GLTFNode in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to a comprehensive journey into the world of GLTFNode in Godot 4! If you’ve ever dabbled in the exciting world of game development or are looking to start, understanding how to work with 3D models and their nodes is a crucial step. Godot 4’s GLTFNode class plays a pivotal role in this process, allowing developers to handle the nitty-gritty details of GLTF files with ease. Read on as we delve into the intricacies of GLTFNode, explore its properties and methods, and learn why mastering it might just be the key to bringing your 3D game world to life!

What is GLTFNode?

GLTFNode is a pivotal Resource class in Godot’s stable of 3D tools that represents nodes within a GLTF model. GLTF, or the Graphics Language Transmission Format, is a fast and versatile format for the delivery of 3D content. Nodes are essential elements in this setup, signifying various objects within a GLTF file, such as meshes, cameras, and lights. They hold transformations, hierarchies, and additional data that can further enhance functionality.

What is it for?

In the realm of 3D graphics, a node-based architecture is instrumental for constructing a digital scene. Just like an artist meticulously positions and moves elements on a canvas, the GLTFNode enables you to manipulate the positioning, scaling, and rotation of entities within your GLTF scene in Godot. The nodes form a hierarchical structure, allowing for complex relationships and transformations that reflect in the rendered game world.

Why Should I Learn About GLTFNode?

Learning about the GLTFNode can be transformative for your 3D game development ambitions. With a grasp of this class:

– You can effectively manage and orchestrate your game’s 3D assets, making your workflow more efficient and organized.
– Possess the ability to extend the functionality of nodes to suit specific needs, thanks to Godot’s flexible structure.
– Understand nodes at a granular level, strengthening your overall 3D programming skill set, which is transferable to other areas of game development and beyond.

By mastering GLTFNode, you’re not just learning about a class in Godot; you’re unlocking potential within yourself to innovate and create in the world of gaming. Let’s dive in and get started with our first examples in the sections to come!

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Initializing a GLTFNode

Before we delve into the intricacies of manipulating a GLTFNode, let’s start by initializing one in Godot 4. This first example shows how to create a GLTFNode instance:

var gltf_node =

This code snippet is straightforward, calling the `new()` constructor to create a new instance of GLTFNode.

Loading and Adding a GLTFNode to the Scene

Once you have a GLTFNode instance, you’ll want to load a GLTF file and add it to the scene. Here’s how you can load a GLTF file from your project’s file system:

var gltf_scene = preload("res://path_to_your_gltf_file.gltf")
var gltf_instance = gltf_scene.instance()

In this example, `preload()` loads the GLTF file we specify by path. The `instance()` method creates an instance of the scene, and `add_child()` adds it as a child node to the current scene node.

Accessing and Modifying Node Properties

After adding the GLTFNode to your scene, you might want to alter its properties. Below, we modify the scale and visibility of the node:

gltf_instance.scale = Vector3(2, 2, 2) # Scales the node up by a factor of two
gltf_instance.visible = false # Makes the node invisible in the scene

Adjusting the `scale` property affects the size of the node, whereas changing the `visible` property toggles its visibility.

Traversal and Manipulation of Child Nodes

A GLTFNode might contain multiple child nodes. To traverse and manipulate these child nodes, Godot provides a range of methods. Here’s how to iterate through child nodes and print their names:

for child_node in gltf_instance.get_children():

Additionally, if you want to hide all the child nodes within the GLTFNode, you could use:

for child_node in gltf_instance.get_children():

Rotating a GLTFNode

Applying a rotation to a node is a common task. Here’s a code snippet that rotates a node around the Y-axis:

gltf_instance.rotate_y(deg2rad(45)) # Rotates the node 45 degrees around the Y-axis

The `rotate_y()` method rotates the node, and the `deg2rad()` utility function converts degrees to radians since Godot’s rotation functions operate with radians.

