Shading language


Godot uses a simplified shader language (almost a subset of GLSL). Shaders can be used for:

  • Materials
  • Post-Processing
  • 2D

and are divided in Vertex, Fragment and Light sections.



The language is statically type and supports only a few operations. Arrays, classes, structures, etc are not supported. Several built-in datatypes are provided:

Data types

DataType Description
void Void
bool boolean (true or false)
float floating point
vec2 2-component vector, float subindices (x,y or r,g )
vec3 3-component vector, float subindices (x,y,z or r,g,b )
vec4, color 4-component vector, float subindices (x,y,z,w or r,g,b,a )
mat2 2x2 matrix, vec3 subindices (x,y)
mat3 3x3 matrix, vec3 subindices (x,y,z)
mat4 4x4 matrix, vec4 subindices (x,y,z,w)
texture texture sampler, can only be used as uniform
cubemap cubemap sampler, can only be used as uniform


The syntax is similar to C, with statements ending with ; and comments as // and /* */. Example:

float a = 3;
vec3 b;
b.x = a;


It is possible to use swizzling to reassigning subindices or groups of subindices, in order:

vec3 a = vec3(1,2,3);
vec3 b = a.zyx; // b will contain vec3(3,2,1)
vec2 c = a.xy; // c will contain vec2(1,2)
vec4 d = a.xyzz; // d will contain vec4(1,2,3,3)


Constructors take the regular amount of elements, but can also accept less if the element has more subindices, for example:

vec3 a = vec3(1,vec2(2,3));
vec3 b = vec3(a);
vec3 c = vec3(vec2(2,3),1);
vec4 d = vec4(a,5);
mat3 m = mat3(a,b,c);


For now, only the if conditional is supported. Example:

if (a < b) {
    c = b;


A variable can be declared as uniform. In this case, its value will come from outside the shader (it will be the responsibility of the material or whatever using the shader to provide it).

uniform vec3 direction;
uniform color tint;

vec3 result = tint.rgb * direction;


Simple support for functions is provided. Functions can’t access uniforms or other shader variables.

vec3 addtwo(vec3 a, vec3 b) {
    return a+b;

vec3 c = addtwo(vec3(1,1,1), vec3(2,2,2));

Built-in functions

Several built-in functions are provided for convenience, listed as follows:

Function Description
float sin ( float ) Sine
float cos ( float ) Cosine
float tan ( float ) Tangent
float asin ( float ) arc-Sine
float acos ( float ) arc-Cosine
float atan ( float ) arc-Tangent
vec_type pow ( vec_type, float ) Power
vec_type pow ( vec_type, vec_type ) Power (Vec. Exponent)
vec_type exp ( vec_type ) Base-e Exponential
vec_type log ( vec_type ) Natural Logarithm
vec_type sqrt ( vec_type ) Square Root
vec_type abs ( vec_type ) Absolute
vec_type sign ( vec_type ) Sign
vec_type floor ( vec_type ) Floor
vec_type trunc ( vec_type ) Trunc
vec_type ceil ( vec_type ) Ceiling
vec_type fract ( vec_type ) Fractional
vec_type mod ( vec_type,vec_type ) Remainder
vec_type min ( vec_type,vec_type ) Minimum
vec_type min ( vec_type,vec_type ) Maximum
vec_type clamp ( vec_type value,vec_type min, vec_type max ) Clamp to Min-Max
vec_type mix ( vec_type a,vec_type b, float c ) Linear Interpolate
vec_type mix ( vec_type a,vec_type b, vec_type c ) Linear Interpolate (Vector Coef.)
vec_type step ( vec_type a,vec_type b) ` a[i] < b[i] ? 0.0 : 1.0`
vec_type smoothstep ( vec_type a,vec_type b,vec_type c)  
float length ( vec_type ) Vector Length
float distance ( vec_type, vec_type ) Distance between vector.
float dot ( vec_type, vec_type ) Dot Product
vec3 dot ( vec3, vec3 ) Cross Product
vec_type normalize ( vec_type ) Normalize to unit length
vec3 reflect ( vec3, vec3 ) Reflect
color tex ( texture, vec2 ) Read from a texture in normalized coords
color texcube ( texture, vec3 ) Read from a cubemap
color texscreen ( vec2 ) Read from screen (generates a copy)

Built-in variables

Depending on the shader type, several built-in variables are available, listed as follows:

Material (3D) - VertexShader

Variable Description
const vec3 SRC_VERTEX Model-Space Vertex
const vec3 SRC_NORMAL Model-Space Normal
const vec3 SRC_TANGENT Model-Space Tangent
const float SRC_BINORMALF Direction to Compute Binormal
vec3 VERTEX View-Space Vertex
vec3 NORMAL View-Space Normal
vec3 TANGENT View-Space Tangent
vec3 BINORMAL View-Space Binormal
vec2 UV UV
vec2 UV2 UV2
color COLOR Vertex Color
out vec4 VAR1 Varying 1 Output
out vec4 VAR2 Varying 2 Output
out float SPEC_EXP Specular Exponent (for Vertex Lighting)
out float POINT_SIZE Point Size (for points)
const mat4 WORLD_MATRIX Object World Matrix
const mat4 INV_CAMERA_MATRIX Inverse Camera Matrix
const mat4 PROJECTION_MATRIX Projection Matrix
const mat4 MODELVIEW_MATRIX (InvCamera * Projection)
const float INSTANCE_ID Instance ID (for multimesh)
const float TIME Time (in seconds)

