GLSL Programming/Unity/Glossy Textures

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Sun set with a specular highlight in the Pacific Ocean as seen from the International Space Station (ISS).

This tutorial covers per-pixel lighting of partially glossy, textured surfaces.

It combines the shader code of Section “Textured Spheres” and Section “Smooth Specular Highlights” to compute per-pixel lighting with a material color for diffuse reflection that is determined by the RGB components of a texture and an intensity of the specular reflection that is determined by the A component of the same texture. If you haven't read those sections, this would be a very good opportunity to read them.

Gloss Mapping[edit]

In Section “Lighting Textured Surfaces”, the material constant for the diffuse reflection was determined by the RGB components of a texture image. Here we extend this technique and determine the strength of the specular reflection by the A (alpha) component of the same texture image. Using only one texture offers a significant performance advantage, in particular because an RGBA texture lookup is under certain circumstances just as expensive as an RGB texture lookup.

If the “gloss” of a texture image (i.e. the strength of the specular reflection) is encoded in the A (alpha) component of an RGBA texture image, we can simply multiply the material constant for the specular reflection k_\text{specular} with the alpha component of the texture image. k_\text{specular} was introduced in Section “Specular Highlights” and appears in the specular reflection term of the Phong reflection model:

I_\text{specular} = I_\text{incoming}\,k_\text{specular} \max(0, \mathbf{R}\cdot \mathbf{V})^{n_\text{shininess}}

If multiplied with the alpha component of the texture image, this term reaches its maximum (i.e. the surface is glossy) where alpha is 1, and it is 0 (i.e. the surface is not glossy at all) where alpha is 0.

Map of the Earth with transparent water, i.e. the alpha component is 0 for water and 1 for land.

Shader Code for Per-Pixel Lighting[edit]

The shader code is a combination of the per-pixel lighting from Section “Smooth Specular Highlights” and the texturing from Section “Textured Spheres”. Similarly to Section “Lighting Textured Surfaces”, the RGB components of the texture color in textureColor is multiplied to the diffuse material color _Color.

In the particular texture image to the left, the alpha component is 0 for water and 1 for land. However, it should be the water that is glossy and the land that isn't. Thus, with this particular image, we should multiply the specular material color with (1.0 - textureColor.a). On the other hand, usual gloss maps would require a multiplication with textureColor.a. (Note how easy it is to make this kind of changes to a shader program.)

Shader "GLSL per-pixel lighting with texture" {
   Properties {
      _MainTex ("RGBA Texture For Material Color", 2D) = "white" {} 
      _Color ("Diffuse Material Color", Color) = (1,1,1,1) 
      _SpecColor ("Specular Material Color", Color) = (1,1,1,1) 
      _Shininess ("Shininess", Float) = 10
   }
   SubShader {
      Pass {	
         Tags { "LightMode" = "ForwardBase" } 
            // pass for ambient light and first light source
 
         GLSLPROGRAM
 
         // User-specified properties
         uniform sampler2D _MainTex;
         uniform vec4 _Color; 
         uniform vec4 _SpecColor; 
         uniform float _Shininess;
 
         // The following built-in uniforms (except _LightColor0) 
         // are also defined in "UnityCG.glslinc", 
         // i.e. one could #include "UnityCG.glslinc" 
         uniform vec3 _WorldSpaceCameraPos; 
            // camera position in world space
         uniform mat4 _Object2World; // model matrix
         uniform mat4 _World2Object; // inverse model matrix
         uniform vec4 _WorldSpaceLightPos0; 
            // direction to or position of light source
         uniform vec4 _LightColor0; 
            // color of light source (from "Lighting.cginc")
 
         varying vec4 position; 
            // position of the vertex (and fragment) in world space 
         varying vec3 varyingNormalDirection; 
            // surface normal vector in world space
         varying vec4 textureCoordinates; 
 
         #ifdef VERTEX
 
         void main()
         {				
            mat4 modelMatrix = _Object2World;
            mat4 modelMatrixInverse = _World2Object; // unity_Scale.w 
               // is unnecessary because we normalize vectors
 
            position = modelMatrix * gl_Vertex;
            varyingNormalDirection = normalize(vec3(
               vec4(gl_Normal, 0.0) * modelMatrixInverse));
 
            gl_Position = gl_ModelViewProjectionMatrix * gl_Vertex;
            textureCoordinates = gl_MultiTexCoord0;
         }
 
         #endif
 
         #ifdef FRAGMENT
 
         void main()
         {
            vec3 normalDirection = normalize(varyingNormalDirection);
 
            vec3 viewDirection = 
               normalize(_WorldSpaceCameraPos - vec3(position));
            vec3 lightDirection;
            float attenuation;
 
            vec4 textureColor = 
               texture2D(_MainTex, vec2(textureCoordinates));
 
            if (0.0 == _WorldSpaceLightPos0.w) // directional light?
            {
               attenuation = 1.0; // no attenuation
               lightDirection = normalize(vec3(_WorldSpaceLightPos0));
            } 
            else // point or spot light
            {
               vec3 vertexToLightSource = 
                  vec3(_WorldSpaceLightPos0 - position);
               float distance = length(vertexToLightSource);
               attenuation = 1.0 / distance; // linear attenuation 
               lightDirection = normalize(vertexToLightSource);
            }
 
            vec3 ambientLighting = vec3(gl_LightModel.ambient) 
               * vec3(_Color) * vec3(textureColor);
 
            vec3 diffuseReflection = attenuation * vec3(_LightColor0) 
               * vec3(_Color) * vec3(textureColor) 
               * max(0.0, dot(normalDirection, lightDirection));
 
            vec3 specularReflection;
            if (dot(normalDirection, lightDirection) < 0.0) 
               // light source on the wrong side?
            {
               specularReflection = vec3(0.0, 0.0, 0.0); 
                  // no specular reflection
            }
            else // light source on the right side
            {
               specularReflection = attenuation * vec3(_LightColor0) 
                  * vec3(_SpecColor) * (1.0 - textureColor.a) 
                     // for usual gloss maps: "... * textureColor.a"
                  * pow(max(0.0, dot(
                  reflect(-lightDirection, normalDirection), 
                  viewDirection)), _Shininess);
            }
 
            gl_FragColor = vec4(ambientLighting 
               + diffuseReflection + specularReflection, 1.0);
         }
 