Applying Animations to GLTFNode

Lastly, let’s discuss applying animations. GLTF files can come with embedded animations, and you can play these using the AnimationPlayer node attached to your GLTFNode:

var animation_player = gltf_instance.find_node("AnimationPlayer", true, false)"name_of_animation")

With the `find_node` method, we search through the node tree for the “AnimationPlayer”. Then, we call the `play()` function on the AnimationPlayer to start the animation.

These basics provide a foundation that you’ll use over and over in Godot 4 as you work with GLTFNode to create your 3D worlds. As you experiment with these examples, you’ll see firsthand the power and flexibility they provide in developing rich, interactive game scenes.

Manipulating the Transformation of GLTFNode

Transformation refers to the position, rotation, and scale of an object in your game’s world. Godot makes it easy to adjust these properties directly. Here’s how you might change the position of a GLTFNode:

gltf_instance.translation = Vector3(5, 0, 10) # Moves the node to position (5, 0, 10)

To modify the rotation of the GLTFNode using quaternions, you can use:

gltf_instance.rotation = Quat(Vector3(0, 1, 0), deg2rad(90)) # Rotates the node 90 degrees around the Y-axis

And to uniformly scale a GLTFNode, you can do the following:

gltf_instance.scale = Vector3(0.5, 0.5, 0.5) # Uniformly scales the node down by half

Keep in mind that all transformations are relative to the node’s parent. If you need to reset a node to its original transformation, you could:

gltf_instance.set_identity() # Resets the transform to the identity matrix

Working With Materials and Textures

Materials and textures are what give your models their appearance. You can access and modify materials in a GLTFNode like this:

var mesh_instance = gltf_instance.find_node("MeshInstance", true, false)
var material = mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0)
material.albedo_color = Color(1, 0, 0) # Change the albedo color to red

To replace a texture, you would do something like the following:

var new_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_texture.png")
material.albedo_texture = new_texture

Handling GLTFNode Animation Tracks

GLTF files can feature multiple animations with several tracks controlling different properties. Access and control these individual animation tracks using the AnimationPlayer like so:

for animation_name in animation_player.get_animation_list():
    var animation = animation_player.get_animation(animation_name)
    for i in range(animation.get_track_count()):
        var track_path = animation.track_get_path(i)
        print("Animation:", animation_name, " Track Path:", track_path)

This loop gets each animation name and prints out the track paths associated with it.

Responding to User Input

Interactivity is a key component of any game. Let’s make our GLTFNode respond to user input by rotating when an arrow key is pressed:

if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_right"):
    gltf_instance.rotate_y(-deg2rad(1)) # Rotate to the right when the right arrow is pressed

if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_left"):
    gltf_instance.rotate_y(deg2rad(1)) # Rotate to the left when the left arrow is pressed

The rotation value is small to make the movement smooth. For faster rotation, you’d increase the degrees converted to radians.

Working with GLTFNode in Godot 4 can be an exciting venture as you develop your game. We at Zenva encourage you to play around with these examples, tweak them, and see how the changes affect your 3D models in the game environment. Remember, these snippets form the building block of richer game mechanics, and understanding them paves the way to making your very own interactive 3D worlds come to life!As we continue our deep dive into the potential of GLTFNode in Godot 4, branching out into more advanced territory can significantly enhance how we interact with our 3D scenes. Let’s delve into collision shapes, animations with interpolation, node signals, and exporting to GLTF.

Adding Collision Shapes to GLTFNode

Collision detection is essential for making your game world interactive. Assigning a CollisionShape to a mesh within a GLTFNode ensures physical interactions can be detected:

var collision_shape =
var shape =
shape.extents = Vector3(1, 1, 1) # Set the shape's extents
collision_shape.shape = shape

Here, we created a new CollisionShape instance, defined a BoxShape as its shape, and then added the CollisionShape as a child of the GLTFNode.

