Shader Showcase Saturday #6: Dynamic Snow

After two previous instalments of Shader Showcase Saturday focused on wind and rain, talking about snow was simply unavoidable.

Creating realistic snow is a serious challenge, which will be further explored in the following months. This week, we focus on how shaders can be used to add snow to an existing scene. Most of the references shown in this post will not be photorealistic. We will show on how to simulate photorealistic snow and frost in a few weeks. If you cannot wait, I would strongly advise having a look at Winter Suite. It contains some of the most realistic shaders for snowy and frosty surfaces.

As you can see from the image above, it supports translucency, subsurface scattering and the shimmering effect that is typically seen in snow.

I have also dedicated a proper tutorial on snow shading, which you can find in the article titled Surface Shading in Unity. Continue reading

Shader Showcase Saturday #5: Dripping Rain

The first time I played Diablo 2 I remember how impressed I was to see rain causing ripples on the river just behind the Rogue Encampment. But only when I looked closer I realised that those ripples were not actually caused by any raindrop. Both ripples and raindrops were simply unrelated. As it often happens, improving graphics in modern computer games is not a quest for realism: it’s all about believability.

When it comes to 2D games, creating ripples in water is relatively easy, as that is often done with particles. But for 3D objects, things are a little bit more complicated. Since meshes can be curved, is hard to have particles following those shapes correctly. Technically speaking, such an effect could be perfectly simulated with physics, but as we have seen already, fluid simulations are expensive and hard to control.

This is why most games in which you see water slowly dripping on a 3D surface often rely on shaders.

If this is your first time approaching shaders, I highly encourage you to read A Gentle Introduction to Shaders, which will get you started.

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Shader Showcase Saturday #4: How To Start A Fire With Shaders

In the two previous instalments of Shader Showcase Saturday, we have talked about waterfalls and interactive grass. Those two subjects sound very different from each other, yet they share something in common: the original phenomenon can be modelled as a fluid simulation. This week’s Shader Showcase Saturday will continue this trend, talking about another effect that involves fluids: fire.

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Shader Showcase Saturday #2: Waterfalls

Historically speaking, waterfalls have always had a special place in games. From Super Mario to Tomb Raider, their role has been more than just aesthetic. Often hiding secret caves, waterfalls are now iconic. This is why I believe is important to celebrate some of the most well-crafted waterfalls that have been posted online in the past few months.

I hope this will encourage more readers to try out what shaders can really do, especially when it comes to rivers, lakes and oceans.

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