Texture 2D
Manual     Reference     Scripting   
Unity Manual > User Guide > Asset Import and Creation > Texture 2D

Texture 2D

Textures bring your Meshes, Particles, and interfaces to life! They are image or movie files that you lay over or wrap around your objects. As they are so important, they have a lot of properties. If you are reading this for the first time, jump down to Details, and return to the actual settings when you need a reference.

The shaders you use for your objects put specific requirements on which textures you need, but the basic principle is that you can put any image file inside your project. If it meets the size requirements (specified below), it will get imported and optimized for game use. This extends to multi-layer Photoshop or TIFF files - they are flattened on import, so there is no size penalty for your game.

Properties

The Texture Inspector looks a bit different from most others:

The top section contains a few settings, and the bottom part contains the Texture Importer and the texture preview.

Aniso LevelIncreases texture quality when viewing the texture at a steep angle. Good for floor and ground textures, see below.
Filter ModeSelects how the Texture is filtered when it gets stretched by 3D transformations:
PointThe Texture becomes blocky up close
BilinearThe Texture becomes blurry up close
TrilinearLike Bilinear, but the Texture also blurs between the different mip levels
Wrap ModeSelects how the Texture behaves when tiled:
RepeatThe Texture repeats (tiles) itself
ClampThe Texture's edges get stretched

Texture Importer

Textures all come from image files in your Project Folder. How they are imported is specified by the Texture Importer. You change these by selecting the file texture in the Project View and modifying the Texture Importer in the Inspector.

In Unity 3 we simplified for you all the settings, now you just need to select what are you going to use the texture for and Unity will set default parameters for the type of texture you have selected. Of course if you want to have total control of your texture and do specific tweaks, you can set the Texture Type to Advanced. This will present the full set of options that you have available.

Texture TypeSelect this to set basic parameters depending on the purpose of your texture.
TextureThis is the most common setting used for all the textures in general.
Normal MapSelect this to turn the color channels into a format suitable for real-time normal mapping. For more info, see Normal Maps
GUIUse this if your texture is going to be used on any HUD/GUI Controls.
ReflectionAlso known as Cube Maps, used to create reflections on textures. check Cubemap Textures for more info.
CookieThis sets up your texture with the basic parameters used for the Cookies of your lights
AdvancedSelect this when you want to have specific parameters on your texture and you want to have total control over your texture.

Basic Texture Settings Selected
Generate Alpha From GrayscaleIf enabled, an alpha transparency channel will be generated by the image's existing values of light & dark.

Normal Map Settings in the Texture Importer
Generate from Greyscale
BumpinessControl the amount of bumpiness.
FilteringDetermine how the bumpiness is calculated:
SmoothThis generates normal maps that are quite smooth.
SharpAlso known as a Sobel filter. this generates normal maps that are sharper than Standard.

GUI Settings for the Texture Importer

You dont need to set any values in this case, Unity will set all the values for you.


Reflection Settings in the Texture Importer
MappingThis determines how the texture will be mapped to a cubemap.
Sphere MappedMaps the texture to a "sphere like" cubemap.
CylindricalMaps the texture to a cylinder, use this when you want to use reflections on objects that are like cylinders.
Simple SphereMaps the texture to a simple sphere, deforming the reflection when you rotate it.
Nice SphereMaps the texture to a sphere, deforming it when you rotate but you still can see the texture's wrap

An interesting way to add a lot of visual detail to your scenes is to use Cookies - greyscale textures you use to control the precise look of in-game lighting. This is fantastic for making moving clouds and giving an impression of dense foliage. The Light page has more info on all this, but the main thing is that for textures to be usable for cookies you just need to set the Texture Type to Cookie.


Cookie Settings in the Texture Importer
Light TypeType of light that the texture will be applied to. (This can be Spotlight, Point or Directional lights). For Directional Lights this texture will tile, so in the texture inspector, you must set the Edge Mode to Repeat; for SpotLights You should keep the edges of your cookie texture solid black in order to get the proper effect. In the Texture Inspector, set the Edge Mode to Clamp.
Generate Alpha from GreyscaleIf enabled, an alpha transparency channel will be generated by the image's existing values of light & dark.

