Unity Tech Art: Realistic Lighting For Game Development
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Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
5,298 students enrolled

Unity Tech Art: Realistic Lighting For Game Development

Learn AAA cinematic tech art techniques in the Unity game engine (Global Illumination and Shader Graph)
Highest Rated
4.7 (633 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
5,298 students enrolled
Last updated 6/2020
English [Auto]
Current price: $65.99 Original price: $94.99 Discount: 31% off
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This course includes
  • 10.5 hours on-demand video
  • 3 articles
  • 42 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Complete A to Z of lighting in Unity
  • Enhance your 3D game worlds with clever lighting strategies
  • Build fast and efficient lighting setups for early prototyping of games
  • Build complex lighting setups with direct lighting and global illumination
  • Customize stock or Asset Store assets through lighting
  • Create dramatic cinematic atmosphere using lighting
  • Creating shader effects using the visual ShaderGraph editor
Course content
Expand all 62 lectures 10:42:06
+ Introduction
4 lectures 15:41

Welcome to the course!

Video ID: 1_IN_TAR

Preview 02:06

Let's review the best practices for taking this online course.

Video ID: 2_IN_TAR

Preview 06:57

Download the the LightingBasics project for completing Sections 2-4.

Lighting Basics Project

You can use the Unity Hub to install and launch multiple Unity versions.

Video ID: 4_IN_TAR

Unity Versions
+ Direct Lighting
10 lectures 01:34:01

Let's explore how Lighting can impact your Unity scenes and make your 3d application more polished and professional.

Video ID: 1_DL_TAR

Preview 02:46

Directional lights can vary by intensity and angle to create the effect of an infinitely distant light source like the sun.

Video ID: 2_DL_TAR

Preview 13:13

Shadows can be created by a process known as Shadowmapping.  Here we learn how to adjust the various shadow parameters in Unity.

Video ID: 3_DL_TAR

Preview 10:25

In this lesson, we setup a sample scene using point lights, which cast light in all directions from a single point in space.

Video ID: 4_DL_TAR

Point Lights

Here we look at our next basic light type, the spotlight.  In addition to Range, we can control this light's Spot Angle.



We can attach a light cookie or gobo to cut a pattern out of various realtime spotlights.


Light Cookies

Three-point lighting has been around since cinematography has existed.  Let's see how to set up key lights, fill lights and backlights in Unity.


Three-Point Lighting

The Light Explorer dialog can assist you with troubleshooting your light setup.


Light Explorer


Section 2 Instructor Hangout

Direct Lighting Quiz

Check Your Understanding (Direct Lighting)
7 questions

You've covered the basics of direct lighting.  Let's recap what we've learned.


Section 2 Conclusion
+ Global Illumination
13 lectures 02:18:24

Let's make our rendering more realistic with Global Illumination.  In this introductory video, we discuss how GI techniques can improve your scene lighting.

Video ID: 1_GI_TAR

Introduction to Global Illumination

In our first example of Global Illumination, we look at the Enlighten engine and how it is integrated with Unity.

Video ID: 2_GI_TAR

Realtime Global Illumination

Let's tweak some of the Enlighten engine's settings to control the light baking process.

Video ID: 3_GI_TAR

Realtime GI Settings

This blog entry describes Unity's future development with Realtime Global Illumination.

Unity and Enlighten

Here we switch from Enlighten to using Unity's built-in light baking system for improved shadow quality.

Video ID: 4_GI_TAR

Baked Global Illumination

Improve your interactive light baking with Unity's Progressive Lightmapper.

Video ID: 5_GI_TAR

Progressive Lightmapper

Environment lighting helps simulate general ambient bounced lighting.

Video ID: 6_GI_TAR

Environment Lighting

We can replace the basic environmental ambient light with a gradient representing the ground, horizon and sky.

Video ID: 7_GI_TAR

Procedural Skyboxes

In this video, we swap our procedural skybox for an HDRI panorama for even more accurate environment lighting.

