Create high-quality light fixtures in Unity

I have published a comprehensive Unity expert guide (PDF) on advanced techniques to create high-quality light fixtures for real-time applications. Read it and find out how you can use light cookies and advanced shaders to create convincing artificial light sources in any project, from games or architectural visualizations to films and more!

Light cookies are 2D textures or cubemaps used to block parts of a light source in order to control the shape, the intensity, and the color of the emitted lighting. They can also be called “gobos”, “cucoloris” or “flags”, depending on the industry and their use case.


With their help, you can efficiently simulate ray-traced soft shadows, colored transmission, and even refractive caustics! Indeed, rendering these effects fully in real-time would be remarkably expensive in densely-lit environments, even for the most powerful GPUs on the market. This is why baked light cookies are still crucial to produce convincing lighting in real-time scenarios.


After pointing out some of the common lighting mistakes still found in CGI nowadays and giving you recommendations on how to prevent them, the expert guide walks you through all the steps required to generate beautiful noise-free cookies with a variety of 2D and 3D programs, such as Photoshop, 3ds Max and Unity itself.

Moreover, I will explain how to set up critical post-processing settings in Unity, such as Exposure and Tone Mapping, so that your interior scenes can be lit in a more physically-correct way, one of HDRP’s mottos.


Then, the guide gives an extensive review of the crucial Light properties in HDRP, such as the physical Intensity units, the Color modes, the  Shadows parameters, and the Light Layers used to restrict lighting to specific objects. Later, I present different methods to replicate the lampshade of a chandelier with HDRP’s highly flexible Lit shader.

Finally, I introduce an original workflow to generate appealing caustics to bring the final ultra-realistic touch to your light sources, by adding micro-details to simulate the self-reflections of the light fitting and the structural imperfections found in the reflectors and the lampshades.


Hopefully, thanks to our new expert guide, you will have many tools on hand to create convincing light sources, and raise the visual bar of your Unity Scenes!

Let’s get started!


Unity’s Rendering and Lighting Pipeline

Shortly after joining Unity, I wrote a Best Practice Guide for Unity’s official documentation, about the lighting and rendering pipelines in Unity, because the multitude of lighting features and permutations in Unity can initially seem daunting. Indeed, Unity provides several lighting systems and rendering pipelines, to accommodate the very large variety of platforms and project types, and it can be difficult to have a great overview of the lighting pipeline.

In the document, I explain important lighting principles and how the render generate a frame. To facilitate the understanding of these concepts, I have created several diagrams, decision flowcharts, and tables to give a high-level perspective of the lighting pipeline and to help users decide which render pipeline and which global lighting settings would best suit their requirements.


Unity’s Lighting Pipeline PDF
Unity’s official article
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GDC Europe 2013: Shining the Light on Crysis 3

GDC Europe 2013 Session: Shining the Light on Crysis 3  (Monday, 8/19)

This presentation is part of my talk at the GDC Europe 2013 in Cologne, Germany. The 50 minutes session goes through the production of Crysis 3 and showcases important lighting principles for creating appealing scenes.

I also explain how physics can help create better materials and textures, using physically-based rules, and how the CryENGINE lighting features were used in Crysis 3 to create one of the best visual experiences in a video game.

Furthermore, several case studies provide a clearer demonstration of the methods and workflows I used to design the lighting for outdoor, indoor and cinematic scenes.

Enjoy 30 additional bonus slides as well, that were not shown during the talk, as 50 minutes is rarely enough to talk about such a wide topic of discussion.



GDC Talk Video
Shining the Light on Crysis 3 PDF

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FMX 2013: The Art and Technology behind Crysis 3

This presentation is part of my talk at the FMX 2013 conference in Stuttgart. The session goes through the different phases of the art production, from concepting to full production. Tiago Sousa describes some of the technical features implemented to create one of the best visual experience to date in a video game.



The Art and Technology behind Crysis 3 PDF

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GDC Europe 2011: Lighting in Crysis 2

This presentation is part of my talk at the GDC Europe 2011 in Cologne with Tiago Sousa. It introduces the lighting features of the different iterations of the CryENGINE and presents the lighting challenges encountered in Crysis 2 from both an artistic and a technical point of view.


GDC Talk Video
Lighting in Crysis 2 PDF
Lighting in Crysis 2 PPTX
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Making of Crysis 2 DirextX11 Upgrade

The following article presents the new features introduced in the DirectX 11 pack for Crysis 2, from Realtime Local Reflection (RLR) to improved tonemapping as well as Screen Space Directional Occlusion (SSDO) and Realistic Shadows with Variable Penumbra.


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Crysis 2 DX11 Ultra Upgrade PDF from
Crysis 2 DX11 Ultra Upgrade PDF from
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