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Try the new LookDev Studio prototype today

December 1, 2021 in Engine & platform | 6 min. read
Character Fia with hand extended out
Character Fia with hand extended out

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[UPDATED December 2021 to reflect the new LookDev 0.2.0 release]

What is LookDev Studio?

LookDev Studio
Get to know LookDev Studio.

Artists, no matter their expertise, need a place to quickly import, iterate on, and refine their art. In Unity, there has yet to be a simple starting point for importing one asset and manipulating its environment to determine and visualize iteration pathways. Now, we want to speed up the process for artists like you to get started in Unity.

That’s where LookDev Studio comes in. Its feature set makes it easier to import, visualize, validate, debug, compare, and develop high-quality visuals of your assets from the Unity platform.

The LookDev Studio layout has been streamlined with fewer tabs for a more artist-focused interface that offers easy access to your models, materials, and textures. This way, you don’t have to worry about folder hierarchies or other (sometimes unnecessary) components.

At present, LookDev Studio is a prototype targeted toward artists working in Unity’s High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) or Universal Render Pipeline (URP). Its current feature set prioritizes the ability to import and view individual assets and small dioramas under various light conditions and debugging modes, in addition to quick lighting customization and setup, automation, and filtering functionalities.

We would love to hear what you think about the LookDev Studio prototype so far, and where you see it within the overall Unity ecosystem. Read on to learn more about how you can share valuable feedback that will directly impact the development of this latest product.

How to get started

  • Make sure you’ve installed Unity Editor version 2021.2.2f1 or higher.
  • Extract the entire ZIP file to a location of your choice.
  • In Unity Hub, click Add, then navigate to where you’ve saved the extracted project.
  • Open the project using 2021.2.2f1 (or higher).
    • The project will not work correctly in a version lower than 2021.2.2f1.
  • Please note that the HDRP project is particularly heavy; it can take up to 15 minutes to build and open the library.
  • If the project doesn’t open directly in LookDev Studio, go to the top menu and select LookDev Studio > Enable.
  • Download a test asset here to try out the import and setup flow.

Discover the new 0.2.0 release

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The second release of the LookDev Studio prototype brings with it a series of customization updates and improved functionality. First and foremost, the URP version of the project – complete with sample content and Skybox setups – is now readily available.

0.2.0 also comprises new features for both HDRP and URP versions, such as: 

  • Lighting prefabs and preset customization to conveniently create your own preset lighting scenes with premade or custom lighting prefabs.  
  • Animation preview, so you can drag and drop animations into your model to view them at different speeds in LookDev Studio.  
  • Filtering functionality to filter based on selected assets, or even create custom filters and directories for viewing only relevant content at any given time.  
  • LookDev project settings that allow you to generate prefabs or colliders on Model import, select a custom asset directory to view content, open assets in preferred Digital Content Creation (DCC) tools, or generate your own automation rules for Texture import.  
  • Channel debugging to quickly debug content in both HDRP and URP. Use the drop-down, or the B/N shortcut (M to go back to normal).  
  • Finally, there are the following added features and capabilities: 
    • New tab UI, with added Shader, Lighting, HDRI, and Animation tabs.
    • Save prefab changes or make prefab variants directly in LookDev.
    • Save and load up to five camera positions in the top bar, or use shortcuts: CTRL+1,2,3,4,5, Load: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
    • Quickly switch between lighting presets with - / = key shortcuts.

Reminder, LookDev Studio is a prototype and doesn’t have an official release date yet. While we do not recommend using it for your production, we hope you’ll give our new features a try and let us know what you think in the survey and forums. Your feedback will help guide our next phase of development to ensure that it’s tailored to your needs.

Feature highlights from 0.1.0

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One key question that fuels our innovation is: How can we empower you to get up and running in Unity quickly, and then bring your high-quality art to the renderer? As you’ll see in this overview of the LookDev Studio prototype, the current feature set focuses on the import flow, material setup, and previewing under different lighting conditions, with more potential workflow improvements and features to come.

Improved import and texture workflow

Drag and drop into the Scene view import and material setup workflow.

