More Realistic Than Ever Before: An Interview with CLO 3D Design Expert John-Daniel Isacsson on CLO’s latest Substance Integration

A couple of months ago, CLO partnered with Substance by Adobe to integrate 3D texturing technology in the latest release of CLO 6.0, taking true-to-life virtual simulation in 3D apparel design to the next level. Like most of the new features and integrations within CLO, this was one that was highly anticipated by the CLO community, as CLO constantly evolves based on users needs and requests in order to provide the best and most innovative 3D apparel design technology. With this new integration with Substance by Adobe, it is now possible to access Substance’s powerful capabilities directly within the CLO software, allowing to express textures and materials more realistically than ever before. We had the opportunity to interview one of our CLO power users, John-Daniel Isacsson, who is currently working as a 3D Design Expert at H&M in order to find out more  about his background in the industry, his experience with CLO, and his excitement about this groundbreaking integration. All the designs showcased throughout the article have been created by John-Daniel using CLO and the Substance by Adobe integration. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the industry: 

I usually describe myself as a 3D sportswear designer, although my current job title is actually 3D design expert. I’ve got a university degree in fashion design from The Swedish School of Textiles and over the years I have had the pleasure to learn and develop my skill set at companies such as Craft sportswear, Adidas and Patagonia amongst others. I’ve also done a fair deal of freelance photography. In more recent years I have been working at H&M man sport before ending up in the central organization at H&M. I have always had a passion for creating and customizing things, whether it be for functional or aesthetic reasons,  when at the same time being somewhat of an outdoor enthusiast I quickly got into the habit of making clothes at a young age. For me design revolves a lot around  the craftsmanship. Knowing and understanding the ins and outs of a process, a logic or a technique is essential to understand the entirety of a project. This approach to design in combination with my experience, my  curious and nerdy personality traits have over time made me into somewhat of a multi-instrumentalist.

When were you first introduced to CLO?

I’ve been working with CLO professionally since 2017 but I believe my first encounter with CLO was back in 2014 during my time at Adidas. That was when I first started to play around with the software.

What sets CLO apart and how has your experience been with CLO so far?

I think that the ”end to end” architecture of the ecosystem and the user friendliness is what sets CLO apart. It is easy to learn and use, and offers a lot of flexibility and ”horsepower” right at the fingertips of the user.

For me, CLO has been the catalyst that has enabled me to combine my professional expertise and my personal interest which, simply put, has been great. CLO is also a very agile company and their customer focus is very prominent when it comes to feature requests and software development–I think that is a huge bonus.

Were you excited to hear about the Substance integration with CLO?

Yes. For quite a while I have been an  advocate for this integration, pushing this request at any given opportunity. So, when it was announced during CLO fair Munich 2019 I was very excited. This is exactly what I have been waiting for.

How did you get in contact with Adobe Substance prior to the integration?

I was getting into texturing a couple of years ago and found Substance by accident when scrolling Behance. Besides indulging in Substance Academy tutorials I’m self taught in Substance. Once you get the hang of the texture creation flow it is really enjoyable.

How has this integration between the two solutions enabled you to create better design output and how has your design process been elevated through the integration? 

For starters I am now able to harness the full potential of my SBS materials without being limited by bitmap exports. The benefit of applying a material on to a work in progress and being able to change the parameters of the material “on the go” really sets a new standard. In my current workflow this opens up new horizons when it comes to the ease of changing resolution when iterating, similar to the convenience the normal and fitting simulation mode CLO already offers. Furthermore, the ability to set up multi materials with graph instances in substance design is fantastic, each file becomes a library within itself and offers endless possibilities for me as a creator.

What are the main advantages you see from the Substance integration within CLO? 

The main advantage, besides those I have mentioned, are building libraries, asset-creation and setting up pipelines which are much easier with this integration. As a professional designer you can safely consume digital materials without any hassle–everything needed is in one single package. Moreover, the level of photorealism a PBR material from substance has to offer will without a doubt contribute to easier decision-making, and an even smaller need for sample-handling.

By building my materials procedurally, I have full control over all my parameters within each material. I can quickly change the scaling, color, pattern etc. If need be, I can even set up the graph and the exposed parameters so that a single warp thread can have any custom variation applied to it right within CLO.

All the materials used in the projects shown here are custom made to fit my needs. Some of the materials have switches for both the print and the base material and all the prints can easily be regenerated in a different seed or randomized if needed. 

Do you believe that this integration pushes the industry forward?

Undoubtedly. I think that this is a big leap forward for cloth-sim within the fashion and retail industry. I believe that this integration takes us one step closer to the reality of using CGI to create serious product shots on a more regular basis. It also brings together two important and competent softwares making the design-process easier and more realistic than ever before. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for the render engine and the UV editor! 

John-Daniel is one of many talented designers who are thrilled about this integration and who have seen great results. Integrating Substance into CLO optimizes the entire 3D design process by providing true-to-life textures and material visualization technologies that enable the creation of digital designs that are an exact 1:1 representation of the physical end product. This supports designers and creators alike to achieve a seamless digital workflow. To find out more about the Substance integration register for the CLO Virtual Fashion User Summit being held on the 23rd and 24th of February, 2021.

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