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Updated for 2021 LTS: The definitive guide to lighting in the High Definition Render Pipeline

June 9, 2022 in Games | 2 min. read
A mountain with clouds around it
A mountain with clouds around it

The definitive guide to lighting in the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) is now updated with tips for taking on the latest capabilities in Unity 2021 LTS. Learn how to create high-end lighting with production-ready HDRP features – from Light Anchors to Lens Flares, and beyond.

This e-book was initially created and published late last year to demonstrate the power of physically based lighting in HDRP for generating high-end lighting effects across PC and console games. We’ve received positive feedback from our users, and have since updated the guide to include key features in Unity 2021 LTS. This way, it can remain a foundational, advanced-level resource for technical artists, lighting artists, and developers working in Unity.

A promotion of an HDRP lighting e book

It’s highly recommended that you read the guide together with Unity documentation, which is the source of truth for all Unity features and capabilities. The e-book supplements documentation by providing many concrete examples of how to set up and use HDRP for your projects.

Let’s take a brief look at what’s new in this version.

Sample pages from the HDRP e-book

What’s new in the e-book?

  • Light Anchors: Packed with predefined presets and gizmos, this component helps you set up lights quickly around characters or props by controlling the angle and distance between the camera and subject.
  • Clouds: Find new information about Cloud Layers and Volumetric Clouds. Use Cloud Layers to animate clouds and change the look through parameters and textures, and natural-looking Volumetric Clouds to render shadows or receive fog and volumetric light.
  • Lens Flares: This effect simulates artifacts that appear on the camera lens from light sources. Include them in your rendering process to help give your game a more realistic and cinematic look.
  • Dynamic resolution: This automatically reduces the rendering resolution when the frame rate is about to drop and upscales with filters to ensure that players can experience smooth gameplay without a negative visual impact.
  • Updated ray tracing: We added greater detail here so that using this feature is more user-friendly going forward.
4 features of HDRP from the ebook
Examples of Volumetric Clouds (two top images), Light Anchors (bottom left), and Lens Flares (bottom right), all features available in Unity 2021 LTS

If you have yet to download the e-book, here’s a quick overview of the topics it covers:

  • HDRP concepts, settings, cameras, and Volumes frameworks
  • Exposure, modes, physical camera settings, and formulas
  • Light units, types, properties, and IES Profiles
  • Creating natural-looking skyscapes with the Physically Based Sky system
  • Refining and modifying shadows, reflections, and real-time lighting effects to add depth to your scenes
  • Best practices for using the Rendering Debugger
  • Ray tracing and post-processing

Check out the HDRP documentation for further details, then see what’s new for artists and designers in the latest Unity 21 LTS release.

Finally, let us know what you think of our updated guide in this forum thread.

June 9, 2022 in Games | 2 min. read
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