Welcome to the third best practice for mobile from an artists perspective. We hope you will find everything you are looking for regarding materials and shaders in this guide.

What you will learn;

  • The difference between a material and a shader.
  • The best practices when dealing with both materials and shaders, along with game engine best practices when dealing with both.
  • Transparency best practices from an artists perspective.
  • All the other small best practices that fit into the area of dealing with materials and shaders.

The difference between a shader and a material


  • A shader is a small program that tell the GPU how to draw an object on the screen and all the calculations that are needed to happen on it.
  • A shader needs to be attached to a material to be used.
  • Some of the scripting languages commonly used to author shader are HLSL and GLSL.


  • A material is something that can be applied to an object/mesh to define the visual look of that object. 
  • A material is used to set the specific value of parameter that made available from a shader, such as the color, numeric values, etc.

A shader and a material can be implemented differently depending on the game engine. In Unity, different shaders can be created and applied to different materials, while in Unreal engine the shader used can be based on the target platform selected.

Shader Material

Unity Shader Graph