Surface Shaders and rendering paths
In the Built-in Render PipelineA series of operations that take the contents of a Scene, and displays them on a screen. Unity lets you choose from pre-built render pipelines, or write your own. More info
See in Glossary, when using a Surface ShaderA streamlined way of writing shaders for the Built-in Render Pipeline. More info
See in Glossary, how lighting is applied and which Passes of the shaderA program that runs on the GPU. More info
See in Glossary are used depends on which rendering pathThe technique that a render pipeline uses to render graphics. Choosing a different rendering path affects how lighting and shading are calculated. Some rendering paths are more suited to different platforms and hardware than others. More info
See in Glossary is used. Each pass in a shader communicates its lighting type via Pass Tags.
|Built-in Render Pipeline
|Universal Render Pipeline (URP)
|High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP)
For a streamlined way of creating Shader objects in URP, see Shader Graph.
For a streamlined way of creating Shader objects in HDRP, see Shader Graph.
ForwardAdd passes are used.
Deferred pass is used.
PrepassFinal passes are used.
VertexLM passes are used.
ShadowCaster pass is used.
ForwardBase pass renders ambient, lightmapsA pre-rendered texture that contains the effects of light sources on static objects in the scene. Lightmaps are overlaid on top of scene geometry to create the effect of lighting. More info
See in Glossary, main directional light and not important (vertex/SH) lights at once.
ForwardAdd pass is used for any additive per-pixel lights; one invocation per object illuminated by such light is done. See Forward Rendering for details.
If forward rendering is used, but a shader does not have forward-suitable passes (i.e. neither
ForwardAdd pass types are present), then that object is rendered just like it would in Vertex Lit path, see below.
Deferred pass renders all information needed for lighting (in built-in shaders: diffuse color, specular color, smoothness,
world space normal, emission). It also adds lightmaps, reflection probes and ambient lighting into the emission channel. See Deferred Shading for details.
PrepassBase pass renders normals & specular exponent;
PrepassFinal pass renders final color by combining textures, lighting & emissive material properties. All regular in-scene lighting is done separately in screen-space. See Deferred Lighting for details.
Since vertex lighting is most often used on platforms that do not support programmable shaders, Unity can’t create multiple shader variants internally to handle lightmapped vs. non-lightmapped cases. So to handle lightmapped and non-lightmapped objects, multiple passes have to be written explicitly.
Vertex pass is used for non-lightmapped objects. All lights are rendered at once, using a fixed function OpenGL/Direct3D lighting model (Blinn-Phong)
VertexLMRGBM pass is used for lightmapped objects, when lightmaps are RGBM encoded (PC and consoles). No realtime lighting is applied; pass is expected to combine textures with a lightmap.
VertexLM pass is used for lightmapped objects, when lightmaps are double-LDR encoded (mobile platforms). No realtime lighting is applied; pass is expected to combine textures with a lightmap.