The Advanced Texture Importer Settings dialog
Non Power of 2If texture has non-power-of-two size, this will define a scaling behavior at import time (for more info see the Texture Sizes section below):
NoneTexture will be padded to the next larger power-of-two size for use with GUITexture component.
To nearestTexture will be scaled to the nearest power-of-two size at import time. For instance 257x511 texture will become 256x512. Note that PVRTC formats require textures to be square (width equal to height), therefore final size will be upscaled to 512x512.
To largerTexture will be scaled to the next larger power-of-two size at import time. For instance 257x511 texture will become 512x512.
To smallerTexture will be scaled to the next smaller power-of-two size at import time. For instance 257x511 texture will become 256x256.
Generate Cube MapGenerates a cubemap from the texture using different generation methods.
Read/Write EnabledSelect this to enable access to the texture data from scripts (GetPixels, SetPixels and other Texture2D functions). Note however that a copy of the texture data will be made, doubling the amount of memory required for texture asset. Use only if absolutely necessary. This is only valid for uncompressed and DTX compressed textures, other types of compressed textures cannot be read from. Disabled by default.
Generate Mip MapsSelect this to enable mip-map generation. Mip maps are smaller versions of the texture that get used when the texture is very small on screen. For more info, see Mip Maps below.
Correct GammaSelect this to enable per-mip-level gamma correction.
Border Mip MapsSelect this to avoid colors seeping out to the edge of the lower Mip levels. Used for light cookies (see below).
Mip Map FilteringTwo ways of mip map filtering are available to optimize image quality:
BoxThe simplest way to fade out the mipmaps - the mip levels become smoother and smoother as they go down in size.
KaiserA sharpening Kaiser algorithm is run on the mip maps as they go down in size. If your textures are too blurry in the distance, try this option.
Fade Out MipsEnable this to make the mipmaps fade to gray as the mip levels progress. This is used for detail maps. The left most scroll is the first mip level to begin fading out at. The rightmost scroll defines the mip level where the texture is completely grayed out
Generate Normal MapEnable this to turn the color channels into a format suitable for real-time normal mapping. For more info, see Normal Maps, below.
BumpinessControl the amount of bumpiness.
FilteringDetermine how the bumpiness is calculated:
SmoothThis generates normal maps that are quite smooth.
SharpAlso known as a Sobel filter. this generates normal maps that are sharper than Standard.
Normal MapSelect this if you want to see how the normal map will be applied to your texture.
LightmapSelect this if you want to use the texture as a lightmap.

Per-Platform Overrides

When you are building for different platforms, you have to think on the resolution of your textures for the target platform, the size and the quality. With Unity 3 you can override these options and assign specific values depending on the platform you are deploying to. Note that if you don't select any value to override, the Editor will pick the default values when building your project.


Default settings for all platforms.
Max Texture SizeThe maximum imported texture size. Artists often prefer to work with huge textures - scale the texture down to a suitable size with this.
Texture FormatWhat internal representation is used for the texture. This is a tradeoff between size and quality. In the examples below we show the final size of a in-game texture of 256 by 256 pixels:
CompressedCompressed RGB texture. This is the most common format for diffuse textures. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture).
16 bitLow-quality truecolor. Has 16 levels of red, green, blue and alpha.
TruecolorTruecolor, this is the highest quality. At 256 KB for a 256x256 texture.

If you have set the Texture Type to Advanced then the Texture Format has different values.

