Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Download Unity Labs’ free texture de-lighting tool

Unity Labs has released a free tool for ‘de-lighting’ textures: removing the baked-in lighting information from textures generated using photogrammetry, enabling them to be lit properly in 3D scenes.

The tool itself is a Unity add-on, but the diffuse maps it generates could be used in any DCC application.

Remove baked-in lighting from photogrammetric textures without chrome ball reference data
Photogrammetry tools like PhotoScan provide a quick – and increasingly popular – method for generating high-quality texture maps from source photographs of real-world objects.

However, the original shadows and highlights are baked into the diffuse map, meaning that 3D assets textured with it do not respond correctly to lighting applied inside a DCC package or game engine.

Unity Labs’ new De-Lighting Tool removes the original lighting information from the diffuse map, making it possible to use with dynamic or image-based lighting.

Unlike traditional de-lighting workflows, it doesn’t require chrome ball reference data: just ambient occlusion, normal and bent normal maps for the 3D asset to which the texture will be applied.

According to Unity: “These texture maps can be baked in Knald, xNormal, Substance Designer or any other baking tool. Once lighting is removed, the texture can be used as an albedo map in a standard PBR material.”

The workflow is shown in the video above: although it shows the de-lighted diffuse map being generated for use in Unity itself, we assume that it would work in any other DCC application.

Pricing and availability
The De-Lighting Tool is a free download from Unity Technologies’ GitHub repo. It’s compatible with Unity 5.6 and the beta release of 2017.1, and is officially described as an experimental feature.

Unity itself comes with a range of subscription options, including Free personal accounts.

Updated 26 June 2019: Unity Technologies’ original blog post is now offline, but a compiled version of the tool can be downloaded for free from the Unity Asset Store.