How to Add Material to ModelEntity programatically in RealityKit?

Updated: January 26, 2023

RealityKit materials

There are 6 types of materials in RealityKit 2.0 and RealityFoundation at the moment:

SwiftUI version

Here I used two macOS implementations (SwiftUI and Cocoa) to demonstrate how to programmatically assign RealityKit materials.

import SwiftUI
import RealityKit

struct VRContainer : NSViewRepresentable {        
    let arView = ARView(frame: .zero)
    let anchor = AnchorEntity()
    func makeNSView(context: Context) -> ARView {                    
        var smpl = SimpleMaterial()
        smpl.color.tint = .blue
        smpl.metallic = 0.7
        smpl.roughness = 0.2
        var pbr = PhysicallyBasedMaterial()
        pbr.baseColor.tint = .green

        let mesh: MeshResource = .generateBox(width: 0.5,
                                             height: 0.5,
                                              depth: 0.5,
                                       cornerRadius: 0.02,
                                         splitFaces: true)

        let box = ModelEntity(mesh: mesh, materials: [smpl, pbr])    
        box.orientation = Transform(pitch: .pi/4,
                                      yaw: .pi/4, roll: 0.0).rotation
        arView.environment.background = .color(.black)
        return arView
    func updateNSView(_ view: ARView, context: Context) { }

struct ContentView: View {
    var body: some View {

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Cocoa version

import Cocoa
import RealityKit

class ViewController: NSViewController {        
    @IBOutlet var arView: ARView!
    override func awakeFromNib() {
        let box = try! Experience.loadBox()
        var simpleMat = SimpleMaterial()
        simpleMat.color = .init(tint: .blue, texture: nil)
        simpleMat.metallic = .init(floatLiteral: 0.7)
        simpleMat.roughness = .init(floatLiteral: 0.2)
        var pbr = PhysicallyBasedMaterial()
        pbr.baseColor = .init(tint: .green, texture: nil) 

        let mesh: MeshResource = .generateBox(width: 0.5, 
                                             height: 0.5, 
                                              depth: 0.5, 
                                       cornerRadius: 0.02, 
                                         splitFaces: true)

        let boxComponent = ModelComponent(mesh: mesh,
                                     materials: [simpleMat, pbr])

        box.steelBox?.orientation = Transform(pitch: .pi/4, 
                                                yaw: .pi/4, 
                                               roll: 0).rotation

Read this post to find out how to load a texture for RealityKit’s shaders.

RealityKit shaders vs SceneKit shaders

We know that in SceneKit there are 5 different shading models, so we can use RealityKit’s SimpleMaterial, PhysicallyBasedMaterial and UnlitMaterial to generate all these five shaders that we’ve been accustomed to.

Let’s see how it looks like:

SCNMaterial.LightingModel.blinn           – SimpleMaterial(color: . gray,
                                                        roughness: .float(0.5),
                                                       isMetallic: false)

SCNMaterial.LightingModel.lambert         – SimpleMaterial(color: . gray,
                                                        roughness: .float(1.0),
                                                       isMetallic: false)
SCNMaterial.LightingModel.phong           – SimpleMaterial(color: . gray,
                                                        roughness: .float(0.0),
                                                       isMetallic: false)

SCNMaterial.LightingModel.physicallyBased – PhysicallyBasedMaterial()

// all three shaders (`.constant`, `UnlitMaterial` and `VideoMaterial `) 
// don't depend on lighting
SCNMaterial.LightingModel.constant        – UnlitMaterial(color: .gray)
                                          – VideoMaterial(avPlayer: avPlayer)

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