Note that this guide was originally created for use with the Built-in Render Pipeline in Unity 2017.3. For information on adapting this guide for use with the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) and the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), see Update: believable visuals in URP and HDRP.
The first step is to get your Assets into a format suitable for what you want to do. It’s very important to set up a proper workflow from your 3D modeling application, such as Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya®, Blender, and Houdini, into Unity. When exporting assets from 3D modeling applications for import into Unity, you need to consider:
Your project scale, and your preferred unit of measurement, play a very important role in a believable SceneA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
See in Glossary. In many “real world” setups, we recommend you assume 1 Unity unitThe unit size used in Unity projects. By default, 1 Unity unit is 1 meter. To use a different scale, set the Scale Factor in the Import Settings when importing assets.
See in Glossary = 1 meter (100cm), because many physics systems assume this unit size. For more advice, see the Art Asset best practice guide.
To maintain consistency between your 3D modeling application and Unity, always validate the imported GameObject scale and size. 3D modeling applications have units and scale settings in the FBX export configuration (see the documentation for your 3D modelling software for configuration advice). Generally, the best way to match the scale when importing to Unity is to set these tools to work in centimeters, and export FBX at automatic scale. However, you should always check that the unit and scale settings match when starting a new project.
To quickly validate your export settings,
In your 3D modeling application, create a simple 1x1x1m cube and import it into Unity.
In Unity, create a default Cube (GameObjectThe fundamental object in Unity scenes, which can represent characters, props, scenery, cameras, waypoints, and more. A GameObject’s functionality is defined by the Components attached to it. More info
See in Glossary > 3D ObjectA 3D GameObject such as a cube, terrain or ragdoll. More info
See in Glossary > Cube). This is 1x1x1m. Use this as a scale reference to compare with your imported model. These cubes should look identical when the Transform componentA Transform component determines the Position, Rotation, and Scale of each object in the scene. Every GameObject has a Transform. More info
See in Glossary’s Scale property is set to 1,1,1 in the InspectorA Unity window that displays information about the currently selected GameObject, asset or project settings, allowing you to inspect and edit the values. More info
See in Glossary:
When blocking out a Scene with placeholders or sketching geometry, having a point of reference scale model can be helpful. Choose a point of reference scale model that is appropriate for the Scene you’re making. In the Spotlight Tunnel Sample Scene case, we use a park bench:
Your Scene doesn’t have to use exactly the same proportions as real life. Using a point of reference scale model simply allows consistencies of scale to be relative between GameObjects, even if the Scene is intended to have exaggerated proportions.
The information inside a texture needs to contain the correct information to give a proper result when added to a Material. Texture authoring software, such as Photoshop and Substance Painter, outputs consistent and predictable textures when you configure them correctly.
Here’s an example of a pre-set configuration for Substance Painter to output textures for use with a Unity Standard Opaque material:
The texture assignment in the Unity Standard Material is:
|Output maps for export||Assignment in Unity Standard ShaderA small script that contains the mathematical calculations and algorithms for calculating the Color of each pixel rendered, based on the lighting input and the Material configuration. More info
See in Glossary Material
|$textureSet_Albedo||Assigned to Albedo.|
|$textureSet_MetallicAOGloss||Assigned to Metallic and Occlusion.Smoothness Source set to Metallic Alpha.|
|$textureSet_Normal||Assigned to Normal MapA type of Bump Map texture that allows you to add surface detail such as bumps, grooves, and scratches to a model which catch the light as if they are represented by real geometry. More info
See in Glossary Slot.
Note: Packing multiple channels to a single texture, such as the MetallicAOGloss, saves texture memory compared to exporting Ambient OcclusionA method to approximate how much ambient light (light not coming from a specific direction) can hit a point on a surface.
See in Glossary (AO) as a separate texture. This is the best way of working with a Unity Standard Material.
When creating textures, it’s important not to mix up the alpha channel. The example below shows how transparency in a PNG file can be confusing to author in Photoshop because of the way Photoshop deals with a PNG alpha channel (without using an external plugin). In this case, an uncompressed 32-bit TGA with a dedicated alpha channel might be a better option, assuming the source texture file size is not an issue:
The transparent PNG file shown above was created in Photoshop with its alpha channel coming through as a black value. The TGA with a dedicated alpha channel shows the expected value. As you can see above, when each texture assigned to the Standard ShaderA built-in shader for rendering real-world objects such as stone, wood, glass, plastic and metal. Supports a wide range of shader types and combinations. More info
See in Glossary material reads smoothness data from the alpha channel, the smoothness of the material with PNG textures is unexpectedly inverted, while the smoothness of the material with TGA textures is normal.
Unity reads tangent space normal maps with the following interpretation:
For example, a Autodesk® 3ds Max® Render to Texture normal map outputs the Green Channel Y+ as Down by default. This causes an inverted surface direction along the Y axis and creates invalid results when lit. To validate the normal map direction, create a simple plane with concave bevel (middle picture on the example below) and bake it to a flat plane. Then assign the baked normal map into a plane in Unity with identifiable light direction and see if any of the axes are inverted.
For advice on axis settings, refer to your 3D modelling application’s documentation.