Version: 2019.3
Movie Textures
Texture arrays

3D textures

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A 3D texture is a bitmap image that contains information in three dimensions rather than the standard two. 3D textures are commonly used to simulate volumetric effects such as fog or smoke, to approximate a volumetric 3D meshThe main graphics primitive of Unity. Meshes make up a large part of your 3D worlds. Unity supports triangulated or Quadrangulated polygon meshes. Nurbs, Nurms, Subdiv surfaces must be converted to polygons. More info
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, or to store animated textures and blend between them smoothly.

In your Unity Project, the Unity Editor represents 3D textures as Texture Assets. To configure a Texture Asset’s import settings you can select the Texture Asset and use the InspectorA Unity window that displays information about the currently selected GameObject, Asset or Project Settings, alowing you to inspect and edit the values. More info
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, or write a script that uses the TextureImporter API.

In the Unity engine, Unity uses the Texture3D class to represent 3D textures. Use this class to interact with 3D textures in C# scriptsA piece of code that allows you to create your own Components, trigger game events, modify Component properties over time and respond to user input in any way you like. More info
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3D texture size

The maximum resolution of a 3D texture is 2048 x 2048 x 2048.

Be aware that the size of a 3D texture in memory and on disk increases quickly as its resolution increases. An RGBA32 3D texture with no mip maps and a resolution of 16 x 16 x 16 has a size of 128KB, but with a resolution of 256 x 256 x 256 it has a size of 512MB.

Creating a 3D texture

To create a 3D texture in your Project, you must use a script.

The following example is an Editor script that creates an instance of the Texture3D class, populates it with color data, and then saves it to your Project as a Texture Asset.

using UnityEditor;
using UnityEngine;

public class ExampleEditorScript : MonoBehaviour
    static void CreateTexture3D()
        // Configure the texture
        int size = 32;
        TextureFormat format = TextureFormat.RGBA32;
        TextureWrapMode wrapMode =  TextureWrapMode.Clamp;

        // Create the texture and apply the configuration
        Texture3D texture = new Texture3D(size, size, size, format, false);
        texture.wrapMode = wrapMode;

        // Create a 3-dimensional array to store color data
        Color[] colors = new Color[size * size * size];

        // Populate the array so that the x, y, and z values of the texture will map to red, blue, and green colors
        float inverseResolution = 1.0f / (size - 1.0f);
        for (int z = 0; z < size; z++)
            int zOffset = z * size * size;
            for (int y = 0; y < size; y++)
                int yOffset = y * size;
                for (int x = 0; x < size; x++)
                    colors[x + yOffset + zOffset] = new Color(x * inverseResolution,
                        y * inverseResolution, z * inverseResolution, 1.0f);

        // Copy the color values to the texture

        // Apply the changes to the texture and upload the updated texture to the GPU

        // Save the texture to your Unity Project
        AssetDatabase.CreateAsset(texture, "Assets/Example3DTexture.asset");

Using a 3D texture in a shader

Here is an example of a simple raymarching shaderA small script that contains the mathematical calculations and algorithms for calculating the Color of each pixel rendered, based on the lighting input and the Material configuration. More info
See in Glossary
that uses a 3D texture to visualize a volume.

Shader "Unlit/VolumeShader"
        _MainTex ("Texture", 3D) = "white" {}
        _Alpha ("Alpha", float) = 0.02
        _StepSize ("Step Size", float) = 0.01
        Tags { "Queue" = "Transparent" "RenderType" = "Transparent" }
        Blend One OneMinusSrcAlpha
        LOD 100

            #pragma vertex vert
            #pragma fragment frag

            #include "UnityCG.cginc"

            // Maximum amount of raymarching samples
            #define MAX_STEP_COUNT 128

            // Allowed floating point inaccuracy
            #define EPSILON 0.00001f

            struct appdata
                float4 vertex : POSITION;

            struct v2f
                float4 vertex : SV_POSITION;
                float3 objectVertex : TEXCOORD0;
                float3 vectorToSurface : TEXCOORD1;

            sampler3D _MainTex;
            float4 _MainTex_ST;
            float _Alpha;
            float _StepSize;

            v2f vert (appdata v)
                v2f o;

                // Vertex in object space this will be the starting point of raymarching
                o.objectVertex = v.vertex;

                // Calculate vector from camera to vertex in world space
                float3 worldVertex = mul(unity_ObjectToWorld, v.vertex).xyz;
                o.vectorToSurface = worldVertex - _WorldSpaceCameraPos;

                o.vertex = UnityObjectToClipPos(v.vertex);
                return o;

            float4 BlendUnder(float4 color, float4 newColor)
                color.rgb += (1.0 - color.a) * newColor.a * newColor.rgb;
                color.a += (1.0 - color.a) * newColor.a;
                return color;

            fixed4 frag(v2f i) : SV_Target
                // Start raymarching at the front surface of the object
                float3 rayOrigin = i.objectVertex;

                // Use vector from camera to object surface to get ray direction
                float3 rayDirection = mul(unity_WorldToObject, float4(normalize(i.vectorToSurface), 1));

                float4 color = float4(0, 0, 0, 0);
                float3 samplePosition = rayOrigin;

                // Raymarch through object space
                for (int i = 0; i < MAX_STEP_COUNT; i++)
                    // Accumulate color only within unit cube bounds
                    if(max(abs(samplePosition.x), max(abs(samplePosition.y), abs(samplePosition.z))) < 0.5f + EPSILON)
                        float4 sampledColor = tex3D(_MainTex, samplePosition + float3(0.5f, 0.5f, 0.5f));
                        sampledColor.a *= _Alpha;
                        color = BlendUnder(color, sampledColor);
                        samplePosition += rayDirection * _StepSize;

                return color;

If you use this shader with the 3D texture created in the example at the top of the page, the result looks like this:

Movie Textures
Texture arrays