Desktop

Texture FormatWhat internal representation is used for the texture. This is a tradeoff between size and quality. In the examples below we show the final size of an in-game texture of 256 by 256 pixels:
RGB Compressed DXT1Compressed RGB texture. This is the most common format for diffuse textures. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGBA Compressed DXT5Compressed RGBA texture. This is the main format used for diffuse & specular control textures. 1 byte/pixel (64 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGB 16 bit65 thousand colors with no alpha. Compressed DXT formats use less memory and usually look better. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGB 24 bitTruecolor but without alpha. 192 KB for a 256x256 texture.
Alpha 8 bitHigh quality alpha channel but without any color. 64 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 16 bitLow-quality truecolor. Has 16 levels of red, green, blue and alpha. Compressed DXT5 format uses less memory and usually looks better. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 32 bitTruecolor with alpha - this is the highest quality. At 256 KB for a 256x256 texture, this one is expensive. Most of the time, DXT5 offers sufficient quality at a much smaller size. The main way this is used is for normal maps, as DXT compression there often carries a visible quality loss.

iOS

Texture FormatWhat internal representation is used for the texture. This is a tradeoff between size and quality. In the examples below we show the final size of a in-game texture of 256 by 256 pixels:
RGB Compressed PVRTC 4 bitsCompressed RGB texture. This is the most common format for diffuse textures. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGBA Compressed PVRTC 4 bitsCompressed RGBA texture. This is the main format used for diffuse & specular control textures or diffuse textures with transparency. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGB Compressed PVRTC 2 bitsCompressed RGB texture. Lower quality format suitable for diffuse textures. 2 bits per pixel (16 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGBA Compressed PVRTC 2 bitsCompressed RGBA texture. Lower quality format suitable for diffuse & specular control textures. 2 bits per pixel (16 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGB Compressed DXT1Compressed RGB texture. This format is not supported on iOS, but kept for backwards compatibility with desktop projects.
RGBA Compressed DXT5Compressed RGBA texture. This format is not supported on iOS, but kept for backwards compatibility with desktop projects.
RGB 16 bit65 thousand colors with no alpha. Uses more memory than PVRTC formats, but could be more suitable for UI or crisp textures without gradients. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGB 24 bitTruecolor but without alpha. 192 KB for a 256x256 texture.
Alpha 8 bitHigh quality alpha channel but without any color. 64 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 16 bitLow-quality truecolor. Has 16 levels of red, green, blue and alpha. Uses more memory than PVRTC formats, but can be handy if you need exact alpha channel. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 32 bitTruecolor with alpha - this is the highest quality. At 256 KB for a 256x256 texture, this one is expensive. Most of the time, PVRTC formats offers sufficient quality at a much smaller size.

Android

Texture FormatWhat internal representation is used for the texture. This is a tradeoff between size and quality. In the examples below we show the final size of a in-game texture of 256 by 256 pixels:
RGB Compressed DXT1Compressed RGB texture. Supported by Nvidia Tegra. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGBA Compressed DXT5Compressed RGBA texture. Supported by Nvidia Tegra. 6 bits per pixel (64 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGB Compressed ETC 4 bitsCompressed RGB texture. This is the default texture format for Android projects. ETC1 is part of OpenGL ES 2.0 and is supported by all OpenGL ES 2.0 GPUs. It does not support alpha. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGB Compressed PVRTC 2 bitsCompressed RGB texture. Supported by Imagination PowerVR GPUs. 2 bits per pixel (16 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGBA Compressed PVRTC 2 bitsCompressed RGBA texture. Supported by Imagination PowerVR GPUs. 2 bits per pixel (16 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGB Compressed PVRTC 4 bitsCompressed RGB texture. Supported by Imagination PowerVR GPUs. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGBA Compressed PVRTC 4 bitsCompressed RGBA texture. Supported by Imagination PowerVR GPUs. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture)
RGB Compressed ATC 4 bitsCompressed RGB texture. Supported by Qualcomm Snapdragon. 4 bits per pixel (32 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGBA Compressed ATC 8 bitsCompressed RGBA texture. Supported by Qualcomm Snapdragon. 6 bits per pixel (64 KB for a 256x256 texture).
RGB 16 bit65 thousand colors with no alpha. Uses more memory than the compressed formats, but could be more suitable for UI or crisp textures without gradients. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGB 24 bitTruecolor but without alpha. 192 KB for a 256x256 texture.
Alpha 8 bitHigh quality alpha channel but without any color. 64 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 16 bitLow-quality truecolor. The default compression for the textures with alpha channel. 128 KB for a 256x256 texture.
RGBA 32 bitTruecolor with alpha - this is the highest quality compression for the textures with alpha. 256 KB for a 256x256 texture.

