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).

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
  7. Optimizing Unity's auto unwrapping
  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 ]
  3. Intro to Cinemachine [ by Brackeys ]
  4. Cinemachine Clear Shot Camera Tutorial
  5. Using Timeline: Getting Started
  6. Using Timeline: Understanding Tracks
  7. Using Timeline: Working with Animation Clips
  1. Materials
  2. Emissive Materials
  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
  5. Questions and Answers for Art & Design Essentials
  1. Overview and Goals
  2. Best Practices
  3. Mesh Normal Calculation
  4. DCC Tool Light Import
  5. DCC Tool Camera Import
  6. Importing Visibility Animation
  7. Animation Keyframing Improvements
  8. Stingray PBS Materials
  9. FBX Material Embedding
  10. Questions and Answers