Animating with Interpolation

Interpolating between values is particularly useful for creating smooth transitions in animations. For example, you might want to interpolate the rotation of a node over time:

var start_rotation = Quat()
var end_rotation = Quat(Vector3(0, 1, 0), deg2rad(180))
var t = 0.0

# Called every frame, 'delta' is the elapsed time since the previous frame.
func _process(delta):
    t += delta
    var interpolated_rotation = start_rotation.slerp(end_rotation, t / 2.0) # Spherical linear interpolation
    if t / 2.0 < 1.0:
        gltf_instance.rotation = interpolated_rotation

This example uses spherical linear interpolation (slerp) between two quaternions over two seconds.

Connecting Node Signals

Nodes in Godot emit signals that can be connected to methods. This is useful for triggering actions when certain events occur:

# Connect the 'visibility_changed' signal to a custom method.
gltf_instance.connect("visibility_changed", self, "_on_GLTNode_visibility_changed")

func _on_GLTNode_visibility_changed():
    print("GLTFNode visibility has changed!")

This would output a message to the console every time the node’s visibility changes.

Exporting GLTFNode to a GLTF File

Godot 4 allows for exporting nodes into GLTF files – handy for creating assets in-engine or sharing with other platforms:

var exporter =
exporter.export_gltf_scene(gltf_instance, "res://exported_scene.gltf")

Given that you have an instantiated GLTFNode object in your scene, this snippet will export it as a new GLTF file onto your project’s file system.

Using GLTFNode Custom Properties

GLTF files can contain custom properties that are accessible from Godot. Here’s how to access a custom property named “my_custom_property”:

var my_property_value = gltf_instance.get("my_custom_property")

Remember that the property must exist in the GLTF file; otherwise, this call will return null.

Modifying the Environment with GLTFNode

You might also want to influence your game’s environment based on the properties or state of a GLTFNode. For instance, you can adjust the environmental light’s intensity or color to match a dynamic or thematic condition:

var world_environment = gltf_instance.get_world().environment
world_environment.background_energy = 0.8 # Dim the background light
world_environment.canvas_max_layer = 2 # Adjust the maximum canvas layer

What you can achieve with GLTFNode in Godot 4 extends far beyond mere static models. By following these code examples and integrating them into your projects, you’ll enhance the interactivity, realism, and dynamics of your 3D scenes. Experimentation is key, so we encourage you to mix and match these examples, get creative with your code, and witness your virtual worlds come to life through Godot’s powerful and user-friendly framework. Happy coding!

Where to Go Next in Your Game Development Journey

With the knowledge you’ve gained on GLTFNode in Godot 4, you’re poised to take your game development skills to even greater heights. If you’re eager to continue expanding your expertise, why not dive into our comprehensive Godot Game Development Mini-Degree? While we don’t focus exclusively on GLTFNode, this in-depth resource covers a vast array of important topics, from the fundamentals of using both 2D and 3D assets to mastering the GDScript programming language, gameplay control flow, combat systems, UI design, and much more.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, our project-based courses are structured to help you create your very own game in under two hours. Plus, with the high demand for skilled game developers, building your abilities could open doors to exciting career opportunities. Our courses are designed for flexible, self-paced learning, allowing you to progress at your own speed and on your own schedule.

And if you’re looking for an even broader array of Godot courses, don’t hesitate to explore our full range of Godot tutorials. At Zenva, our mission is to support your growth from beginner to professional, and we stand by ready to help you every step of the way. So why wait? Take the next step today, and let’s continue crafting the future of game development together!


Embarking on your game development path with Godot 4 opens a universe of possibilities, and a solid understanding of GLTFNode is a shining beacon in that cosmos. With the power to create, manipulate, and animate your 3D models, the games you dream of are at your fingertips. As you progress on this journey, remember that the key to success lies in continual learning and experimentation.

We at Zenva are thrilled to be part of your adventure. Our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is tailored to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to turn your creative visions into playable realities. So, keep on exploring, building, and pushing the boundaries of your capabilities. Together, we can transform the landscape of game development, pixel by pixel, node by node.

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