Using Skyboxes

Checked with version: 4.1

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Difficulty: Beginner

A skybox is a panoramic texture drawn behind all objects in the scene to represent the sky or any other vista at a great distance. This lesson explains how to use skyboxes in Unity.

Understanding skyboxes

A skybox is a panoramic view split into six textures representing six directions visible along the main axes (up, down, left, right, forward and backward). If the skybox is correctly generated, the texture images will fit together seamlessly at the edges to give a continuous surrounding image that can be viewed from "inside" in any direction. The panorama is rendered behind all other objects in the scene and rotates to match the current orientation of the camera (it doesn't vary with the position of the camera, which is always taken to be at the centre of the panorama). A skybox is thus an easy way to add realism to a scene with minimal load on the graphics hardware.

Using a skybox in Unity

Unity comes with a number of high-quality skyboxes in the Standard Assets package (menu: Assets > Import Package > Skyboxes) but you can also obtain suitable sets of panoramic images from internet sources or generate your own using 3D modelling software.

Assuming you already have the six skybox textures images, you should import them into Unity with the Wrap Mode set to Clamp rather than Repeat (if you don't do this, the edges of the images will not meet up seamlessly).

Skybox front texture

The skybox itself is actually a type of material using one of the shaders from the RenderFX submenu. If you choose the Skybox shader, you will see an inspector like the following, with six samplers for the textures:-

Skybox material

The Skybox Cubed shader works in much the same way but requires the textures to be added to a cubemap asset (menu: Assets > Create > Cubemap). The cubemap has six texture slots with the same meanings as those of the Skybox material inspector.

Once it is created, you can set the new skybox as the project default using the Render Settings inspector (menu: Edit > Render Settings). You can override the default skybox for each camera by assigning a new one in the camera's Skybox component (visible in the camera's inspector).

Graphics

  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
  7. Optimizing Unity's auto unwrapping
  8. Understanding Clusters
  9. Fine tuning with Lightmap Parameters
  10. Summary - Precomputed Realtime GI
  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. Cameras
  2. Image Effects: Overview
  1. Meshes
  2. Mesh Renderers and Mesh Filters
  1. Where to Start?
  2. Preparing Unity Render Settings
  3. Lighting Strategy
  4. Modeling
  5. Standard Shader/Material PBS and texturing
  6. Lighting and Setup
  7. Understanding Post Process Features
  8. Dynamically Lit Objects
  9. Sample Project File
  1. Using Cameras
  2. Using Lights
  3. Fun with Lasers!
  4. The Particle System
  5. Cinematic Explosions - PIT
  6. Cinematic Composition - PIT
  7. Image Effects: Overview
  8. Fun with Explosions!
  9. Exploring the Blacksmith Environment
  1. Turning it up to 11: Making Unity 5 look Awesome!
  1. Substance - Introduction
  2. Substance - Understanding PBR
  3. Substance - Working with PBR in Unity
  4. Substance - Using Substance materials in Unity
  5. Substance - Optimization for Substance materials
  6. Substance - Creating rock shapes
  7. Substance - Creating rock material, Pt 1
  8. Substance - Creating rock material, Pt 2
  9. Substance - Creating the dirt ground material
  10. Substance - Creating the rock ground material, Pt 1
  11. Substance - Creating the rock ground material, Pt 2
  12. Substance - Publishing the Substance
  13. Substance - Creating a blocking scene
  14. Substance - Creating the ground model
  15. Substance - Modelling the rock assets
  16. Substance - Texturing the upper body
  17. Substance - Exporting textures from Substance Painter
  18. Substance - Creating a scene in Unity, Pt 1
  19. Substance - Creating a scene in Unity, Pt 2
  1. Introduction and Goals
  2. Flame Particles Overview
  3. Particle Emission and Color
  4. Adding Movement To Particles With Noise
  5. Creating The Ember Particles
  6. Adding Lighting To Particles
  7. Creating Sparks With Particle Trails
  8. Particle Question and Answers
  1. Introduction and Goals
  2. Adding a Second Camera
  3. Adding Minimap Icons
  4. Render Textures and UI
  5. Adding A UI Mask and Border Image
  6. Questions and Answers
  1. Session Introduction
  2. Rendering In Unity
  3. Anatomy Of An Unlit Shader
  4. The Vertex Function
  5. The Fragment Function and Color Tint
  6. Making A Transparent Shader
  7. Displacing Vertices and Clipping Pixels
  8. Questions and Answers
  1. Introduction and Session Goals
  2. The VideoPlayer Component
  3. Texturing Objects With Video
  4. Playing and Pausing
  5. Playing A New Clip
  6. Displaying Current Time and Clip
  7. Animated Playhead
  8. Questions and Answers
  1. Overview and Goals
  2. Tonemapping and Color Grading
  3. Camera Movement & Animation
  4. Post Processing Volumes
  5. Timeline & Cinemachine
  6. Questions and Answers