Material in Godot – Complete Guide

Crafting breathtaking visuals in a game is as essential as weaving an engaging narrative or designing exciting gameplay mechanics. Today, we’ll delve into the realm of materials in Godot 4, a versatile engine that marries simplicity with power, making it a staple choice for indie developers and enthusiasts alike. In this tutorial, we aim to unravel the intricacies of the Material class—one of the core aspects of 3D rendering in Godot that can redefine how players perceive your virtual worlds.

As we embark on this journey through the Material class, we invite you to explore the various ways to add life to your 3D scenes. Whether you’re new to Godot or looking to refine your skills, this tutorial is designed to offer valuable insights into the art of material design.

What is Material in Godot 4?

Material in Godot 4 serves as an abstract base class for all types of materials used in coloring and shading 3D geometry. Within the Godot engine, this class acts as a foundation for various material types, each with specific applications in rendering scenes with accuracy and artistic flair.

What is it for?

Materials are pivotal in defining the appearance of in-game objects—modulating everything from their color and texture to how they interact with light. Leveraging Godot’s Material class, artists and developers can create stunning visual effects, establish mood and atmosphere, and enhance the overall aesthetic of the game.

Why Should I Learn About Materials in Godot 4?

Understanding materials in Godot is crucial for:

– Bringing realism or stylized looks to your 3D models
– Optimizing the rendering process by understanding material properties and methods
– Expanding your skill set to include vital knowledge for any 3D game development platform

Learning how materials work will not only boost the visual appeal of your projects but also equip you with the skills to push the boundaries of Godot’s powerful rendering capabilities. Now, let’s dive into the world of Godot 4 materials and start embracing the full potential of your creations.

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Creating a Material

To begin our hands-on exploration, let’s learn how to create a standard material in Godot 4. This basic step is the foundation for all the amazing visual effects we can produce.

var material =

This line of code creates a new instance of `SpatialMaterial`, which is the default material for 3D in Godot.

Applying a Material to a Mesh

Once you’ve created your material, the next logical step is to apply it to a mesh. Assuming you have a mesh instance called `mesh_instance`, here’s how you can apply the new material:

mesh_instance.material_override = material

`material_override` allows you to set a material that overrides the default materials in all of the mesh’s surfaces, providing a quick way to apply a single material to complex models.

Changing Material Properties

Materials come to life when you tweak their properties. Here’s how you can change the albedo (base color) and add a texture to your material:

material.albedo_color = Color(1, 0, 0)
material.albedo_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_texture.png")

The first line changes the base color to red, and the second line applies a texture, instantly making your material more interesting.

Setting Up Transparency

Transparency is a vital feature when creating materials like glass or water. Here’s how you can configure a material to be transparent:

material.flags_transparent = true
material.albedo_color = Color(1, 1, 1, 0.5) # Half-transparent

The `flags_transparent` property enables transparency, and by setting the alpha value of the `albedo_color`, you control the level of transparency.

Creating a ShaderMaterial

Sometimes, the built-in material properties aren’t sufficient for your creative vision. That’s when `ShaderMaterial` comes into play, allowing for custom shader code:

var shader_material =
shader_material.shader = preload("res://path_to_your_shader.shader")

With `ShaderMaterial`, you can use a shader you’ve written to control every aspect of how the surface renders, giving you ultimate creative freedom.

Applying Shader Parameters

To take advantage of your new shader, you may need to set shader parameters:

shader_material.set_shader_param("your_param_name", value)

Replace `”your_param_name”` with the actual parameter name from your shader code and set the `value` to what you want it to be. It’s how you pass data from your code into the shader.

This concludes the second part of our foray into Godot 4 materials. By following the examples above, you’re well on your way to bringing your game worlds to life with dynamic, appealing visuals. Stay tuned for the next part of our tutorial, where we’ll explore even more advanced techniques for crafting materials in Godot 4.

Utilizing Built-in Shaders and Render Modes

Godot 4 not only allows custom shaders but also provides a variety of built-in shaders and render modes that can be easily activated within the `SpatialMaterial`. Let’s explore a few of them:

For instance, to create an emissive material that appears to glow in the dark, you can tweak the emission property:

material.emission = Color(0.8, 0.6, 0.2)
material.emission_energy = 2.0

This code snippet makes your material emit a warm light with a specified intensity.

If you want your material to reflect the environment, you need to enable the metallic property and possibly adjust the roughness:

material.metallic = 1.0
material.roughness = 0.5

This creates a metal-like surface with some degree of reflectivity.

Testing Different Blend Modes

Sometimes you will want to create effects like a semi-transparent ghost or fire. The blend mode in SpatialMaterial allows for different transparency effects:

material.blend_mode = SpatialMaterial.BLEND_MODE_ADD

This sets the material’s blend mode to additive, which is great for light-based effects.

You can also try out other blend modes, such as `BLEND_MODE_MIX` for standard alpha transparency or `BLEND_MODE_MUL` for a multiplying effect.

Depth Drawing for Translucent Materials

For complex scenes, especially where you have translucent materials like glass, controlling depth draw can be essential:

material.depth_draw_mode = SpatialMaterial.DEPTH_DRAW_ALPHA_OPAQUE_PREPASS

This prepass can help with sorting issues often found in scenes with multiple transparent objects.

