Transparent Specular
Reference Manual > Built-in Shader Guide > Transparent Shader Family > Transparent Specular

Transparent Specular

One consideration for this shader is that the Base texture's alpha channel defines both the Transparent areas as well as the Specular Map.

Transparent Properties

This shader can make mesh geometry partially or fully transparent by reading the alpha channel of the main texture. In the alpha, 0 (black) is completely transparent while 255 (white) is completely opaque. If your main texture does not have an alpha channel, the object will appear completely opaque.

Using transparent objects in your game can be tricky, as there are traditional graphical programming problems that can present sorting issues in your game. For example, if you see odd results when looking through two windows at once, you're experiencing the classical problem with using transparency. The general rule is to be aware that there are some cases in which one transparent object may be drawn in front of another in an unusual way, especially if the objects are intersecting, enclose each other or are of very different sizes. For this reason, you should use transparent objects if you need them, and try not to let them become excessive. You should also make your designer(s) aware that such sorting problems can occur, and have them prepare to change some design to work around these issues.

Specular Properties

This shader is a Pixel-Lit shader, which is more expensive than Vertex-Lit. Pixel lighting is expensive mostly because each object has to be drawn multiple times for each pixel light that shines on it. Vertex lights don't affect the shader in this way. Pixel lights support cookies, bumpmapping, and shadows while vertex lights do not. Pixel lights are also much less sensitive to tesselation of the models - if you have a cube using this shader, you can put point light very close to its surface and it will have nice round highlight. This effect cannot be achieved with Vertex lighting.

Specular computes the same simple (Lambertian) lighting as Diffuse, plus a viewer dependent specular highlight. This is called the Blinn-Phong lighting model. It has a specular highlight that is dependent on surface angle, light angle, and viewing angle. The highlight is actually just a realtime-suitable way to simulate blurred reflection of the light source. The level of blur for the highlight is controlled with the Shininess slider in the Inspector.

Additionally, the alpha channel of the main texture acts as a Specular Map (sometimes called "gloss map"), defining which areas of the object are more reflective than others. Black areas of the alpha will be zero specular reflection, while white areas will be full specular reflection. This is very useful when you want different areas of your object to reflect different levels of specularity. For example, something like rusty metal would use low specularity, while polished metal would use high specularity. Lipstick has higher specularity than skin, and skin has higher specularity than cotton clothes. A well-made Specular Map can make a huge difference in impressing the player.


Generally, this shader is moderately expensive to render. For more details, please view the Shader Peformance page.