Unity Fundamentals — 3D Environment and Lighting Overview

Unity is an excellent engine for developing 3D games providing lots of features, including materials and lighting systems.

Materials

Unity allows you to create materials that you can apply to game objects to change their appearance. Materials can be as simple as a single colour to a complex texture like wood grain. The choice is yours.

By default, any material that you create will have a Standard Shader, but you also have access to more advanced shaders under the following categories

  • FX: for glass and lighting effects.
  • GUI and UI: For user interface graphics.
  • Mobile: Simplified high-performance shader for mobile devices.
  • Nature: For trees and terrain.
  • Particles: Particle system effects.
  • Skybox: For background environments
  • Sprites: For 2D sprites
  • Unlit: For rendering that entirely bypasses all light & shadowing
  • Legacy: The extensive collection of older shaders which the Standard Shader superseded

Details of each of these shader categories and their actual shaders are beyond the scope of this article. Find out more. Depending on the selected shader, you will have many different options. Explore them to make your game look fantastic.

Lighting

Unity has many different ways of introducing lighting into your games. It uses detailed models to give you realistic results or simplified ones for a different result.

Consider lighting as either ‘realtime’ or ‘precomputed’ in some way or combined to create immersive scene lighting.

Within Unity, you have the option to select from light components, emissive materials and ambient light. For more information, see.

In the next article, I will cover skyboxes and how to use them to establish a scene.

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Jose Gil

Jose Gil

Unity Developer at Mooski Games