Converting to URP; lighting and post-processing effects

To improve the atmosphere and visuals of our game, we want to be able to create “filter” effects that we can apply over the whole screen. One of the easiest ways to do this in Unity is to use what’s called a post-processing volume, which is a profile of chosen effects that will be applied by a camera (usually the main camera) to the layers it renders.

One thing to note is that the UI layer generally sits above the camera as a screen overlay (which it does in our game), meaning that these UI elements won’t be affected by our post-processing effects.

When I set up our project, I didn’t originally do so in such a way that we would have access to URP. Luckily, converting a basic project to a URP one is quite simple, and there are several tutorials online. I upgraded our project, and everything seems to work fine, but there are some small differences between how URP and non-URP projects work, which is why it’s important to have some form of version control (like Git) set up just in case there are any unforeseen conflicts.

Post-Processing Effects

Some of the post-processing effects we have to choose from that look applicable to our game are:

Depth of Field:

  • Essentially blurs things once they reach a certain distance from the camera
  • Because we have quite a few camera positions in our scene, if we wanted to use this we would need to keep adjusting these values
  • I’m not sure this effect would really add much to the game, but could be used in specific moments to blur the screen


  • Might want to manually add something to the UI later if we want a custom animated one, but for now we can use Unity’s post-processing one

Colour Adjustments:

  • Can allow us to tweak and adjust some of the colouring of our game (hue, saturation, add colour influence)

Film Grain:

  • Adds a grainy noise effect to the screen, intensity can be controlled but the size of the grain texture appears to be fixed
  • Seems like a very useful effect to make the game feel more “unsettling” and to add the feeling of video degradation that is classic for horror games, it also fits with our idea of having silent-movie-style cutscenes
  • The grain effect might be a bit harsh to look at for a longer stretch of time, so we will need to test it and see if we need to reduce the intensity

Lens Distortion:

  • Adds a fisheye lens type distortion to the screen
  • This can be adjusted to have more of a concave appearance than a convex one, which we think could look good to add some slight warping to the edges of the screen

Something else that is quite popular for indie horror games is to give a retro-pixelated look (or “dithering”) to everything.

This makes the quality of the visuals even grainier and often not only makes the game feel genuinely old (and sometimes nostalgic) but can also be used to obscure details and create a greater sense of doubt about what the player is seeing.

There are a few different ways to create this type of effect, most of which involve creating full-screen shaders, but to do this I would need to update my version of unity (which I realised is several years out of date now).

Changing the version of Unity a project is developed in can be risky, so it’s generally recommended to only upgrade if you really need access to newer features. There is also the fact that this kind of retro dither effect may not really be suitable for the setting/aesthetic of our game, since the retro effect is generally reminiscent of early modern technology and not so much something in a Victorian setting.

For now, I will set this idea aside and can look into more if we think it will really add value to the game, however I think we can still achieve some good visuals with post-processing effects.


Unity has a few different types of lights to choose from. The lighting system in Unity seems like it can get fairly complex, but I want to keep things simple for now since it is my first time trying to set up lighting.

For the lighting in our game, I have moved and decreased the intensity of the default light source, as well as added several point lights with a yellow-ish hue and moderately high intensity to create some obvious visible light sources in the scene and cast other areas into more shadow. I felt that for our scene, these looked the best and created an interesting and more atmospheric setting.

What we will probably do if we have the chance is add in some lamp models where some of our visible light sources are, to make it seem as if the glow is being emitted by the lights.

Updated Textures, models and lighting:

The post-processing effects we used here are film grain, vignette, slight lens distortion, and slight colour adjustment. We really like how this looks, and feel it very much fits the type of mood we are trying to create.

Laura Alford

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