Video ID: 8_GI_TAR

Image-based Lighting

Learn about this shading technique to boost the contrast in your model geometry.

Video ID: 9_GI_TAR

Ambient Occlusion

Here we explore how to generate a reflection of our environment in a shiny, metallic surface.

Video ID: 11_GI_TAR

Environment Reflections


Section 3 Instructor Hangout


Section 3 Conclusion

Test your knowledge about Global Illumination topics.

Check Your Understanding (Global Illumination)
8 questions
+ Sci-Fi Corridor
15 lectures 02:53:34


Sci-Fi Corridor Introduction

In this lesson, we create an area light, useful for casting a uniform light from a rectangular surface.

Video ID: 2_SC_TAR

Area Lights

Emissive Materials allow certain materials to glow as an additional light source!

Video ID: 3_SC_TAR

Emissive Materials
Update: Post-processing

This shows the updated PostProcessing Stack in Unity 2018 and above.

Video ID: 5_SC_TAR

Post-processing Stack (Version 2)

Video ID: 6_SC_TAR

Finishing touches

Let's add a first-person controller so we can examine our environment with a moving camera.

Video ID: 7_SC_TAR

FPS Camera

We can use LayerMasks to limit the influence of lights to specific parts of our scene.

Video ID: 9_SC_TAR

Masks and Layers

Here we examine some settings to improve our lighting workflow so we can iterate more quickly through changes.

Video ID: 9_SC_TAR

Iteration Settings

Unity allows lights to work in mixed lighting mode, in order to serve double duty for both static and non-static objects.

Video ID: 10_SC_TAR

Mixed Lighting

Because moving objects don't receive global illumination, we can approximate bounced lighting on non-static objects using light probes.

Video ID: 11_SC_TAR

Light Probes

Let's add some reflection probes to our scene, so that CG objects can be reflected in certain surfaces.

Video ID: 12_SC_TAR

Reflection Probes

Here we correct some of the artifacts/flashing associated with the Screen Space Reflection in the Post Processing Stack.

Video ID: 13_SC_TAR

Screen Space Reflections

In this lesson, we review how to create PostProcessVolumes to modify the PostProcessing Stack as we move from one area of the level to another.

Video ID: 14_SC_TAR


You've completed your first real lighting setup! 

Video ID: 15_SC_TAR

Section 4 Conclusion

Let's review what we learned in assembling our sci-fi corridor scene.

Check Your Understanding
5 questions
+ Lighting Pipelines (Bonus Section)
6 lectures 47:40

Here we introduce a new Section of optional videos.

Video ID: 1_LP_TAR

Section Notes

In this lecture, we discuss the three main parts that comprise a Rendering Pipeline.

Video ID: 2_LP_TAR

Introduction to Pipelines

Here we discuss culling GameObject based on the camera's view frustum, a pyramid-like volume that describes everything in the camera's field of view.

Video ID: 3_LP_TAR

Frustum Culling

In this lesson, we discuss how to use the Occlusion Culling window and how Unity culls GameObjects that may be obscured by other objects on screen.

Video ID: 4_LP_TAR

Occlusion Culling

Here we look at one of the fundamental rendering paths, Forward Rendering.

Video ID: 5_LP_TAR

Forward Rendering

Here we check out the other Rendering Path of the built-in pipeline, Deferred Shading.

Video ID: 6_LP_TAR

Deferred Rendering
+ ShaderGraph (Bonus Section)
14 lectures 02:52:45

Here we setup a project with the Scriptable Render Pipeline for use with ShaderGraph.

Video ID: 1_SG_TAR

Project Setup

Let's review the basic parts of the ShaderGraph window.

Video ID: 2_SG_TAR

ShaderGraph Introduction

In this lesson, we create a glowing highlight using the Fresnel Effect node.

Video ID: 3_SG_TAR

Highlight Shader

In this video, we replace the solid base color node with the Texture 2D Asset node and allow the user to set a texture map in the Inspector.

