Stylized Water 2 documentation

Stylized Water 2

Stylized Water 2
Version: 1.2.0
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4.1.Shader #

The shader is set to a material, which in turn can be applied to a mesh, business as usual. It will always render in Forward rendering, due to its transparent nature.

All the shader parameters have tooltips, if you’re unsure what something is for, mouse over to view a description. (Possibly bugged in earlier versions)

Shading modes

The advanced shading mode takes more liberty and focuses on high-end rendering. If water in your game is only something  that’s viewed in the background, or viewed from a top-down perspective it will offer little benefit. The “Simple” shading mode should always be used on mobile hardware.

Compared to the “Simple” shading mode it does:

  • Chromatic refractions, color channels are split one pixel apart
  • Caustics/sun reflection masking, even if the water does not receive shadows, the shadow map is read to avoid these effects being visible in shadows.
  • Translucency color is blended with the light color more accurately.
  • Double-sampling of refraction, which makes the color gradient also appear refracted.
  • 2nd normal map sample for distance normals.

Transparency mask

It’s possible to hide the water in front of another mesh, in order to create visible holes in the water. This can be used to hide the water inside boats.

In order to do so, look for the “WaterTransparencyMask” material found in the StylizedWater2/Materials folder, and assign it to a mesh (such as a plane).

Note that this hides every transparent material behind it, that has an identical or higher render queue, not just the water.

Toggling features in a build

The shader makes use of keywords, which allows specific code to be executed or bypassed entirely. Similar to C# scripting define symbols. The keyword states are saved on the material.

When building the project to the target device, Unity will compile multiple variants of the shader code. For example, one version where point/spot lights are disabled, and another where they are enabled. Ultimately, this allows for quality/performance scaling in real time. This is called a Multi-compile keyword.

For many features such as normal maps, foam and waves this isn’t the case. If a feature isn’t enabled on the material, and the project is built, a shader variant won’t be created with the feature disabled. This means you can’t toggle a feature on/off anymore. This is because the keyword is a Shader feature. This behaviour is by design though. Because multi-compile keywords exponentially increase the amount of shader variants/permutations. Using this for every feature can result in up to 2 million shader variants, which greatly affects build times (by hours).

To learn more about this, see the related Unity manual page.

Should it be important to still allow a feature to be toggled, you can modify the shader to convert a keyword into a multi-compile variant. To do so, open up the StylizedWater2.shader file. Locate the line(s) that read #pragma shader_feature_local _WAVES and replace this with #pragma multi_compile_local _ _WAVES. You can repeat this for any other keyword.

After which, you can toggle the keyword state on a specific material through material.SetKeyword("_WAVES", true/false);.

An (perhaps easier) workaround is to create two materials. One with the feature enabled, and another one with it disabled. You’d only need to use one of these in the scene. But as long as both materials are included in a build, a shader variant for both permutations will be compiled into the build, allowing it to be toggled on/off.

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Last updated on March 31, 2022
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