The sparks from a magic spell, plumes of smoke, ultraviolet or electric blue energy bolts, city lights seen through mist or rain, open fields of swaying grass... It’s hard to imagine a modern game without the evocative power of visual effects.
Visual effects are the key to creating deeply immersive experiences for your players. And thanks to continuous hardware advancements, what used to be available only for Hollywood blockbusters can now be attained in real-time.
VFX Graph is one of several major toolsets available in Unity for artists and designers to create with little or no coding. With its node-based visual logic, you can create any number of simple to complex effects for projects across genres.
Our new 120-page e-book, The definitive guide to creating advanced visual effects in Unity, guides artists, designers, and programmers using the Unity 2021 LTS version of VFX Graph. Use it as a reference for producing richly layered, real-time visual effects for your games.
The VFX Graph creates GPU-accelerated particle systems, and therefore requires compute shader support to maintain compatibility with target devices. It works with the Universal Render Pipeline (URP, including the 2D Renderer) and the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP).
Compared to the Built-in Particle System, the VFX Graph can drive more particles with faster simulation, customizable behaviors, extensibility, Camera Buffer access, and native Shader Graph integration. You can use any custom shader created in Shader Graph to target VFX Graph. These shaders are able to use new lighting models like HDRP hair or fabric, and can even modify particles at the vertex level to enable effects like birds with flapping wings, wobbling particles like soap bubbles, and so much more.
The VFX Graph e-book is as beautiful to look at as it is inspiring and informative. Created in collaboration with Wilmer Lin, a veteran VFX artist from the film and games industries, and internal experts on the Unity Graphics team, it’s generous in scope, level of detail, thoughtful instruction, images and videos, and numerous downloadable resources and references for VFX authoring in Unity.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s in the guide.
Get a thorough understanding of each part of the VFX Graph, starting with the VFX Graph Asset and component, and the VFX Graph window. Learn how to create logic with Systems, Contexts, Blocks, Properties, Operators, Blackboards, Subgraphs, Events, Attributes, and more.
Visual effects often involve many moving pieces. Connecting them to the correct points in your application is essential to integrating them at runtime. You’ll learn about the available tools for playing back an effect and how to use them:
Colorful swarms of Particle Strips, explosive effects for a crashing Meteorite, and an extra slimy GooBall: These are just a few of the effects you’ll find in the Visual Effect Graph Samples (HDRP).
Each sample highlights different scenarios involving the VFX Graph. For a better understanding, this section of the e-book examines how some of these samples were created, namely through the use of:
See the e-book for more clips that show the different samples, including the following introduction to the GooBall scene.
Effects aren’t isolated in a vacuum. Often you’ll need to supply them with external data to achieve your intended look.
What if you want the genie to emerge from a magic lamp? Or you’d like to integrate a hologram? While you can accomplish much of this with math functions and Operators, you might need the effect to interact with more complex shapes and forms.
This section explains how to use three Data types supported in Unity to enhance your visual effects: Point Caches, Signed Distance Fields, and Vector Fields. Other tools you’ll learn about are the VFXToolbox, which features additional tools for Unity VFX artists, and Flipbook Texture Sheets to bake animated effects into a sprite.
Other chapters in the guide cover optimization techniques for visual effects, future developments for VFX Graph, and finally, a long list of tutorials and videos. We’re thrilled to be able to offer you this valuable resource, which is free to download (as all of our technical e-books are). Please don’t hesitate to share your feedback with us in this forum.