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New: Nature Shaders

Interaction, Wind, Dynamic Masking, and Better Shading for your vegetation.

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Nature Assets

Requires the full Nature Shaders package.

Not supported in Nature Shaders Essentials. (Learn more)

Nature Assets are used to set up models and materials for use with Nature Shaders, or to convert models from third-party assets. It is recommended to create a Nature Asset for each model or prefab that you want to use with Nature Shaders.

What happens when you create a Nature Asset? The following:

For Materials:
A copy of the original material is created and saved in the Nature Asset, and then one of the shaders that comes with Nature Shaders is assigned to the material. During this process the properties of the material are copied over or modified from the original material.
For Meshes:
A copy of the original mesh is created and saved in the Nature Asset. The mesh will be analyzed to find its shape and unique features, and then additional data is saved for each vertex to set up wind and interaction for the mesh.

The original prefabs, meshes, and materials are kept in your project, and if you modify the original assets then the Nature Asset will automatically update with the changes.

Follow these steps to create a Nature Asset:

  1. Create a Nature Asset
  2. Select Material Types
  3. Double-check Mesh Types
  4. Use the result
  5. Tweak additional settings

Step 1. Create a Nature Asset

Right-click on a model or prefab in the project window and select Create > Nature Asset from the dropdown menu. This will create a new nature asset in your project and automatically assign the model/prefab as the source.

Tip: You can select multiple models and/or prefabs to create multiple nature assets at once.

nature-shaders-create-nature-asset-for-prefab.jpg

The Nature Asset is created in the same folder and with the same name as the prefab. You can recognize the new asset by the green leaf icon (see image below). Select the Nature Asset to see its import/conversion settings in the inspector. All the converted assets are stored inside the Nature Asset as an embedded asset.

Source
The original prefab or model. This is the prefab/model that will be converted.
Format
The format of the original prefab/model. For most models this should be set to "Automatic".
Renderer Settings
The settings that are applied to the Mesh Renderers in the prefab. Override individual properties to set the value. If the property is not overridden then the settings from the original prefab are used.
Material Conversion
The conversion settings for each material that is used by the model. More information in the next steps below.
Mesh Conversion
The conversion settings for each mesh in the model. More information in the next steps below.

nature-shaders-nature-asset-inspector.jpg

Step 2. Select Material Types

The most important configuration for nature assets is the material type that is selected for each material. This material type is used to select the correct shader for the converted material and to analyze the (sub)meshes in the model. Different material types will give different results for wind, interaction, and other material features.

Select the material type for each material using the dropdown next to the material name:

Auto
Automatically selects the material type based on the name of the material. You can see the selected type behind the dropdown. Note that the result is not always correct, so you may have to manually select the correct type.
Grass
Select for grass patches.
Plant
Select for all types of vegetation that are not grass or trees.
Tree Leaves
Select for the leaves of trees, this ensures correct wind behavior for trees.
Tree Bark
Select for the trunk of trees, this ensures correct wind behavior for trees.
Tree Billboard
Select this only if the material is used by a Billboard Renderer component or Billboard Asset. If the prefab uses a regular mesh as a billboard then select either Tree Leaves or Plant.
Override
Manually select a material that should be used. The original material will not be converted, instead it will be replaced with the selected material.

nature-shaders-nature-asset-material-conversion-settings.jpg

Step 3. Double-Check Mesh Types

The mesh types are selected automatically based on the material type and are usually correct. However, if you choose to override a material then the mesh type may not be resolved automatically, in which case you'll have to select the Mesh Type manually. 

Mesh Types have the same names as Material Types so selecting the type should be straightforward, just select the mesh type that matches with the material.

nature-shaders-nature-asset-mesh-conversion-settings.jpg

Step 4. Use The Result

To use the result drag the Nature Asset into the scene, it behaves just like a regular model. You can move, modify, or nest it like any other object. Note that it is not a prefab, so you can't apply the modifications to the asset. You also can't modify the material directly unless you extract it (see below).

The reason that the modifications can't be applied and that materials can't be edited is that the objects/materials are created dynamically based on the Nature Asset's settings, just like regular models. If you need to make more modifications to the Nature Asset then you can do so using the methods in the next step below.

nature-shaders-use-nature-asset-in-scene.jpg

Step 5. Tweak Additional Settings

The Nature Asset should now be ready for use, but it is likely that the default settings do not give the exact result that you want. You can edit the following settings to tweak the result:

Materials

Click on a material in the Material Conversion section to expand it and show its settings. Here you can enable/disable individual material features, or override individual material properties. To override a property click the "Add Property" button and select a property.

nature-shaders-nature-asset-expand-material-import-settings.jpg

If you need to override a lot of properties or if you need precise control then this list may too cumbersome to navigate. To make the material easier to edit, click on "Extract and edit material". The material will be saved in the project so that you can edit it directly.

See the Material Editor article for an overview of all the material properties that can be edited.

Meshes

Meshes have a few additional settings that determine how the mesh is analyzed, and to tweak the data that is baked into the mesh:

nature-shaders-nature-asset-tweak-mesh-settings.jpg

Mesh Complexity
Set to "Complex" if this model has a complex shape. Recommended for trees and larger plants. Complex models have their entire shape analyzed, and a branch hierarchy is built to determine how each tree branch is connected to other branches. This will apply correct per-branch wind, and transforms the resulting wind animations from good to great.
Axis Orientation
Unity uses a Y-Up orientation. You may have a model in your project that was exported using a Z-Up orientation. Select the orientation that the model uses here to correctly convert it to Y-Up. "Automatic" determines the correct orientation for most meshes, but sometimes you may have to set this manually.
Trunk Has Colliders
Enable if the model is a tree, has colliders on the trunk, and has an irregular shape (such as a bent palm tree). If the model complexity is set to "Simple" then the colliders are used to determine the shape of the model. The colliders are assumed to represent the tree trunk.
Note: Can be ignored if the Mesh Complexity is set to "Complex". The colliders are only used as a fallback.
Note: Only supports Capsule Colliders.
Example of a tree with an irregular shape and colliders:
nature-shaders-nature-asset-trunk-colliders.jpg
Branch Wind Scale
Adjust the amount of wind that is applied to the branches of a tree. The default value is 1, a value of 0.5 will reduce the wind strength by 50%, a value of 1.5 will increase the wind strength.
Leaf Wind Scale
Adjust the amount of wind that is applied to the leaves of a tree. The default value is 1, a value of 0.5 will reduce the wind strength by 50%, a value of 1.5 will increase the wind strength.
Wind Variation
The amount of wind variation that is applied to the model. This adds a phase/time offset to the wind, it does not affect the wind strength.
For example: when set to 0, all branches of a tree will move at the same time. When set to 1 or 2, each individual branch of the tree will move at a different time.
Remove Double-Sided Faces
Removes all triangles from the mesh that are double-sided. Nature Shaders uses a material property to enable double-sided rendering, so there is no need to have actual double-sided geometry.

Game Object

The Game Object itself can't be edited directly from the import settings. To edit the game object you can either:

  • Modify the original prefab/model. The Nature Asset will automatically update if the original prefab changed.
  • Or create a new Prefab Variant for the Nature Asset (Right-click on the Nature Asset and select Create > Prefab Variant). You can then edit the prefab variant like a regular prefab and use it in your scene.
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