Unless you're targeting a specific hardware, like Tegra, we'd recommend using ETC1 compression. If needed you could store an external alpha channel and still benefit from lower texture footprint. If you absolutely want to store an alpha channel in a texture, RGBA16 bit is the compression supported by all hardware vendors.

If your app utilizes an unsupported texture compression, the textures will be uncompressed to RGBA 32 and stored in memory along with the compressed ones. So in this case you lose time decompressing textures and lose memory storing them twice. It may also have a very negative impact on rendering performance.

Details

Supported Formats

Unity can read the following file formats: PSD, TIFF, JPG, TGA, PNG, GIF, BMP, IFF, PICT. It should be noted that Unity can import multi-layer PSD & TIFF files just fine. They are flattened automatically on import but the layers are maintained in the assets themselves, so you don't lose any of your work when using these file types natively. This is important as it allows you to just have one copy of your textures that you can use from Photoshop, through your 3D modelling app and into Unity.

Texture Sizes

Ideally texture sizes should be powers of two on the sides. These sizes are as follows: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024 or 2048 pixels. The textures do not have to be square, i.e. width can be different from height.

It is possible to use other (non power of two) texture sizes with Unity. Non power of two texture sizes work best when used on GUI Textures, however if used on anything else they will be converted to an uncompressed RGBA 32 bit format. That means they will take up more video memory (compared to PVRT(iOS)/DXT(Desktop) compressed textures), will be slower to load and slower to render (if you are on iOS mode). In general you'll use non power of two sizes only for GUI purposes.

Non power of two texture assets can be scaled up at import time using the Non Power of 2 option in the advanced texture type in the import settings. Unity will scale texture contents as requested, and in the game they will behave just like any other texture, so they can still be compressed and very fast to load.

UV Mapping

When mapping a 2D texture onto a 3D model, some sort of wrapping is done. This is called UV mapping and is done in your 3D modelling app. Inside Unity, you can scale and move the texture using Materials. Scaling normal & detail maps is especially useful.

Mip Maps

Mip Maps are a list of progressively smaller versions of an image, used to optimise performance on real-time 3D engines. Objects that are far away from the camera use the smaller texture versions. Using mip maps uses 33% more memory, but not using them can be a huge performance loss. You should always use mipmaps for in-game textures; the only exceptions are textures that will never be minified (e.g. GUI textures).

Normal Maps

Normal maps are used by normal map shaders to make low-polygon models look as if they contain more detail. Unity uses normal maps encoded as RGB images. You also have the option to generate a normal map from a grayscale height map image.

Detail Maps

If you want to make a terrain, you normally use your main texture to show where there are areas of grass, rocks sand, etc... If your terrain has a decent size, it will end up very blurry. Detail textures hide this fact by fading in small details as your main texture gets up close.

When drawing detail textures, a neutral gray is invisible, white makes the main texture twice as bright and black makes the main texture completely black.

Reflections (Cube Maps)

If you want to use texture for reflection maps (e.g. use the Reflective builtin shaders), you need to use Cubemap Textures.

Anisotropic filtering

Anisotropic filtering increases texture quality when viewed from a grazing angle, at some expense of rendering cost (the cost is entirely on the graphics card). Increasing anisotropy level is usually a good idea for ground and floor textures. In Quality Settings anisotropic filtering can be forced for all textures or disabled completely.


No anisotropy (left) / Maximum anisotropy (right) used on the ground texture

Page last updated: 2007-11-16