Lighting, Fog, and Skyboxes

265 days ago by ARC3DE

Welcome back to ARC3DE. In this video we’ll cover lighting, fog, and skyboxes as these items greatly impact the visual mood of your scene. Bright and open, dark and isolated, the lighting of your scene and the skybox play a key role in the player’s first impression of it.

Let’s start with the Skybox. There are three types of skyboxes available in ARC3DE: 6-sided, procedural, and gradient. 6-sided are texture based using an inward facing cube - or skybox. Let’s import some skyboxes now. Select Import from the File Menu and select Material as 6-sided skyboxes are materials. Select the Skybox folder and click the “More” button to see more skyboxes. Click a skybox to apply it to your scene. Easy! The ARC3DE asset library has several skyboxes to choose from. You can rotate your camera to see more sides of the skybox selected. In addition the 6-sided skybox has shader variables to alter the skybox like the tint or rotation. Let’s play with those now.

Now let’s setup the scene to use a procedural skybox. These skyboxes are made by changing the shader of the Skybox material. To setup your scene to use a procedural skybox we’ll need to select the skybox material of your scene. Open the Lighting menu from the File Menu’s Window option. Next select the Skybox material to inspect it. In the Inspector change the shader of the material from 6-sided to procedural like shown. Your skybox is now procedural. This new material will show the options available for this shader. Let’s change some of these variables to see how they work.

Finally let's try the gradient skybox. Select the skybox in the lighting menu. Then in the inspector change the shader of the skybox to Skybox/Gradient. This gradient allows you to specify three colors for the top, horizon, and bottom of the skyline. Change the colors to the Power variable to see how this shader works.

Now let’s update the lighting in your scene to better compliment the new skybox. There are two dimensions of lighting that will impact your scene: ambient and diffuse. Ambient lighting is scattered lighting coming from all directions. Diffuse lighting is directional generally modelling the sun.

Let’s start with the diffuse lighting which is driven by the light in your scene. Goto the Hierarchy panel and select the light gameobject. It’s usually near the top of the hierarchy as it’s one of a handful of required GameObject in the scene. With the light selected you’ll be able to access the light’s variables like diffuse color and more. You can rotate the light by selecting the rotate gizmo or by using the “2” hotkey. Now rotate the light to see how the lighting in the scene changes. There’s also options to change shadows in the scene as well. Let’s experiment with some of the shadow options too.

Let’s move onto more lighting options. Open the Lighting menu from the File Menu. Here you’ll find a number of lighting options to change. Select the ambient color and change it between light and dark values to see how it works. Warm scenes generally tint slightly in the red spectrum and cold scenes or night scenes generally tint more blue.

Great! Now let’s move onto Fog. A slight fog is a great way to convey depth to your scene as objects at a distance will shade differently than objects near the camera. ARC3DE uses linear fog. Experiment with these options to apply a desirable fog for this scene. The color picker has a sample mode that allows you to pick a color from the scene itself. Pick a color from your skybox to match your fog color to it. Now objects at a distance will tint with the environment in a more convincing way and give your scene more appeal.

That’s it! You’ve learned about skyboxes, lighting and fog. You are now a better level designer giving your scenes mood and personality. Be sure to check out other videos to learn more on creating great scenes at ARC3DE. As always, happy gaming!