Page MenuHomeFeedback Tracker

Stencil Shadows should be fully replaced by Shadow Maps
Acknowledged, WishlistPublic


There are various objects in the game world that have their shadows rendered using Stencil technique. This is a CPU intensive process that could easily be offloaded to the GPU to better help reduce CPU bottlenecking while simultaneously improving the graphic quality and compatibility of the game.


Legacy ID
Steps To Reproduce

1.Set Shadows to Medium, High, Very High or Ultra
2.Note the shadows on infantry, vehicles, street signs/lights, rocks, etc.
3.Compare to objects like buildings, vegetation, and 3rd person vehicles shadows

Event Timeline

DaRkL3AD3R edited Additional Information. (Show Details)
DaRkL3AD3R set Category to Performance.
DaRkL3AD3R set Reproducibility to Always.
DaRkL3AD3R set Severity to None.
DaRkL3AD3R set Resolution to Open.
DaRkL3AD3R set Legacy ID to 3441449628.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM
simast added a subscriber: simast.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

Agreed. The stencil shadows need to go.. that would also fix stuff like this: #7501.

Soft shadows look great in ArmA3, it is about time every object started to produce them.

Unknown Object (User) added a subscriber: Unknown Object (User).May 7 2016, 2:04 PM
Unknown Object (User) added a comment.May 12 2013, 9:38 PM

Dont advertise your tickets on comments.

Dr. Death, which ticket are you talking about. If the one linked by simast, then don't be silly. The problem in that ticket is a consequence of what my ticket is trying to resolve, just in a bigger picture.

Please don't down vote a legitimate ticket (one that resolves MANY other tickets single-handedly) all because of some petty internet quarrel.

this is a tricky one. I am voting up, but cant say I am entirely happy with the soft shadows.

For one, stencil shadows and shadow mapped shadows mixed seem to give some depth in some shadows, for example player shadow is hard edged, and tree shadows are soft edged, this kinda adds to the look and feel that the tree is higher than the character. And also, the shadows maps edges kinda look crap, i mean on hard surface geometry, like walls etc, though it seems to look fine with ATOC. and lastly, there is a distracting border between high rez and low rez shadow maps, seems to appear about 40m infront of the player... unless you run ultra shadows.

But I will upvote for performance sake... it matters more than graphics.

Is it possible to use stencil shadows on the GPU though?

Should definitely be adjusted, at least for the higher graphics settings...

z-boson added a subscriber: z-boson.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

upvoted. to hell with those ugly stencil shadows. bring this game to 2013 :)

bez added a comment.Jun 4 2013, 2:08 AM


I think the player shadow is just horrible.
especially the weapon he is holding, it always looks to me like cardboard.

A million votes for you sir.
Well, no, one. Also sorry if you aren't a sir, that must suck. I bet being a knight is awesome.
But... yeah, stencil shadows were cool back in the Doom 3 days when they were the new thing, but now they are inefficient and ugly.

Bohemia added a subscriber: Bohemia.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

Player shadow (fingers) == Freddy Krueger :D
please, make shadows soften and processed by HBAO or some similar

Freddy Krueger fingers! Once seen, can never be unseen.

Please BI no more stencil shadows, do it for the kids scared of Freddy Krueger!

TTc30 added a subscriber: TTc30.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM
TTc30 added a comment.Jun 21 2013, 1:29 AM

Also shadows produced from objects farther from the ground should look softer than the ones from objects close to, but performance and gameplay first indeed.

Freddy Krueger would be proud :>

Seriously, if BIS thinks about optimising this game and making visualy-enhanced they can't just throw out this idea.

voted up

To be investigated

Grinya added a subscriber: Grinya.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

Arma 3 need any kind of Ambient Occlusion first. I can't look more at these flat shadows under vehicles.

To give a few examples of cases, the AH-9 first and third person shadows as well as the civilian offroad.

