3D Level Design: Custom Skybox

Intro

In this article we are going to cover how to create a custom skybox in either the standard and URP.

Procedural Skybox

The first skybox we will focus on is the procedural skybox. In accessing the skyboxes, you will need to open up the Lighting window, which can be found in rendering.

In customizing your own setting, we need to create a “New Lighting Settings”

In these new settings, my “Lightmapper” is going to be Progressive CPU, but if you have a fast enough graphics card I would recommend using GPU which will show real-time light baking.

We also want to Auto Generate the lighting, instead of hitting the Generate Lighting button every time we make a change. This will generate the new lighting automatically.

The default-skybox is automatically generated, but with this you cannot adjust settings to make it customizable.

Create a new material called “Skybox”.

Assign this new material into the Skybox material. This will create an error because the material isn’t actually a skybox material, just a normal material.

To make the material into a skybox material, we enter the Inspector > Shader > Skybox > Procedural.

This converts the material into a procedural skybox material. This allows us to adjust the properties of this skybox.

Procedural Skybox Properties

Below you will find Unity’s documentation what each property will do in regard with the skybox.

Directional Lighting

Directional lighting is automatically generated with a procedural skybox. The directional lighting works hand and hand with the skybox. Below is the documentation from Unity.

Basically, the directional light is the sun or moon in the sky.

The way to reposition the directional light is to use the rotation tool, which will control where in the sky this light source will be.

The directional light has its own properties that can be adjusted.

Below is Unity’s documentation on these light properties.

With the skybox and directional light settings, you can customize the skybox to get the lightning you are looking for.

Other Skyboxes

6 Sided

This skybox uses 6 separate images and stitches them together to make a 360° image or cube.

Cubemap

Cubemap is very similar to 6 sided, but the instead of having 6 separate images and you having to manually determine their side placement for the cube, it is already formatted into a cube.

You will need to change the texture shape in order to import the cube image to a cubemap.

Once this is done, you will see it graphed to a sphere.

Now, you can import it to the cubemap skybox.

Panoramic

A panoramic image is has a bubble effect that allows to capture wide images. These images can be used to create a skybox.

Unity will convert this panoramic image into a 3D image for the skybox.

All of these skyboxes when imported, automatically convert lighting levels of the game scene to the light levels of the image.

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