Realistic looking materials help to breathe life into a regular scene. Currently, my scene is fairly lifeless and its textures are very soft and unconvincing. Normally, hospitals like these have reflective floors and sturdy walls. How do we communicate this in Unity?

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Unity has built-in options in the material edi2017-01-19 (12).pngtor to adjust reflectiveness and smoothness (right). The Metallic shader will allow a cubemap’s reflections to be cast onto the material, and the smoothness will determine the sharpness of the reflection. After all: a smooth walls will be more reflective, but a rougher one won’t. For the floor and Walls, I will configure these parameters as:

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Without configuring reflections your scene will look like this:

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Noticeably darker, but this will change with reflections

To generate the reflections for this scene, we need to use Unity’s built-in Reflection Probe. Reflection Probes allow you to generate reflections in real-time or by baking them, which can be used on materials with the Metallic property set above 0. Create one by right-clicking in the heirarchy and navigating to Light -> Reflection Probe

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This will generate one in the scene (below):

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The icon for a Reflection Probe

T2017-01-19 (15).pngo configure a Reflection Probe, ensure that its Box Size is large enough to engulf the entire area you wish to capture and use the reflection. Ensure that Box Projection is enabled, the resolution is set to a tolerable level (I prefer 1024, you may prefer another), and other parameters should be set as necessary (For this project, I can leave them at defaults). Make sure your reflection probe is position somewhere to capture a detailed cubemap that’s appropriate to the scene, for example, somewhere cube-like for as many details to be captures as possible

Lastly, when configured, click “Bake” to bake the scene into the cubemap.

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What a baked cubemap looks like

With a baked reflection probe, your scene will looks like this:

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With reflections, the scene becomes brighter and more realistic

Using reflections can enhance the look and feel of each material in your scene. Reflection Probes are one way to realistically light and set up your scene, and using a variety of them throughout your level can benefit the atmosphere and artistic direction of your art

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