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"The Unity Shaders Bible" Author on Using Unity For Technical Art

The author of "The Unity Shaders Bible", Fabrizio Espíndola, explained how he got into technical art 10 years ago, discussed shader creation in Unity, and shared some advice on how to stand out professionally.


Hello everyone. I'm Fabrizio Espíndola, a Senior Technical Artist with over ten years of experience in the video game industry. My journey with video games began in 2012 as a 3D Generalist at a Japanese company called DeNA, which had a branch in Santiago, Chile, at that time. There, I enjoyed working on titles like Star Wars GD, D&D Arena of War, and Timenauts, I really liked the latter.

I would say my career as a Technical Artist truly began when I left DeNA in early 2016. The truth is, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and provide technical services for games, so I started learning everything related to shaders, optimization, and other stuff; at that time, it was in high demand. Actually, the idea of Jettelly was born at this point, but it didn't materialize until 2018.

During my study days, I worked with companies like OSMO, where we developed Super Studio Disney Frozen 2. Additionally, I worked on personal projects like Nom Noms, a game we developed at Jettelly and later published with HyperBeard. It was fascinating to work on this project; it could have done better financially, but I loved it!

Currently, I am developing tools at Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds. I can't talk much about the project we're working on, but I'm sure you'll love it once it's released.

Unity and Its Advantages

I started using Unity while studying Digital Arts at the University, around 2010, with version 3.x if I recall correctly. During that period, I had game development classes. We worked not only with Unity but also with Game Maker. However, understanding much of game development took time due to the need for more online information. There were fewer tutorials than there are today. Therefore, knowledge was gained directly from books or exploring the software on your own.

The exciting thing about Unity is its flexibility. Moreover, with its long presence in the market, it's easy to find information on common errors. I'm not sure if it's the best engine for technical art and VFX, I've also seen very interesting things in Unreal. However, you can definitely create high-quality effects with it. Another interesting factor is that most mobile game companies still use Unity. Hence, the chance of success in finding a job remains high. Let's hope that continues over time, considering Unity's new policies.

Unity became more versatile with the introduction of Shader Graph. Before that, understanding the world of shaders was challenging due to the limited online information. In fact, the official documentation of the software only emphasized the explanation of "ShaderLab," which is a language that connects with HLSL or CG within the same program. Currently, there is a lot of information about all this related to the world of computer graphics. My book, "The Unity Shaders Bible," introduces much of what a Technical Artist needs daily.

The Unity Shaders Bible

I started writing "The Bible" because I had always wanted a book with that information in my early days. For a long time, I waited for someone to write at least an introductory guide to shader development in Unity in a linear way, which had not happened until then. There were books and courses on shaders and computer graphics, of course, but they were challenging to understand. Many focused on the technical (mathematical) aspect rather than having practical applications for the day.

So, I combined my passion for writing with my technical knowledge and started "The Unity Shaders Bible" on March 1st, 2021, which has sold over eight thousand copies globally to date. This does not count the illegally downloaded versions. According to our estimation, we believe the book has been pirated more than three thousand times, considering the reports that have come to our email. It's ok, we are not upset.

The support of our community was essential at the beginning. Actually, we created a subscription newsletter to determine how many people were genuinely interested in these topics before starting the book, and more than a thousand developers subscribed in the first month.

How to Get Started With Shaders?

To understand shaders, fundamental knowledge of mathematics is required! From arithmetic to algebra and trigonometry to calculus. The more mathematical knowledge a developer has, the easier it will be to understand all this technology.

There's a book I'd like to recommend. I don't know if the book has an English translation. It's called "Simplified Mathematics," and it belongs to Conamat. In my opinion, it's an excellent book. I would also recommend the book "Fundamentals of Computer Graphics" by CRC Press. It's excellent. Now, if you don't want too much technicality, "The Unity Shaders Bible" is for you. It's worth noting that applied mathematics not only serves to create shaders but also to develop mechanics and tools in Unity and other engines; mathematics is almost everything.

Getting Noticed

Generally, people from different areas ask me: what should I do to stand out professionally? Well, this depends on the focus you're giving to your career. In my case, everything I've experienced so far has been entirely unexpected because my initial motivation (the reason I started all this) was to help Latin Americans improve their understanding of the technical aspects of video games.

Actually, we started a free YouTube channel in Spanish, which evolved over time. Currently, we're not updating it because we have other plans. But we have in mind a new channel specialized in English. If you want to grow professionally, try to focus on solving a problem.

For example, could you explain in a linear way how to simulate fluids in a game engine? Could you optimize the process enough for it to run on a mobile device? There are many questions out there. If you focus on solving them, you could build an audience following your work.


I use two social media platforms most frequently: Twitter and LinkedIn. @ushadersbible is where we usually post all updates about our books and future projects. On LinkedIn, I reach people more directly by posting updates about my projects or other things that could help other developers.

For 2024, we plan to publish the second volume of Visualizing Equations. This time, it will cover procedural shapes, mathematical functions, and shaders. For those interested, you can subscribe to the book directly on our website. To date, there are already more than 1,700 subscribers to this new title, it's insane! Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, we have plans to start a new YouTube channel. We're still thinking about the content we'll include in it.

Fabrizio Espíndola, Senior Technical Artist, Author of "The Unity Shaders Bible"

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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