The LookDev Studio prototype automates some of the import process steps. For instance, you can drag and drop models and textures into the Scene view. Each asset type is then automatically assigned to its respective folder to generate new materials.

If you import textures, or models with associated textures, you can use the Texture Allocator to assign them to auto-generated materials right away. This enables you to create the materials you need for your assets. Simply drag and drop your different textures into the appropriate channel, or select the Texture Allocator button in the UI. By using common suffixes for your Texture types, many textures will automatically be assigned to their correct slots, and Normal Map import settings will be adjusted automatically as well.

Preview your assets in different lighting

With the Lighting Preset drop-down, you can rapidly and iteratively test your assets in five different high-dynamic-range images (HDRIs) and lighting configurations, all built-in with the LookDev Studio prototype. You can also use the = / - key shortcuts to quickly switch between lighting presets.

Switch between HDRI presets and use a hotkey to rotate the lighting rig.

Even more, you can leverage the Lighting Rotation slider or a hotkey (Shift+Alt+move mouse) to manually change the orientation of the lighting and HDRI. The orbit and turntable toggles provide options for viewing your assets in different lighting, from multiple angles.

Check out the turntable and Orbit Camera on Hamlet the pig from a recent demo project, showcasing URP and custom shaders.

Included sample models, materials, and textures

The prototype comes with a curated selection of models and materials, so you can fully explore the features of the HDRP renderer without importing your own assets. More specifically, you can find sample hard-surface models and even vegetation.

Image of Fia, an animated female looking towards the reader in a dark background
The rigged character sample, Fia, includes sample animations (HDRP only). The lighting setup used for this image is available in the 0.2.0 HDRP release. It’s called “FiaPortraitLighting” (see the Lighting Preset drop-down).

In addition, we’ve included a unique, Unity IP high-resolution character model, Fia, who is part of a larger narrative. We’ll be sure to share more details on this project soon.

Screenshot of Unity logo balls in different materials within the LookDev Studio prototype project
Materials included as samples

In the meantime, you can explore Unity’s HDRP capabilities for Subsurface Scattering Shaders (SSS), and take a sneak peek at one of our projects in development with LookDev Studio. The wide range of materials included in this product serve as an example for creating transparent or SSS materials in Unity’s HDRP, particularly for artists who want to begin working in Unity today.

Reminder: LookDev Studio is currently a prototype and doesn’t have an official release date determined. While we do not yet recommend using it for your production, we are collecting early feedback to guide its next phase of development and ensure that it’s tailored to your needs.

We want to hear from you

Once you’ve had a chance to try the LookDev Studio prototype, complete this survey for a chance to win one of five $50 USD Amazon gift cards.

Otherwise, please feel free to join us in the Unity Forums or sign up here to keep up with future releases.


What version of Unity do I need to use LookDev Studio?

  • The LookDev Studio prototype is currently only compatible with Unity 2021.2.0b3 or higher.

When will LookDev Studio be fully released?

  • There is no official release date determined yet. We want to hear your valuable feedback and ensure that LookDev Studio is tailored to your needs before we complete a full release plan and feature set.

Does LookDev Studio support both HDRP and URP?

  • Yes. As of release 0.2.0 (November 2021), LookDev Studio supports both HDRP and URP. Simply download the project version that fits your render pipeline of choice. Any FBX or OBJ file can be set up to work with LookDev Studio and HDRP or URP. Please note the specific HDRP texture packing requirements for optimal model quality in LookDev Studio HDRP.

Does LookDev Studio work on both Windows and Mac?

  • Yes, you can use LookDev on either Windows or Mac, but we highly recommend using Windows for the best experience.

What is the current feature readiness of LookDev Studio? Can I use it in my production today?

  • LookDev Studio is currently a prototype. The plan is to collect early feedback to guide its next phase of development. As such, we do not recommend using LookDev Studio in your production just yet.

How can I return to the normal Unity Editor view? 

  • You can easily switch to the usual Editor view by going to LookDev Studio > Return to Unity. To revert back to LookDev Studio, go to LookDev Studio > Enable.
December 1, 2021 in Engine & platform | 6 min. read

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