Subway Wall Tiles in Quixel Mixer 2020

Kyle Smyth
3 min readJun 13, 2020
The finished product. Know how to make material renders look nice? Please let me know!

I’m working on an abandoned subway terminal scene called “Undergrowth” and I needed a great wall material for a backdrop. Here’s how I made one in Mixer 2020.

I have to say that I relied heavily on Josh Power’s tutorial “Create Grungy Tiles in Mixer 5” to create this material. Its a fantastic 5 minute tutorial that got me super comfortable working with layers and masks.

It’s taken me a few attempts to get comfortable working in Quixel Mixer 2020. All of my previous materials were outdoor/nature based and I couldn’t get anything near looking realistic.

For the “Undergrowth” project, I am building an abandoned subway station and I needed a wall tile to put up on the back wall. Dealing with classic geometry like squares and lines was a lot easier than organic shapes.

I first tried applying a base white swimming pool tile texture to a wall bsp and quickly realized how boring it was. The tiling was predictable, it was flat, and far too clean.

Going through Josh’s tutorial I realized how important it was to sweat the small stuff. The details. Masking away a tile here and there and painting plaster splotches where they used to be. Or raising/lowering and tilting individual tiles to break up the predictability.

Creating imperfections makes things come alive. Because our world is imperfect.


  1. Base layer is Damaged Concrete
  2. Next is a tactile sidewalk texture repeated 4x4. This gives the appearance of a grout pattern. Props to Josh on this one.
  3. On top of that is wall plaster painted with a splotchy brush where tiles would be removed.
  4. Then we’ve got the main attraction raised up a bit and sitting on the plaster. Old Swimming Pool Tiles. 4.1. A few of the tiles are masked out.
  5. The same swimming pool tile texture duplicated, with the albedo changed to a black and then masked to look like a strip of black paint.
  6. Painted Cracked Concrete Wall is used with the Damaged Concrete again to give some surface blemishes.
  7. I struggled the most with the “dirt” layer. I wanted to create something similar to the reference photos, where it looks like exhaust or soot powder is bound to the tiles. I ended up going with a solid black layer with a perlin noise mask. This could be improved.
  8. Finally I made two displacement layers (one for up, the other for down) to push some tiles in and out randomly. On the tiles I pushed in, I masked out the dirt layer.

Next Steps

  • Figure out how to make a really pretty material render. I see a people using Marmoset Toolbag 3, but I don’t quite want to pay for a license yet. Blender maybe?
  • Improve the dirt layer
  • Include the material in the Undergrowth project.

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Kyle Smyth

CTO and Co-founder of Offstreet. We simplify the management of parking lots.