June 28, 2018

Create photoreal car windows in Unreal Engine

By Min Jie Wu

Creating curved glass windows with computer graphics can be challenging at the best of times. The degree of reflectivity vs. transparency is dependent on the viewing angle in relation to the glass’s curvature. 

For CG automotive glass, particularly windshields, the challenge is compounded by the fact that the viewer naturally looks to see who’s driving. If the windshield doesn’t look right, the entire illusion can be shattered, no matter how good the rest of the car looks.

To address this challenge, Epic has released the white paper “Unreal Engine 4: Realistic, High-quality Windows” which explains the most efficient way to create photoreal, real-time car windows and windshields.


In the real world, a car window consists of multiple layers of material with different physical properties. Giving a CG window all these physical properties would be unwieldy, and isn’t necessary—instead, use simple meshes and existing material tools to create photoreal car windshields and windows that can render in real time.

The interactive story The Human Race, a joint project between Epic, The Mill, and Chevrolet, showcases the results of this approach on two high-performance vehicles.

To learn how to create photoreal car windows for your own Unreal Engine project, download the white paper and start creating today!