Create stunning visuals with Unity lighting
From Global Illumination (GI) to high-quality shadows, Unity offers techniques that simulate the intricate behavior of light and materials in your 3D worlds.
Enjoy the flexibility of real-time or precomputed (baked) lighting, or even combine both to achieve optimal performance and visual quality across all platforms.
Unity lighting features range from industry-standard light types to advanced volumetric effects for clouds and fog, as well as reflections and ray tracing.
Powerful lights and shadows
Unity offers a variety of light sources, such as Directional, Spot, Point, and Area lights, that can produce realistic, real-time shadows.
Additionally, the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) and High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) offer physically accurate lighting attenuation that matches real-world light behaviors.
HDRP supports industry-standard Physical Light Units (PLU) such as Lux, Lumen, and EV for the entire lighting and exposure pipeline, enabling both beginners and professionals to light scenes in a more consistent manner.
Unity’s hybrid ray tracing in HDRP helps to refine your project’s realism. Harness incredible levels of shadowing quality to create tinted and semi-transparent shadows for translucent objects.
Dynamic Global Illumination
A convincing Global Illumination (GI) solution is at the heart of every believable 3D render. Unity’s Progressive Lightmapper (CPU & GPU) helps you simulate the diffuse light bouncing off static surfaces and baking the results into lightmaps and Light Probes.
Unity offers a Realtime GI solution using Enlighten to ensure that real-time lights can also produce convincing light bounces while also allowing for runtime modifications of lights and materials.
For real-time GI without any precomputation, look into HDRP’s ray-tracing capabilities, which take advantage of the latest GPUs. Ray-Traced Global Illumination and Ray-Traced Ambient Occlusion provide better results compared to their screen space counterparts.
Accurate environment reflections
In order to capture and project reflections onto the environment, Unity relies on several techniques. The most common for real-time applications are Reflection Probes, which harness image-based lighting.
HDRP offers Planar Reflection Probes, which are particularly well-suited to simulating real-time reflections on flat surfaces such as mirrors and water planes. Another technique called Screen Space Reflections (SSR) relies on the data available in the frame to simulate reflections more accurately than Reflection Probes in certain scenarios, particularly for surfaces parallel to the camera such as floors and walls.
Ray-Traced Reflections can push realism even further in dynamic scenarios that cannot rely primarily on precomputed reflections and screen space techniques.
Want to create beautiful sunsets, ominous clouds, or dense mist? Unity supports multiple types of sky, from the simpler gradient and HDRI skies used for static skies, to physically based procedural skies that can simulate different times of day.
Volumetric Clouds* can help you increase the dynamism of your skies to create jaw-dropping weather conditions, from awe-inspiring sunrises to stormy afternoons.
To increase the perception of depth in your scene and produce denser atmosphere, you can use the traditional Fog available in all render pipelines or push the immersion further with the more advanced global Volumetric Fog and Local Volumetric Fog available in HDRP.
* Currently available in HDRP only
Unity provides professional color grading tools to let you easily express your creative freedom, from simple color filters and contrast adjustments to externally generated LUT (Look up tables).
You can simulate more advanced camera and film effects such as Depth of Field, Vignette, Motion Blur, and Film Grain. These techniques can produce a more cinematic look that mimics the artefacts of lenses and film.
The HDRP and URP feature their own post-processing systems, whereas the Built-In Render Pipeline relies on the Post Processing Stack v2 package.
New lighting resources
The definitive guide to lighting in HDRP
HDRP in Unity 2020 LTS brings you tools for creating evocative, high-end lighting in your games. This in-depth guide shows you how to harness the power of lighting in HDRP.
What’s new for artists in 2021.2
Discover new features and improvements dedicated to help artists and designers optimize creative workflows and produce powerful, immersive experiences.
Unity’s guide for technical artists
The ultimate guide to the toolsets and workflows that will empower you to achieve powerful visual game creation with Unity.
Unity Asset Store lighting solutions
Magic Light Probe
Magic Light Probes can greatly improve your productivity by speeding up the placement of Light Probes in your scene to achieve optimum indirect lighting for your dynamic objects.
Bakery – GPU Lightmapper
Bakery is a production-ready GPU lightmapper that takes advantage of Nvidia GPUs. It offers high level rendering quality, baking speed and flexibility, for fast paced iteration.
Enviro – Sky and Weather
Enviro is a complete solution for creating dynamic lighting scenarios. Create custom fog, clouds, sky, and volumetric lighting, and quickly tailor the lighting to your needs.
Magic Lightmap Switcher
Magic Lightmap Switcher lets you interpolate between Lightmaps, Light probes and Reflection Probes at runtime to create dynamic lighting scenarios using baked lighting data.