         #endif
 
         ENDGLSL
      }
 
      Pass {	
         Tags { "LightMode" = "ForwardAdd" } 
            // pass for additional light sources
         Blend One One // additive blending 
 
 
         GLSLPROGRAM
 
         // User-specified properties
         uniform sampler2D _MainTex;
         uniform vec4 _Color; 
         uniform vec4 _SpecColor; 
         uniform float _Shininess;
 
         // The following built-in uniforms (except _LightColor0) 
         // are also defined in "UnityCG.glslinc", 
         // i.e. one could #include "UnityCG.glslinc" 
         uniform vec3 _WorldSpaceCameraPos; 
            // camera position in world space
         uniform mat4 _Object2World; // model matrix
         uniform mat4 _World2Object; // inverse model matrix
         uniform vec4 _WorldSpaceLightPos0; 
            // direction to or position of light source
         uniform vec4 _LightColor0; 
            // color of light source (from "Lighting.cginc")
 
         varying vec4 position; 
            // position of the vertex (and fragment) in world space 
         varying vec3 varyingNormalDirection; 
            // surface normal vector in world space
         varying vec4 textureCoordinates; 
 
         #ifdef VERTEX
 
         void main()
         {				
            mat4 modelMatrix = _Object2World;
            mat4 modelMatrixInverse = _World2Object; // unity_Scale.w 
               // is unnecessary because we normalize vectors
 
            position = modelMatrix * gl_Vertex;
            varyingNormalDirection = normalize(vec3(
               vec4(gl_Normal, 0.0) * modelMatrixInverse));
 
            gl_Position = gl_ModelViewProjectionMatrix * gl_Vertex;
            textureCoordinates = gl_MultiTexCoord0;
         }
 
         #endif
 
         #ifdef FRAGMENT
 
         void main()
         {
            vec3 normalDirection = normalize(varyingNormalDirection);
 
            vec3 viewDirection = 
               normalize(_WorldSpaceCameraPos - vec3(position));
            vec3 lightDirection;
            float attenuation;
 
            vec4 textureColor = 
               texture2D(_MainTex, vec2(textureCoordinates));
 
            if (0.0 == _WorldSpaceLightPos0.w) // directional light?
            {
               attenuation = 1.0; // no attenuation
               lightDirection = normalize(vec3(_WorldSpaceLightPos0));
            } 
            else // point or spot light
            {
               vec3 vertexToLightSource = 
                  vec3(_WorldSpaceLightPos0 - position);
               float distance = length(vertexToLightSource);
               attenuation = 1.0 / distance; // linear attenuation 
               lightDirection = normalize(vertexToLightSource);
            }
 
            vec3 diffuseReflection = attenuation * vec3(_LightColor0) 
               * vec3(_Color) * vec3(textureColor) 
               * max(0.0, dot(normalDirection, lightDirection));
 
            vec3 specularReflection;
            if (dot(normalDirection, lightDirection) < 0.0) 
               // light source on the wrong side?
            {
               specularReflection = vec3(0.0, 0.0, 0.0); 
                  // no specular reflection
            }
            else // light source on the right side
            {
               specularReflection = attenuation * vec3(_LightColor0) 
                  * vec3(_SpecColor) * (1.0 - textureColor.a) 
                     // for usual gloss maps: "... * textureColor.a"
                  * pow(max(0.0, dot(
                  reflect(-lightDirection, normalDirection), 
                  viewDirection)), _Shininess);
            }
 
            gl_FragColor = 
               vec4(diffuseReflection + specularReflection, 1.0);
         }
 
         #endif
 
         ENDGLSL
      }
   } 
   // The definition of a fallback shader should be commented out 
   // during development:
   // Fallback "Specular"
}

A useful modification of this shader for the particular texture image above, would be to set the diffuse material color to a dark blue where the alpha component is 0.

Shader Code for Per-Vertex Lighting[edit]

As discussed in Section “Smooth Specular Highlights”, specular highlights are usually not rendered very well with per-vertex lighting. Sometimes, however, there is no choice because of performance limitations. In order to include gloss mapping in the shader code of Section “Lighting Textured Surfaces”, the fragment shaders of both passes should be replaced with this code:

         #ifdef FRAGMENT
 
         void main()
         {
            vec4 textureColor = 
               texture2D(_MainTex, vec2(textureCoordinates));
            gl_FragColor = vec4(diffuseColor * vec3(textureColor)
               + specularColor * (1.0 - textureColor.a), 1.0);
         }
 
         #endif

Note that a usual gloss map would require a multiplication with textureColor.a instead of (1.0 - textureColor.a).

Summary[edit]

Congratulations! You finished an important tutorial about gloss mapping. We have looked at:

  • What gloss mapping is.
  • How to implement it for per-pixel lighting.
  • How to implement it for per-vertex lighting.

Further Reading[edit]

If you still want to learn more


< GLSL Programming/Unity

Unless stated otherwise, all example source code on this page is granted to the public domain.