Other objects such as wooden lamp posts and road signs appear to still be using stencil shadows while street lamps are using the new rendering method.

And most vehicles/objects are still using stencil shadows.

-->Arma 3 need any kind of Ambient Occlusion first.
Already in. But very painful method for HW.

And we don't need fake HBAO in almost exterior scenes.

About shadows. What method is used? SSSS? Would be great to see something like PCSS by Randima Fernando.

This video outlines the issue where objects casting Stencil shadows do not cast on the first person player model and weapon. Very annoying.

I wish they would get rid of all stencil shadows, they look terrible in my opinion.

FrankHH added a subscriber: FrankHH.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

The problem that arises is that shadow maps would look like shit in first person. The shadow casted by the soldiers should be as hard as possible, but I'm not sure if the engine supports differen kinds of shadow hardness.

Sharp yes but stencil shadows are TOO sharp and in comparison to the new shadows they look ugly as they show every corner of the lower polycount shadow LOD.

They do have falloff and Arma 3's new shadows are up for the task

on high setting - all the shadows should be soft shadows , even on guns and in the cockpits too

Sharpness of real shadows depend from angle and range between light source, object and surface. And light source type, of course. The sun is huge source and produce very diffuse light with soft-edged shadows. Unlike the streetlamp.

And Arma doesn't take into account what the light source or its proximity aside from where it casts the shadows and how far, or at all. With that in mind, which would you rather see.

Remember also that stencil shadows use CPU vs GPU, so wether we want to or not we're always wasting cycles.

Unknown Object (User) added a comment.Oct 21 2013, 5:49 PM

Please remember that this is an over 10 years old engine. yes, it has done more than even the Source could do, but its not limitless

akp added a subscriber: akp.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM
akp added a comment.Jan 4 2014, 5:46 PM

Seems easily changed with the steps written here: adding prefershadowvolume 0 to the geometry lod. Tried it on the arma 2 zu23 static weapon without any other changes and it seems to work fine.

Unknown Object (User) added a comment.Jan 4 2014, 7:11 PM

image wont work

akp added a comment.Jan 4 2014, 7:35 PM

If you mean tinemem's image then it's at

Unknown Object (User) added a comment.Jan 4 2014, 7:59 PM

if a simple change can make shadows realistic and bis haven't done it so its either:

1-because they have a good reason not to
2-they dont want to

When will BI implement shadow map over stencil shadows? This would increase the performance by at least some 10% because the shadows will be handled by the graphics card and not by the processor.

They said they acknowledged the problem, still no solution after 6 months.
Moreover, the game looks like a 2005 directx 9 game.
Still waiting.

TTc30 added a comment.Feb 15 2014, 3:38 AM

Even tho they've added HDAO, shadows under vehicles stil look fake... also Directx11 supports shadows that are sharper the when closer to contact and blurrier when shadows i casted from up high.

Edit: Called contact hardened shadows

Koala added a subscriber: Koala.May 7 2016, 2:04 PM

Actually, that is related to THIS, note the post was made in 2013 the other in 2014.

A ticket needs to be pointed out as relating to only if it is posted after one that already exists.

Its really annoying when I riding on back in a chopper with guys and notice their goggles just don't give a dam boat shadows.

Koala added a comment.Sep 25 2015, 6:15 PM

related to #0025831

Is this fixed? When i saw version of game, when it was reported i fell i'm gonna puke...

mik4409 added a subscriber: mik4409.EditedMar 22 2017, 9:22 PM in some cases,they think stencil shadows looks better,but visually I HATE stencil shadow......they give me a option to force all shadow mapping
performance? well I don't care, me,stencil shadow looks BAD,so I HOPE BI make option for "force shadow mapping" in graphic setting

mik4409 removed a subscriber: mik4409.Mar 22 2017, 9:28 PM
mik4409 added a subscriber: mik4409.

Even DayZ uses shadow mapping for all, but why not arma 3?