Cinematic Stealth Project — Reflections

Giving marble the polish it needs in Unity!

Pablo Gómez Platón
4 min readJun 19, 2021

The last step to improve the look of my game is to give this luxurious room some reflections. Unity provides two great tools to get amazing reflection results: Reflection Probe, and Screen Space Reflections in the Post Processing package. There are some differences between these two, so, I’m going to show you how to use both tools and when you should use them!

The Scene without Reflections or Post Processing

Without any tools, any smooth material will probably look like the marble floor here: It will only reflect the skybox, and, while it would probably look great outdoors, but it sure looks bad indoors. Also, look at the windows! It has no glow or shine to it, and almost seems there aren’t any! Let’s fix that!

Reflection Probe

A Reflection Probe is the default Unity option to create reflections. In contrast to the Light Probes, you will only have to adjust a cube volume! The volume should be inside the bounds of your room or area, avoiding clipping with the walls, floor and roof.

Depending how you want your reflections, you have different reflection settings. The most important ones are:

  • Type of reflection (real-time, baked or custom)
  • Resolution of the reflection (a higher resolution will produce quality reflections but at a performance cost)
  • Culling mask (to avoid certain objects to be included in the reflection).

In my case, I will use the Baked setting, and click on the Bake button to start creating the reflection! Once baked, your Reflection Probe will render the enviroment which you can either see in the Scene or in the Inspector window.

The Reflection Probe will garantee good performant reflections (well, depending on your settings, this may vary). However, the reflections will sometimes fail and miss some details. You can notice in the image below how the pillars are not being reflected.

But overall, this tool is great for any kind of project in any platform (yes, including mobile), even if it has its own flaws.

Screen Space Reflections

This is a module you can add in your Post Processing profile which will add real-time reflections to your scene. Not only you will get the benefits of changing how your game looks, but you’ll also get really good reflections. Though, like the reflection probe, it may skips some minor details.

To add this, you’ll have to use the Deferred Lighting mode in your Graphic Settings (in Project Settings).

Otherwise, you will get this message when trying to use Screen Space Reflections.

This is incredibly easy to plug in your project, but beware! It is an expensive operation (even more than Real-time Reflection Probes), and it will take a hit on your performance. If your game is aimed to released in consoles or PC, then, using this module shouldn’t worry you too much.

Combining both

Both tools are compatible with each other, and can be used to counter the flaws of each tool and provide the best reflection possible! The reflection above looks great, and almost seems perfect! Almost if it weren’t for the fact that this will drag the performance down even more.

Again, this shouldn’t worry you if your game is going to be released in consoles or PC, but, you should always have this in mind in case you have to optimize your game and discard some features or tools from your project.

For now, just try using these tools in your project and enjoy the reflections!