Video ID: 4_SG_TAR

Texture Nodes

Here we create a simple script to toggle between the GameObject and its highlighted version based on mouse events.

Video ID: 5_SG_TAR

MeshHighlighter Script

In this lesson, we learn how to build  SubGraph assets, small reusable fragments of a ShaderGraph that can help you organize your graph as it begins to grow.

Video ID: 6_SG_TAR


Here we create a new shader for a sci-fi force field effect.  Using the Time node and a sine function, we can add some simple animation to our glowing highlight.

Video ID: 7_SG_TAR


In this video we use a TilingAndOffset node to take a simple repeatable pattern and fill in the  center for the force field.

Video ID: 8_SG_TAR

Tiling and Offset

Using the Step node, we can take a noise pattern and create a SubGraph that can simulate sizzling electrical patterns to add more surface detail on the force field

Video ID: 9_SG_TAR

Edge Noise (Part 1)

Continuing with our electrical surface effect, we add some simple harmonic motion to make the texture come alive and then integrate the SubGraph within the main ForceFieldShaderGraph.

Video ID: 10_SG_TAR

Edge Noise (Part 2)

Here we use the Lerp node to interpolate between two colors and then apply a subtle animation blend to the Rim Color in our ForceFieldShaderGraph.

Video ID: 11_SG_TAR


In this lesson, we use a Position node to create a color ramp/gradient based on a mesh's vertex coordinates.

Video ID: 12_SG_TAR


In this lesson, we examine how to use our Position's vertex data as both Object Space and World Space.  We use a Branch node to add some logic to our ShaderGraph and then set up the Color Ramp as a SubGraph for reuse later.

Video ID: 13_SG_TAR

Object and World Space
Forcefield Ramp
  • Unity 2018.2 and later
  • Basic working knowledge of the Unity Editor

2019 Update:  Check out our new Section on the ShaderGraph! Creating shaders can now be done without writing a single line of code!

Making your Unity games look amazing is easier than you think. You don't need to be great at programming and don't need incredible 3D art skills.

Creating immersive games starts with understanding the secrets of lighting and being able to squeeze maximum value from your technical art pipeline. 

This course assumes that you're a little bit familiar with Unity but doesn't require you to have any programming or art experience. We will take you through Unity's lighting toolset and discuss everything from colour theory to shadows to materials that emit light.

More specifically, the course will start off with basic light set ups such as a single point light and build up to complex lighting setups. Among other things, the course covers:

  • Direct realtime lighting including directional lights, point lights and spotlights.

  • Global illumination theory and principles, both realtime and baked (pre-rendered).

  • Emissive materials and how they can be used to make specific items in your scene stand out.

  • Three- and four-point lighting set ups - how to create them, how to vary them and how to use them for different effects in your games.

  • ShaderGraph: get started using Unity's visual editor for creating shaders!

Want to get started with Unity 3D from scratch? Check-out our Complete Unity Developer 3D course. Want to create great environments in Blender instead of Unity? Check out our Blender Environment Artist course.

We follow a project-and-challenge approach which means you don't just sit there and watch us, you follow along and flex your own creative muscles to create interesting game moments. We all learn best by doing (rather than just watching)!

You will also be asked to take on a bigger challenge and light your own scene. This serves as a great portfolio piece, or just something to show yourself what you're capable of once you've finished the course.

Unity is a fantastic engine which enables you to make production-quality games. Furthermore these games can be created for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Web from a single source!

This course is perfect for programmers who want to make their game more interesting, for 3D artists who want to triple how amazing their artwork looks, designers who dream of creating cinematic moments worthy of AAA games, and anyone else who is interested in leveling up their tech art skills.

Come and join us in this course now - you'll be amazed at what you're capable of creating!

Note: the project files for this course have been updated to use Unity 2019 with version 2 of the PostProcessing stack. We recommend that you complete the using Unity 2019 or above.

Who this course is for:
  • Unity developers (or anyone) interested in 3d art
  • Beginning 3d technical artists interested in Unity3d
  • No programming or scripting is required for this course!