Different Lights in Unity

In existence, light is made up of photons, and in some cases, it can possess some characteristics of matter. Light also gives us what the eye can see, and without light, there is darkness.

In Unity, it is important to understand the different light sources to light your scene. A rule of thumb is to light areas and objects that are important. Lighting leads the eye, so it is meaningful to understand the fundamentals of lighting and how it works in Unity if you want to become a good level designer.

The Four Types of Light Sources

  • Directional Light
  • Point Light
  • Spot Light
  • Area Light

Directional Light

Directional light can be described as behaving like a sun. It emits light in one direction infinitely from far away. When placed into the scene, it will illuminate all game objects and cast shadows.

Point Light

Point light sends out light equally in all directions within a radius. They are useful for simulating lamps, bulbs, and other sources of light in a scene.

Spot Light

Spotlights are like a point light but cut in half to a 180' angle. It is a cone-shaped light that only illuminates from within. They are used for flashlights, car headlights, and other ideas to make scenes visually moody.

Area Light

Area lights are defined by a rectangular shape and emit light from one side. The emitted light spreads evenly across where it is placed, resulting in softer shading than the other types. They also are meant to be baked, meaning that the light will hit objects only if the game object is static.

Now that we have a brief overview of all light sources, it’s time to use them to our advantage!

One thing to note is that there is a limit for the Universal Render Pipeline as to how many light sources you use. You can only use 8. It’s a bummer so it’s crucial to place them in areas that are important. If you need more, you can use emission textures that can fake lighting. The Standard Render Pipeline and the High Definition Render pipeline has no limit for placing light sources. Choose wisely.

Have fun! And remember, use lighting in a meaningful way and don’t overdo it!




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