I recently started making assets for the Unity asset store. I spent some time researching lightning and how it looks. Here are some sample images to give you an idea:
As you can see there are a couple of characteristics that define lightning strikes:
– A central trunk that is thicker and brighter than the rest of the lightning
– Varying amounts of limbs that go roughly in a 45 degree angle perpendicular to the trunk
– The main trunk and limbs follow a sort of jittery path, they do not form straight lines
– Lightning follows a sort of tree structure, with the chance of additional limbs off of other limbs
These are not absolute, I have found pictures of lightning going in all crazy sorts of directions, but for a realistic lightning bolt I think these attributes will suffice.
I ended up creating a procedural lightning solution for Unity that creates, in my opinion, the most realistic lightning on the Unity asset store.
This asset is highly configurable and includes the following options:
– A configuration scene to help you get the exact look you want for your lightning. Tweak the detail, width, glow, duration, chaos, forkedness, direction and much more. Bolts can be randomized with a seed to get the same (or close to) bolt.
– One click to get the exact code to reproduce your lightning bolt.
– A robust lightning script that lets you create lightning strikes with a large selection of parameters with near infinite possibilities.
– Lightning works great in many scenarios: thunderstorms, magic spells, static discharge and much more!
– Lightning branches fade in to make your lightning really come alive.
– Storm cloud particle system that looks stunning when lit up by lightning.
I even threw in a random lightning generator for thunderstorms.