltering at home.”

– Nathaniel Bell, Insomniac Games, GDC Showcase Unity keynote


GDC (Game Developers Conference) Showcase 2021 is happening this week, and the excitement rippling through Unity employees and our global community is palpable. Games have always brought us together and this past year has been no exception: Games are now more critical than ever. To celebrate this free GDC event, we want to give back to our community, so we’re offering ArtEngine at a massive discount to empower anyone who wants to create. 

ArtEngine is an assisted creation tool that uses AI to remove time-consuming and repetitive material creation tasks so graphics teams can focus on producing new work. To date, the ArtEngine team has been taking on workflows with AAA customers. As the tool continues to evolve, we want more people to have access to it – this is just the first step. 

Assisted creation and scanning have not always been associated with one other, and workflows have been considered hard to achieve. As part of the GDC Showcase Keynote, we sat down with Nathaniel Bell, currently a principal technical artist at Insomniac Games, based in their North Carolina studio. Nathaniel has been part of Insomniac Games for over 15 years and has developed games for multiple generations of consoles, VR and mixed reality platforms. Nathaniel has held numerous positions at Insomniac across the development spectrum: environment artist, UI artist, lead artist, creative director, and now technical artist. Nathaniel’s primary aim is to create innovations and technology that keep breaking new ground. At the keynote, Nathaniel discussed Insomniac’s new scanning workflow, the Upres 2.0 launch and the future of content creation. Nathaniel notes how Insomniac is using ArtEngine for their new scan-based workflow, with the AI saving 50% to 70% of their time. 

Watch the keynote here.


What’s new with ArtEngine?

Version 2021.3

Upres 2.0

Coming in hot: Upres 2.0 launch on March 16 

Looking to remaster old content? ArtEngine can help. Upres 2.0 enables you to take old, outdated assets and elevate them to meet today’s standards. This helps you future proof your content so that it still looks amazing on the next generation of platforms and consoles. 

Why did we update our upres functionality? We weren’t really a fan of the motto “out with the old, in with the new” when it comes to your materials. That’s why we worked with Insomniac Games to release a feature they have called “the best remastering tool on the market.” 


Scanning made simpler: Use ArtEngine to create a seamless digital material replica, whether you’re working on a fabric or forest floor.

Generating the perfect PBR material from your scanned objects is one of the primary use cases for ArtEngine right now – and this process just got a lot easier with the updates released in 2021.3.1. 

Take advantage of GDC promotional pricing and try creating your first material today. You can get started by simply taking a photo on your mobile phone and importing it into ArtEngine, where the Albedo and Normal generation nodes will give you your first maps. Or if you have a more professional setup, you can import four or eight images of the same surface with different light sources, and feed them into the Multi Angle to Texture node to get the best results.

You can also use the Color Match node to match Albedo values to other sets of scans to create consistency in color casts during capture. 

Some perfectly tiled fabrics from scans passed through the Multi Angle to Texture node

Make your texture tileable. For game assets, product visualization, or anything in between, make sure your maps can be used on any 3D model, no matter what size the geometry. ArtEngine uses AI to remove seams in seconds along the image’s edges with the Seam Removal nodes. This usually takes hours of artists’ valuable time in other image editing tools. 

Of course, this isn’t the whole solution,, as your texture may still have repetitive patterns when tiled. That’s where the
Mutation and Content-Aware nodes come in. Using AI once again, ArtEngine will tile your texture and create random mutations so you can tile your asset to any size.



Then, it’s time to build your surface. Once you’ve got your tileable texture, you’ll want to add all the other maps that make your asset lifelike on 3D surfaces. Our Height, Roughness, Specular and Metallic Value and Ambient Occlusion nodes all generate maps to give your PBR material values to react perfectly under any lighting conditions, as well as the optimal volume to add depth to your geometry.

A node graph building out a seamless tiled texture with Albedo, Normals, Height, Roughness and Ambient Occlusion maps all from a single image input



Get ArtEngine GDC Promotion


If you have any feedback for us, or are interested in having your artwork featured, please drop us a line at, on our Discord channel or the Unity Forum.

Artist attributions: Alix Coleno, Tudor Bodeanu and Victor Kam

The following is intended for informational purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. No purchasing decisions should be made based on the following materials. Unity is not committing to deliver any functionality, features or code. The development, timing and release of all products, functionality and features are at the sole discretion of Unity, and are subject to change.

10 replies on “Insomniac Games and assisted creation”

Like like a great product. Possibly worth the price but I can guarantee I’ll never pay 95 usd/month for it. (The price after the promotion). It would be quite interesting though.

Am I reading this wrong or $19 a month only gets you the Unity importer for the ArtEngine? So basically this means paying $19 a month to realize you need to pay $333 a month to actually do something with the purchase. That’s a pretty shady offering.

Hi Alexandre,
Thank you for the question. You get the full standalone tool for $19 and the importer is also part of that.
The $333 is for the Studio price point which includes offline support, Batching, an SDK, and other features for creating at scale.
Nothing shady going on here, don’t worry 🙌🏼

That comparison video isn’t really great, is it? It constantly shows off how it doesn’t seem to be well trained on a variety of materials or potential image issues. For instance, on the shot of those buildings in (I think) Italy, you can see a clear moire effect on the wooden blinds, an effect that the image processing only seems to emphasize. Similarly, on the wood planks, you can see how much noise it’s adding to the image in an attempt to find detail, while only the most poorly cut wood would ever look so grainy. On top of that, there’s lots of noise in areas where colours and values are transitioning, like it can’t seem to detect edges to a particularly great degree.

ArtEngine was already a pretty awkward value proposition with how much it costs on top of a Unity license for smaller developers, but looking at those results, I wonder about the practical application compared to other options on the market, even FOSS AI tools.

Hi Fauna,
Thanks for your comment. Always appreciate people chiming in to give their views. The images we used for the comparison video were pretty low resolution, approximately 256 pixel. That’s not too much information to get the very best upres. If you were to add an image like 1024 pixel, for example, you will get better results.
With regards to comparing the upres functionality to other open-source tools, I would invite you to try ArtEngine and other open-source tools, and see which works best for you. Everyone has preferences, no matter the tool or workflow, and I am always super interested to hear everyone’s. In the GDC keynote, Insomniac Games notes ArtEngine as “the best remastering tool on the market”, so if you are not getting good results with ArtEngine, I would love to work with you to see how we can help get you there.
ArtEngine currently has a GDC discount – and a 30-day trial. It would be great to hear your thoughts on ArtEngine, after using it:
Thanks again.

Also worth noting that you don’t need to buy Unity pro to buy ArtEngine now. It’s totally standalone. So it’s just $19 a month for the year at it’s current price point.

If you’re making use of ArtEngine features, you’re probably working at a capacity where you’ll either need the license due to internal revenue, or you’ll be paying for a license so you don’t have a splash screen. The people using Unity Free and also buying ArtEngine are going to be pretty slim in numbers I’d wager.

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