Delaney King

Delaney King

03-11-2022

12:34

Game artist advice: Being able to make your own shaders will give you a great deal of artistic power, and save you a lot of time and suffering. You only need to learn a few simple tricks, and each one you learn opens up a great deal of options.

You don't need to learn to code to make shaders at a basic level, and both Unreal and Unity both have node based visual shader tools, which you can learn one node at a time. Some of the basic shaders I encourage students to learn are:

□ Usung masks and color variables to dynamically tint parts of your model. □ Detail mapping (overlaying fine textures when close) □ World space projected textures (great for snapping floors together) □ combining moving textures to make a glowing magic effects

□ taking vertex paint information to blend textures together and adjust wetness. □ being able to apply tiled rust, dust and damage using an RGB map. □ projecting a mask for moss / snow so it only appears on upper surfaces when you rotate the model.

If you get those down, you can do 80 percent of the common tricks used in environments, prop making, character customisation and basic particle effects. It is a good basis to start your journey, so explore these and see what you can do. Shaders are powerful...

...even just the simpler ones. So don't be afraid of them even if you don't plan on being a technical artist. A few tricks is enough to open up a world of solutions for you.

That was seven techniques. Imagine what you can do with twenty or thirty of them in your tool belt. Don't skip shaders. They are very handy.

YouTube is a great source for learning using node based graphs, as the videos tend to focus on one trick at a time and you can see how they wire up the graphs and follow along. Try out my list and see if you can pull off each of them with a little research and tinkering.


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