5 Proven Techniques to Improve Your Game Art in Unity
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Use High-Quality Textures
  2. Optimize 3D Models
  3. Implement Lighting Techniques
  4. Apply Shaders Effectively
  5. Practice Particle Effects

Have you ever looked at the high-fidelity graphics in a video game and wondered how they achieved such stunning visuals? The answer often lies in Unity, a powerful game development platform. If you're keen on getting better at game art in Unity, you're in the right place. This blog post will guide you through five proven techniques to improve your game art in Unity. We'll start with the importance of using high-quality textures and follow up with other indispensable tricks of the trade. So, let's get started!

Use High-Quality Textures

First off, we need to talk about textures. In Unity, textures play a key role in making your game art visually appealing. However, it's not just about slapping any texture on your 3D models. To elevate your game art, you need to use high-quality textures. Now, let's see why they're so important and how you can make the most of them.

Why High-Quality Textures Matter

Think of textures as the skin of your 3D models. They add details and realism to your game objects, making the game world more immersive. When you use high-quality textures, you're elevating the visual experience of your game. It's like the difference between watching a movie in 4K versus standard definition—you notice more details, and the overall experience is richer.

Choosing the Right Textures

  • Resolution: When it comes to textures, bigger isn't always better. Sure, high-resolution textures look fantastic, but they can also slow down your game. So, find a balance between visual quality and performance. A texture that's too big can slow down your game, but one that's too small can look blurry.
  • Seamless: Seamless textures are your best friend in Unity. These textures can tile without showing noticeable edges, making them perfect for large surfaces like ground, walls, and skyboxes.
  • Material: The material of the texture also matters. For example, a metallic texture might not look right on a wooden object. So, make sure you're using appropriate materials for your game objects.

Creating and Applying Textures in Unity

To create your own high-quality textures, you can use software like Photoshop or GIMP. However, there are also many websites where you can download free textures. Once you've got your texture, applying it in Unity is straightforward. Simply import the texture, create a new material, and apply the texture to it. Then, assign the material to your game object, and voila—you've just improved your game art in Unity!

Remember: using high-quality textures is a fundamental step towards getting better at game art in Unity. So take the time to understand and apply this technique—it'll be worth it when you see your game's visuals come to life!

Optimize 3D Models

Moving onto our second technique, we delve into the realm of 3D models. These are the building blocks of your game world, and optimizing them is a must for improving your game art in Unity. But what does 'optimization' mean in this context? Let's break it down.

What is 3D Model Optimization?

3D model optimization is all about finding the perfect balance between visual quality and performance. A highly detailed model with millions of polygons might look amazing, but it can also make your game run slower. So, the goal of optimization is to make your models look good without compromising your game's performance.

Reducing Poly Count

One of the most effective ways to optimize your 3D models is by reducing their poly count. This means simplifying the model by reducing the number of polygons it contains. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Use a 3D modeling software: Software like Blender or Maya have tools that allow you to reduce the poly count of your models without drastically changing their appearance.
  2. Be mindful of unseen polygons: Often, a model will have polygons that are never visible to the player. These could be on the underside of an object or inside a closed space. Removing these unseen polygons can significantly reduce your poly count.

Level of Detail (LOD)

Another technique for optimizing your 3D models is using Level of Detail (LOD). This is a system that reduces the complexity of a 3D model based on its distance from the camera. In other words, when the model is far away, Unity will render a simpler version of it. As the model gets closer, Unity will gradually replace it with more detailed versions.

Unity has built-in support for LOD, which makes it easy for you to implement this technique in your game. So, by combining poly count reduction with LOD, you can significantly optimize your 3D models, taking a huge step towards getting better at game art in Unity.

Optimizing 3D models might seem like a daunting task, but it's a crucial aspect of game art. With practice, you'll develop a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to balance quality and performance. Now, that's what you call leveling up your game art skills in Unity!

Implement Lighting Techniques

Now that you've got a handle on optimizing 3D models, let's flip the switch and illuminate another technique - lighting. The right lighting can bring your game art to life, creating mood, highlighting key elements and adding a touch of realism. So, how do you light up your world in Unity? Let's dive in.

Understanding Lighting Types

Unity offers three main types of lights: directional, point, and spot. But what's the difference between them, and when should you use each one?

