3D Procedural Skybox
If you have ever been to Africa and watched the sunset on the Serengeti, it is a beautiful sight to behold. We wanted to capture this scenery in our project with a stylized skybox in Unity. To achieve this, we asked our Technical artist, Dave, to create a procedural skybox with the ability to have a day and night cycle with clouds and stars. The finished product turned into a 3D Procedural Skybox.
A 3D skybox is a miniature “subscene” residing outside the bounds of the playable area. It is rendered behind the playable area to create the illusion that the game world is much larger than it is. Most artists create their skybox using 2D images; in the 3D skybox, we have the advantage of it being rendered in real-time and can contain animations, particles, etc. In the screenshot below, this is our skybox in the “subscene” that is outside the playable bounds. Here, we can add background models that the player can never reach. For example, we plan to create my favorite trees, the Baobab Tree, and place them in the “subscene”; this is to capture the abundance of plant-life in the world of Xavian.
Below are in-game screenshots with our 3D skybox playing in real-time. Our technical artist did an excellent job of capturing the colors of the time of days. Our favorite part of the skybox is when it switches to sunset. You get to see the beautiful analogous color scheme in the sky along with the moon appearing in the distance signally, the beginning of nighttime.
For nighttime, we wanted to capture the blues and purples(violet); inspired by the scene in Marvel’s Black Panther when Chadwick Boseman was speaking with the past kings of Wakanda. We got to see the beautiful aurora night sky with colors from green to hints of red-violet. The moon of our skybox has a directional light source that allows the player to see the bright moonlight of the moon.
Last, our daytime scene. We wanted to keep daytime simple in the sense of nothing out of the ordinary. We did not want it to be a distraction or outlandish that our players would not be able to understand what is above them. During the day, we can control how little or how many clouds are spawn. For right now, we will spawn a limited amount of clouds, but if our fans want it to be a clear sky, we will make that adjustment.
There you have it, our 3D Procedural skybox. It took Dave over a month to complete even he was surprised and amazed at how well the finished product turned out. Stay tuned for more updates.