This week I found the homework mostly experimental and practical rather than being focused on creativity or expression. I personally have a lot of experience in the Unity engine making different kinds of games, but getting to explore advanced materials, graphics, and the URP (universal rendering pipeline) package was pretty cool and eye opening. I got to see somewhat realistic graphics get transferred onto game objects in Unity in real time. I also learned what a “reflection probe” is and realized that it is important for having the skybox make a meaningful different on how the scene looks. I now feel a lot more confident working with advanced shaders in Unity and will definitely use this workflow as part of my final project.
My goal this week was simply to understand the system and not necessarily create an inspired piece. I wanted to understand how to connect height, metallic, normal, and base maps to materials correctly. I wanted to understand why thinks worked different in the URP compared to the regular graphics of Unity. I found the detail that came out of using these more advanced materials really rewarding and exciting to see.
I found the process pretty simple and straightforward, and since the only way to show the final product rendered was through the game view and I didn’t go through with integrating look and move controls (I normally do but this exercise was very simple), the way to show the final product was therefore just a singular stagnant shot of the main camera. This meant that I would keep the layout and objects used pretty simple. I just used primitives like spheres, cubes, and planes, and used a character model to show off how some of the shaders looked when wrapped against something a bit more complex.
My personal favourite shader was the star cruiser shader (downloaded from freepbr.com just like the rest of the shaders). The colours, details, and metallic reflections really popped, especially the tiny bumps in the metal. I just thought it looked awesome for how simple it was to set up and how it can be applied to any object. There was a certain complexity and level of detail that I thought stood out more than the other materials did when they were all properly applied.
I had 8 materials in total with one being just a simple emissive red, one being a realistic skybox from polyhaven.com, and the other 6 being various texture zips downloaded from freepbr.com including grass/moss, rusty aluminum, pure aluminum, houndstooth fabric weave, white quilt mattress, and space cruiser. The extra 3D model was taken as Mutant from mixamo.com.