Material (3D) - FragmentShader

Variable Description
const vec3 VERTEX View-Space vertex
const vec4 POSITION View-Space Position
const vec3 NORMAL View-Space Normal
const vec3 TANGENT View-Space Tangent
const vec3 BINORMAL View-Space Binormal
const vec3 NORMALMAP Alternative to NORMAL, use for normal texture output.
const vec3 NORMALMAP_DEPTH Complementary to the above, allows changing depth of normalmap.
const vec2 UV UV
const vec2 UV2 UV2
const color COLOR Vertex Color
const vec4 VAR1 Varying 1
const vec4 VAR2 Varying 2
const vec2 SCREEN_UV Screen Texture Coordinate (for using with texscreen)
const float TIME Time (in seconds)
const vec2 POINT_COORD UV for point, when drawing point sprites.
out vec3 DIFFUSE Diffuse Color
out vec4 DIFFUSE_ALPHA Diffuse Color with Alpha (using this sends geometry to alpha pipeline)
out vec3 SPECULAR Specular Color
out vec3 EMISSION Emission Color
out float SPEC_EXP Specular Exponent (Fragment Version)
out float GLOW Glow
out mat4 INV_CAMERA_MATRIX Inverse camera matrix, can be used to obtain world coords (see example below).

Material (3D) - LightShader

Variable Description
const vec3 NORMAL View-Space normal
const vec3 LIGHT_DIR View-Space Light Direction
const vec3 EYE_VEC View-Space Eye-Point Vector
const vec3 DIFFUSE Material Diffuse Color
const vec3 LIGHT_DIFFUSE Light Diffuse Color
const vec3 SPECULAR Material Specular Color
const vec3 LIGHT_SPECULAR Light Specular Color
const float SPECULAR_EXP Specular Exponent
const vec1 SHADE_PARAM Generic Shade Parameter
const vec2 POINT_COORD Current UV for Point Sprite
out vec2 LIGHT Resulting Light
const float TIME Time (in seconds)

CanvasItem (2D) - VertexShader

Variable Description
const vec2 SRC_VERTEX CanvasItem space vertex.
vec2 UV UV
out vec2 VERTEX Output LocalSpace vertex.
out vec2 WORLD_VERTEX Output WorldSpace vertex. (use this or the one above)
color COLOR Vertex Color
out vec4 VAR1 Varying 1 Output
out vec4 VAR2 Varying 2 Output
out float POINT_SIZE Point Size (for points)
const mat4 WORLD_MATRIX Object World Matrix
const mat4 EXTRA_MATRIX Extra (user supplied) matrix via CanvasItem.draw_set_transform(). Identity by default.
const mat4 PROJECTION_MATRIX Projection Matrix (model coords to screen).
const float TIME Time (in seconds)

CanvasItem (2D) - FragmentShader

Variable Description
const vec4 SRC_COLOR Vertex color
const vec4 POSITION Screen Position
vec2 UV UV
out color COLOR Output Color
out vec3 NORMAL Optional Normal (used for 2D Lighting)
out vec3 NORMALMAP Optional Normal in standard normalmap format (flipped y and Z from 0 to 1)
out float NORMALMAP_DEPTH Depth option for above normalmap output, default value is 1.0
const texture TEXTURE Current texture in use for CanvasItem
const vec2 TEXTURE_PIXEL_SIZE Pixel size for current 2D texture
in vec4 VAR1 Varying 1 Output
in vec4 VAR2 Varying 2 Output
const vec2 SCREEN_UV Screen Texture Coordinate (for using with texscreen)
const vec2 POINT_COORD Current UV for Point Sprite
const float TIME Time (in seconds)

CanvasItem (2D) - LightShader


Material that reads a texture, a color and multiples them, fragment program:

uniform color modulate;
uniform texture source;

DIFFUSE = modulate.rgb * tex(source, UV).rgb;

Material that glows from red to white:

DIFFUSE = vec3(1,0,0) + vec(1,1,1) * mod(TIME, 1.0);

Standard Blinn Lighting Shader

float NdotL = max(0.0, dot(NORMAL, LIGHT_DIR));
vec3 half_vec = normalize(LIGHT_DIR + EYE_VEC);
float eye_light = max(dot(NORMAL, half_vec), 0.0);
if (NdotL > 0.0) {

Obtaining world-space normal and position in material fragment program:

// Use reverse multiply because INV_CAMERA_MATRIX is world2cam

vec3 world_normal = NORMAL * mat3(INV_CAMERA_MATRIX);
vec3 world_pos = (VERTEX - * mat3(INV_CAMERA_MATRIX);


  • Do not use DIFFUSE_ALPHA unless you really intend to use transparency. Transparent materials must be sorted by depth and slow down the rendering pipeline. For opaque materials, just use DIFFUSE.
  • Do not use DISCARD unless you really need it. Discard makes rendering slower, specially on mobile devices.
  • TIME may reset after a while (may last an hour or so), it’s meant for effects that vary over time.
  • In general, every built-in variable not used results in less shader code generated, so writing a single giant shader with a lot of code and optional scenarios is often not a good idea.