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Ghosted by Substance


Recently, I upgraded my substance designer license on one of my older computers. Everything seemed to go smoothly, until I realized that nearly all of my old graphs were loading in with "Ghost Nodes" . " Ghost nodes are placeholders for whatever node that substance can't find. They don't seem like that big of a deal but when you have a ghost node in your graph, it can seriously screw up your output results.

For the most part, replacing Ghost nodes in Substance is a breeze, you open up your graph  and get a prompt from Substance telling you that it could not find "the" node and asking you if you'd like to pull it from a new location. When you have a realtively small graph and only a few Ghost nodes, this method works well enough. For larger graphs however, this task can become quite repetitive, because you have to load in the reference graph for every individual ghosted node, even if you fixed the reference to the same exact node earlier. ( I.e- Substance will detect a ghost node "ramp" and ask you to designate a new location. It moves onto the next ghost node which is also "ramp" and you have to find and save the same reference location for the second node which for all intents and purposes, is exactly the same node.  )

My ghost node problem was rampant. I upgraded my license from Substance 5 to substance 2017. From what I can tell, my original substance 5 install had a folder called Substance Designer 5 where-in it put all the references. But the new Substance Designer  2017 looks for references in the Substance Designer Folder. I had a massive referencing issue on my hands. All of the nodes were located somewhere else, and I wasn't going to go through all of my graphs made with Substance 5 ( a significant sum) and manually reload every node for each one. By the time I'd get it manually done, I'd probably be some fossil set on display at a museum.

Instead, I found out that I could open my substance files inside of a text editor and easily search and replace the paths for all the nodes that were "ghosted" .


  • Open your graph in the text editor. 
  • Search and replace the bad path for with the good path.
  • Save your document ( as a copy, just in case.) 
  • Reopen the graph in substance and all of your reference nodes should no longer be ghosts!


1.) Find the location of all of your resource graphs and copy this path to your clipboard. ( If you are using 2017 , the path is most likely located here: \Program Files\Allegorithmic\Substance Designer\resources\packages.

2.) Open your substance graph inside a text editor ( Right Click on the file > Edit With > "Your Text editor )

3.) In your text editor, highlight the old path that is giving you ghosting issues, and use search and replace to find all the bad paths.If you are using Notepad ++ , open the finder with CNTRL +F.

4.)In the "replace with:" entry, paste the path to all of your resource paths that was copied in Step 1. After that, Hit Replace All.

5.) Save your graph. ( Save it as a copy, in case the path was copied poorly, and to insure you don't loose your work. )

6.) Open your working graph in substance and continue creating!


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