Detail Mapping for Enhanced Textures

To add another layer of detail onto your material, you can use detail maps:

material.detail_albedo = preload("res://path_to_your_detail_texture.png")
material.detail_blend_mode = SpatialMaterial.DETAIL_BLEND_MODE_MUL

By using the detail textures, you enhance the resolution of your object’s surface without requiring a high-resolution base texture.

Adjusting Texture Repeat and Scale

If you want to repeat or scale textures in your material, you can easily modify the UV properties:

material.uv1_scale = Vector2(2, 2)
material.uv1_offset = Vector2(0.5, 0.5)

With these properties, you can control how textures are mapped across the surface of the object, dramatically changing its appearance with minimal effort.

Normal Mapping for Realistic Lighting Effects

Normal mapping can give a flat surface the illusion of depth and detail. Here’s how you can add a normal map to your material:

material.normal_enabled = true
material.normal_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_normal_map.png")

This snippet tells the engine to use the provided normal map to simulate texture depth during lighting calculations.

By integrating these techniques into your development process, you can significantly elevate the visual complexity and appeal of your 3D models in Godot 4. Experiment with different properties and blend modes to find the perfect look for your game’s environment and characters. Keep practicing and exploring—there are endless creative possibilities waiting for you in the world of materials and shaders in Godot 4.Building upon our journey through the realm of Godot 4 materials, we now delve deeper into the techniques that will refine the aesthetics of our game.

Our first code example involves using a fresnel effect to simulate the way light reflects off surfaces at glancing angles—a powerful addition for materials like plastic or glass:

material.params_use_fresnel = true
material.params_fresnel_tint = Color(1, 0.8, 0.6)
material.params_fresnel_power = 2.5

With these lines, we’ve activated the fresnel effect on the material and adjusted its color and power to achieve the desired visual outcome.

Next, ambient occlusion maps can add incredible depth to textures by simulating areas where ambient light is less likely to reach:

material.ao_texture_channel = SpatialMaterial.TEXTURE_CHANNEL_RED
material.ao_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_ao_texture.png")

These two lines specify which channel of the texture is used for the ambient occlusion effect and set the ambient occlusion texture, respectively.

For materials that require a transparent and reflective surface, such as water, we can combine transparency with reflectivity:

material.refraction = 0.85
material.refraction_texture_channel = SpatialMaterial.TEXTURE_CHANNEL_ALPHA
material.refraction_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_refractive_texture.png")

Here, the refraction is set, along with an alpha channel to dictate the amount of refraction per pixel, providing a more realistic transparent material.

In addition to static properties, procedural materials can offer dynamic results. The following example demonstrates how you can animate the UV coordinates over time to create the illusion of moving water or clouds:

extends SpatialMaterial

func _process(delta):
    self.uv1_offset.x += 0.01 * delta
    self.uv1_offset.y += 0.01 * delta

This script would be attached to the material resource, gradually shifting the texture coordinates each frame to create motion.

Let’s take a look at how to manage rendering priority for transparent materials, ensuring they render in the correct order to avoid visual artifacts:

material.render_priority = 1

The `render_priority` property allows you to control the order in which transparent materials are drawn.

Finally, we’ll introduce how to use emission masks to create emissive details on non-emissive surfaces:

material.emission_texture = preload("res://path_to_your_emission_map.png")
material.emission_operator = SpatialMaterial.EMISSION_OP_ADD

By combining an emission map with an operator, you can specify which parts of your material should glow and which should not, creating intricate lighting designs on any surface.

As with all features of any powerful game engine like Godot, it is of utmost importance to experiment and play around with these properties. Doing so is the best way to learn the nuances of Godot 4’s advanced material system and to unlock the full potential of your game’s visual appeal. Keep iterating, keep fine-tuning, and above all, keep creating—the artistry you can achieve with Godot’s materials is limitless.

Where to Go Next in Your Godot Journey

Congratulations on taking these foundational steps into the world of materials in Godot 4! As you continue to experiment with materials, shaders, and rendering techniques, remember that this is just the beginning of what’s possible in game development with Godot.

To further fuel your growth as a game developer, we highly recommend checking out our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This mini-degree is an all-encompassing series of courses that will take you from the basics of the Godot engine to crafting cross-platform games with both 2D and 3D assets. It’s a journey through the engine’s lightweight framework, designed to bolster your portfolio with practical projects and significant expertise in creating real-world game mechanics.

Additionally, for those eager to broaden their skill set within this powerful engine, explore our full range of Godot courses. These courses offer an expansive curriculum catering to both beginners and seasoned developers, providing you with the tools to propel your career to new heights.

Don’t hesitate to continue your education with us. Whether you aim to build your very first game or refine your existing development skills, Zenva’s resources are designed to support your journey from start to finish. Keep learning, keep creating, and transform your passion into a tangible, playable reality.


Now that we’ve taken a glimpse into the vibrant world of Godot 4 materials, you’re equipped with knowledge that lays the groundwork for crafting immersive environments and characters. The power of Godot’s Material class, combined with your creativity, sets the stage for producing unique gaming experiences that captivate and charm players. Remember, the nuances of materials and shaders can be the difference between a game that looks good and one that looks spectacular.

As you march ahead on your game development path, keep honing your skills with us at Zenva. Dive deeper into your exploration of Godot with our comprehensive Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, where a trove of knowledge awaits to unlock the full potential of your creative vision. Let these tools inspire you, guide you, and ultimately, let them be the canvas for your masterpiece. Happy developing!

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