Ambient Lighting

Checked with version: 5.1

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Difficulty: Beginner

An important contributor to the overall look and brightness of a scene is ‘ambient lighting’. This can be thought of as a global light source affecting objects in the scene from every direction.

Ambient light can be useful in a number of cases, depending upon your chosen art style. An example would be bright, cartoon-style rendering where dark shadows may be undesirable or where lighting is perhaps hand-painted into textures. Ambient light can also be useful if you need to increase the overall brightness of a scene without adjusting individual lights.

Without using one of Unity’s precomputed lighting solutions, ambient light will not be occluded and therefore will not be physically accurate. However if either Baked GI or Precomputed Realtime GI are enabled in your scene then this ‘skylight’ will be blocked by objects in your scene - giving a more realistic result.

Ambient Light The same scene with no light whatsoever (Left) and with only Ambient Light (Right). Notice how the visible Skybox does not change when changes are made to the Ambient Intensity.

Ambient Light Now using Precomputed Realtime GI by marking the objects as static. Notice how light is now occluded in areas of contact between surfaces.

A significant advantage of using ambient light is that it is cheap to render and so particularly useful for mobile applications where perhaps it is desirable to minimize the number of lights in your scene.

Ambient Lighting can be controlled in the Lighting window from the ‘Environment Lighting’ section (Lighting>Scene>Ambient Source).

The default value is for the ‘Ambient Source’ property to be set to ‘Skybox’. The Skybox in this case is the default procedural Skybox that - with default settings - contributes a blue tint to the Ambient Lighting of the scene. The other options for the ‘Ambient Source’ include a solid color, or a ‘Gradient’ which is a simple color ramp applied over the hemisphere.

Note that changing the color of the ambient source does not affect the visible Skybox, instead it only affects the color of lighting within the scene.

Unity For Artists

  1. Lighting Overview
  2. Lights
  3. Materials
  4. The Standard Shader
  5. Textures
  6. Using Skyboxes
  7. A Gentle Introduction to Shaders
  8. Using detail textures for extra realism close-up
  9. Frame Debugger
  1. Introduction to Lighting and Rendering
  2. Choosing a Lighting Technique
  3. The Precompute Process
  4. Choosing a Rendering Path
  5. Choosing a Color Space
  6. High Dynamic Range (HDR)
  7. Reflections
  8. Ambient Lighting
  9. Light Types
  10. Emissive Materials
  11. Light Probes
  1. Introduction to Precomputed Realtime GI
  2. Realtime Resolution
  3. Understanding Charts
  4. Starting the precompute process
  5. Probe lighting
  6. Unwrapping and Chart reduction
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  8. Understanding Clusters
  9. Fine tuning with Lightmap Parameters
  10. Summary - Precomputed Realtime GI
  1. The Particle System
  2. Adding Lighting To Particles
  3. Adding Movement To Particles With Noise
  4. Fun with Explosions!
  5. Cinematic Explosions - PIT
  1. Intro to Timeline and Cinemachine Tutorial (including Dolly Track)
  2. Intro to Timeline [ by Brackeys ]
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  5. Using Timeline: Getting Started
  6. Using Timeline: Understanding Tracks
  7. Using Timeline: Working with Animation Clips
  1. Materials
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  3. How to remove lighting from Photogrammetry with the De-lighting tool
  1. Introduction to Art & Design Essentials
  2. Uber Standard Shader Real Time Snow Effect
  3. Building Levels With Octave3D
  4. Volumetric Fog with Fog Volume 3
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