  • Directional Lights: Think of these as your in-game sun. They light up everything equally, regardless of distance.
  • Point Lights: These are like light bulbs. They emit light in all directions, and the intensity diminishes with distance.
  • Spot Lights: Think of these as a flashlight or a spotlight on a stage. They illuminate a specific area in a cone shape.

Mastering Shadows

Where there's light, there's shadow. And in game art, shadows are just as important as the light sources themselves. They add depth and realism, helping players understand the layout of the game world. But be careful — too many shadows can make your game look dark and hard to navigate. The key here is balance.

Using Light Probes

Ever wonder how to get that realistic bounce light effect? Welcome to the world of light probes. These little helpers calculate how light interacts with your environment, creating realistic indirect lighting. Place them around your scene, and watch as they work their magic, enhancing the realism and depth of your game art in Unity.

Implementing effective lighting techniques is another important step in getting better at game art in Unity. By understanding the different types of lights, mastering shadows, and harnessing the power of light probes, you'll be well on your way to creating stunning, immersive game environments.

Apply Shaders Effectively

Alright, we've seen the light, so now let's add some color to our game world. Shaders are the secret sauce that can take your game art from good to great. They control how your game displays colors, textures, and light, impacting everything from the shine on a character's armor to the ripple of water in a pond. To get better at game art in Unity, you need to become a shader whisperer. Let's explore how.

Shader Types

Unity offers a variety of shaders, each with its own unique properties. Here are the main ones you'll be using:

  1. Standard Shaders: These are your go-to shaders. They simulate a wide range of real-world materials, from metal and glass to wood and stone.
  2. Mobile Shaders: Working on a mobile game? These shaders are optimized for mobile devices, helping you maintain performance while still looking great.
  3. Sprite Shaders: If you're dealing with 2D game art, sprite shaders are your best friends. They handle transparency, color tinting, and more for your 2D sprites.

Shader Graph

Don't be scared of the Shader Graph. It's actually a powerful visual tool that allows you to create and edit shaders without typing a single line of code. You can experiment with different nodes, tweak parameters, and instantly see the results. It's like a playground for your artistic instincts!

Custom Shaders

Feeling adventurous? Try creating custom shaders. By writing your own shader code, you can create unique visual effects that distinguish your game from others. Remember, Unity uses a language called ShaderLab for custom shaders, so you might want to brush up on that.

Applying shaders effectively is a key part of getting better at game art in Unity. By understanding and utilizing the different shader types, mastering the Shader Graph, and even venturing into custom shaders, you can add a whole new level of polish and style to your game art.

Practice Particle Effects

Now that we've ventured into shaders, let's add some sparks to the mix. Particle effects! They're the cherries on top of the game art sundae. From magical spells to gusts of wind, particle effects add life and motion to your game world. If you're keen on getting better at game art in Unity, mastering particle effects is a must. Let's dive in.

Particle System Basics

Unity's Particle System is a magical toolbox for creating a wide variety of effects. Here are some things you can do with it:

  1. Emitters: These are the source of your particles. You can control their size, shape, and how fast they spit out particles.
  2. Particles: These are the tiny graphics that make up your effect. You can customize their color, size, life span, and more.
  3. Physics: Want your particles to bounce, swirl, or float? The Particle System's built-in physics controls let you do just that.

Creating Effects

Creating effective particle effects is all about layering. Start with a basic effect, then add more elements to it. Maybe you begin with a simple puff of smoke, then add sparks and embers, then some light and heat distortion. Before you know it, you've created a roaring fire!

Optimizing Effects

Particle effects can be beautiful, but they can also be resource-hungry. So, it's important to optimize your effects to ensure they don't slow down your game. Unity provides tools like the Particle System Profiler to help you keep things running smoothly.

Practicing particle effects is a powerful way of getting better at game art in Unity. With a solid grasp of the Particle System's features and some time spent experimenting and optimizing, you can create stunning effects that breathe life into your game world.

If you're eager to further enhance your game art skills in Unity, we highly recommend the workshop 'Taking Your Concept Art To The Next Level' by Lily Stock. In this workshop, you'll learn valuable techniques and insights that will help you create stunning game art and take your projects to new heights.