Again.... I am a programmer and not a graphic designer. I found blogging about this stuff helps me to learn it myself. So I am trying to explain this from a non graphic design background.
I bought Substance Designer 5 Indie version on the Steam summer sale. But before I bought it I tried to find out what exactly it could do for me.
Here is the marketing version:
It is a node-based texture compositing tool that allows you to create Substance files or bitmap textures. You can use it to texture assets and also bake model information.
Ok, my attempt to elaborate:
It is node-based (build your texture block by block where each block is a filter, algorithm, etc).
You can export your creations to bitmap files(png, tiff, jpg, psd, etc) to use in games or whatever.
Main thing is your substance files. This is a file which holds all of the nodes and settings you created in one file which can be used in other applications or engines. Mainly in my case Unity3d.
I can now change values or settings that I have exposed(setup or created) from within substance designer. For example I created a Brick_Amount value that changes the Number Y value in the Tile_Generator node.
Here is a closeup of a group of nodes which is used to create the basic texture and color to start with. I use a Black and White Spots Generator and then put it through a Noise Upscale filter to add more detail to the spots. I then split it into 2 gradient map filters/nodes and blend them together again using a mask(filter/changes only certain areas, like here where there is only white) the clouds generator at the bottom. I used a levels node to drop the white intensity of the clouds so only parts of the textures will get blended.
Here is another screenshot to demonstrate some of the nodes, generators, filters, etc. which you can use.
As a programmer I am very happy to see some basic coding functionality. For example here I divide the brick amount(Tile Generator - Number Y) set either from Unity or within Substance by 2 and put that value into Tile Generator - Number X. It helps keep the bricks or tiles in a rectangle shape instead of squares.