Experimenting with HDR Skyboxes in Unity 5.

Unity 5 has implemented a HUGE update on the rendering / graphics side of the engine, introducing new lighting workflows with realtime GI, a Physically Correct Shader (Metallic & Specular workflows supported) among many other things..

I wanted to do an experiment today, where I test out HDR Skybox’s in Unity 5 to see how drastically the lighting and mood of a scene can change.

HDR:

High-Dynamic-Range is an imaging photography technique to produce a higher dynamic range of brightness. This is achieved by capturing different exposures of your chosen subject matter and combining them into one image.

In Unity we can use these HDR images to help blend 3D models into the environment, this can drastically add to the belief that the 3D model is actually in the environment.

Quick mention – I’m using HDR images from NoMotion HDR’s¬†– 150 free HDR images, check EULA before using for commercial usages.

I’ll be showing how these 3 HDR images help create a completely different feel and look to the scene:

I have daytime, evening and night-time HDR’s, they should all create drastically different lighting conditions in Unity.

Time’s up chumps..let’s do this:

Unity 5’s new standard shader has built-in support for image based lighting (IBL), this really helps with the belief that the 3D model is in the environment I am setting with the HDR skybox.

Here’s the model with just Unity 5’s current default procedural skybox:

Default Skybox

With a bit of trickery (not really, just pushing a few buttons in Unity), let’s now see what happens when I add the daytime HDR Skybox:

Daytime Skybox

I haven’t messed with any lights at all, all I have is the default Directional Light in the scene with default settings. looks rather impressive after just adding a new HDR Skybox to the scene.

Let’s try the evening HDR Skybox now:

Evening Skybox

Awesome, I am really enjoying playing around with this, I love how quickly I can completely change the lighting conditions which in turn drastically changes the mood and atmosphere in the scene. I can’t wait to see how games are going to utilize these new features.

Okay, last one, the night-time HDR Skybox, I’m a little skeptical about this one, I’ve no idea how this will look and I imagine it’s not really desirable to use a night-time HDR image. Anyway, let’s see what it looks like:

Nighttime Skybox

Actually turned out rather well, the image doesn’t show the white spots on the model as much as in the editor, these white spots are produced by the specular smoothness on the Standard Shader, i.e the more smooth I make it the more white spot artifacts are produced, not sure why this is more present in the night-time scene, I’m sure there’s a setting I’ve missed or something..

Overall, I’m really impressed with this, especially how quickly I can change the mood and lighting of the scene and the visual output from Unity 5’s new rendering / graphics update.

Look forward to seeing what you all produce with Unity 5. ūüôā

Modelling a Sports Stadium

Rugby Skills Challenge 2013

I’ve had a great month and half or so developing a 3d model and beta testing on a recently released iOS title by game developer Russ Morris.

We got talking about his Rugby game at the Unity UK¬†Christmas party and Russ mentioned about needing a Stadium model for his game, naturally I said “hey, I’ll give it a go” and after a lengthy conversation in which¬†I¬†actually remember the day after, I¬†nagged him for a bit to send over the details, thankfully Russ obliged and the creative development began.

So I wanted to blog about the development of the stadium model and some of the techniques I used, trying to keep it as low poly as possible for mobile development.

Starting point:

My starting point is the centre piece, the field of play, I needed to research the typical dimensions for a Rugby pitch. Modelling the basic¬†rectangular¬†shape then expanding out from there, having the focus point in place gave me a good start in terms of thinking and planning the architecture of the model. Using reference images taken from Cardiff’s¬†Millennium¬†stadium and the Aviva stadium in Ireland, the important thing was to ensure the shape and¬†architecture¬†of the model was directed at the main focus point (the field).

Pitch

The design is to have the curved corners in the tiers, so the stadium is a full oval curved shape like most modern day stadiums have. From here I started building up the second tier and adding some basic roof structure just to get an idea and feel for the model.

Adding details:

I quickly moved on to adding details to the tiers, adding steps and entrance points for isles, the challenging area was creating the corner tiers, I used the technique of extruding and rotating each time by hand, but I could of used the bridge tool and add the correct amount of segments, then reposition each set of poly’s, either technique would of worked fine.

Adding Detail

I finished the lower tier, so I had a fully completed lower tier with steps and isle details added, the good thing is, for the top tier, I can duplicate the lower tier and make adjustments to the positions of some poly’s and up scale when needed, no need to fully model the top tier from the start again. Here’s both tiers fully completed:

Fully completed stands.

I needed to close the gaps up and model some outer geometry, I modelled a bunch of cubes and joined the verts together at each adjacent point, It was just about getting the right positions and joining the correct verts together.

Creating the roof:

The roof structure design is to be based on the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, the corners needed to have gaps, the support structures needed to be added as well.

The Millennium Stadium
Adding roof structure
Support structure

Combining all this together gives me something nearly complete, all the rest of the tweaks were added by Russ in the game project, such as texturing and advertising boards etc.. Here’s the final model in Modo:

Rugby Stadium

Download and install the game now, you can download it by searching for Rugby Skills Challenge 2013 on the app store or by clicking the image below which redirects you to the app store:

appstoreThanks!