VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to this immersive tutorial on the “VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade” within the Godot 4 engine. In the realm of game development, the ability to create stunning visual effects can often distinguish between an amateur and a professional-looking game. One such effect is the ‘distance fade,’ which can grant your projects a touch of realism and visual flair. Whether you’re a budding game developer or an experienced coder looking to expand your skill set, understanding how to implement distance fade effects using Godot 4’s VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade can be both rewarding and instrumental.

What is VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade?

VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade is a specialized node within Godot’s visual shader editing environment. This node provides game developers with a handy way to implement a fade effect based on the distance of an object from a particular point in the scene. To put it simply, it’s a tool that can make objects gradually disappear as they move further away from the camera, or another reference point.

What is it for?

VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade can be used for a variety of purposes in a game’s visual design:
– It can create a sense of depth in your game environments by providing a fog-like effect.
– It can be instrumental in optimizing performance, as distant objects can be faded out, thus reducing the rendering load.
– It can also be used for artistic reasons, blending objects into the background to control the focus of the player’s attention.

Why Should You Learn It?

Understanding how to utilize VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade will enhance your proficiency in creating immersive and dynamic environments within Godot. Learning to apply such visual effects can significantly contribute to your development:
– It adds a layer of professionalism to your visual presentation.
– Increases performance, crucial for maintaining smooth gameplay.
– Opens up additional creative avenues for storytelling and gameplay dynamics.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll possess a solid grasp of how to leverage the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade node to elevate the visual quality of your games. Let’s dive in and discover how to bring this powerful visual tool into your development arsenal!

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Setting Up Your Godot Project for VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade

Before we delve into the examples, ensure your Godot project is correctly set up to use shaders. Here’s how to get started:

Creating a New Shader Material:

  • First, select the MeshInstance in your scene.
  • In the Material slot of the Inspector, create a new ShaderMaterial.
  • Once you have a ShaderMaterial, create a new VisualShader inside it.
// Example: Creating a ShaderMaterial and a new VisualShader in GDScript
var material =
var shader =
material.shader = shader
$MeshInstance.material = material

Opening the Visual Shader Editor:
Once you have your VisualShader ready, click on it to open the Visual Shader Editor. This is where you’ll be able to add and configure the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade.

Implementing a Basic Distance Fade

Now, we’ll introduce the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade to implement a basic fading effect as the object moves away from the camera.

Adding the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade:

  • Drag the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade from the node library into the shader graph.
  • Connect the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade output to the Alpha channel of the shader’s output node.

Configuring the Node Parameters:
The node comes with two parameters to define its behavior: Fade Start and Fade Length.

  • Fade Start: The distance from the object where fading begins.
  • Fade Length: The range of distance over which the object fades completely.

Now let’s look at how these parameters can be set within the visual shader editor:

// No direct code example for the visual editor,
// but here's how you could configure the node after adding it to the graph:

1. Click on the DistanceFade node to select it.
2. In the right-side panel, set the Fade Start to the desired starting point.
3. Adjust the Fade Length to control how quickly the object fades.

Enhancing the Fade with a Gradient Texture

To obtain a more controlled fade, you can enhance the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade’s effect by using a GradientTexture. This allows for a non-linear fade, with the gradient’s alpha values determining the fade at different points.

Creating and Applying a GradientTexture:

  • Create a new GradientTexture and open its gradient editor.
  • Set up your gradient alpha to create the non-linear fade effect.
  • Connect the GradientTexture to the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade’s Alpha input.

Here’s a basic example of setting up a GradientTexture in GDScript and applying it to the shader:

// Example: Creating a GradientTexture and applying it to the shader
var gradient_texture =
var gradient =
gradient.add_point(0.0, Color(1, 1, 1, 1)) // Opaque at the start
gradient.add_point(1.0, Color(1, 1, 1, 0)) // Transparent at the end
gradient_texture.gradient = gradient
shader.set_shader_param('fade_gradient_texture', gradient_texture)

The Shader parameter ‘fade_gradient_texture’ would be the name you’d use to refer to your GradientTexture inside your shader code or Visual Shader graph.

Customizing Fade Based on Object Properties

Sometimes, you will want the fade to not only depend on the distance but also on specific properties of the object, like its scale or orientation. You can pass these properties to the shader to manipulate the fade effect.

Passing Object Scale to Shader:
Using the ‘world_vertex’ built-in, you can pass the vertex position to the shader and multiply it by the scale to adjust the fade effect.

// Example: Passing object scale information to the visual shader
// This snippet would go into your object’s script, which passes its scale to the shader
var scale = $MeshInstance.transform.basis.get_scale()
shader.set_shader_param('object_scale', scale)

Within the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade, you need to modify its setup to use this scale information to affect the fading.

Manipulating Orientation for Fade Direction:
To make the fade effect respond to orientation, you can calculate a dot product between a direction vector and the vertex normal in the shader.

// No direct code example - described conceptually
1. Use a 'Normal' node to get the object's normal direction in the visual shader.
2. Add a 'Vector Op' node and set it to 'Dot Product'.
3. Connect the normal to one input and your direction vector to the other.
4. Use the resulting scalar to influence the 'Fade Start' and 'Fade Length' parameters.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore how these fundamentals can be combined to create complex and visually appealing fade effects, enhancing the ambiance and performance of your game. Stay tuned for the next installment, where we’ll build upon our knowledge and introduce more advanced examples!Let’s continue enhancing our mastery over the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade by delving into more sophisticated scenarios and adding corresponding code examples that demonstrate the versatility of this powerful node.

Animating Fade Parameters:
To create dynamic effects, such as objects that fade in and out based on gameplay events or environmental factors, we can animate the fade parameters over time or in response to player actions.

// Example: Animate Fade Start over time
var time_passed = 0.0

func _process(delta):
    time_passed += delta
    var fade_start_value = sin(time_passed) * 10.0  // Creates an oscillating effect.
    shader.set_shader_param('fade_start', fade_start_value)

This GDScript snippet adjusts the Fade Start parameter over time, creating an effect where the fade boundary oscillates, making the objects appear as if they’re breathing.

Adjusting Fade with Camera Distance:
You might want your object to fade based on its distance from the camera, which can provide a cue to players about the relative importance or interactivity of distant objects.

// Example: Adjusting Fade Start based on Camera Distance
var camera = get_viewport().get_camera()

func _process(delta):
    var distance_to_camera = global_transform.origin.distance_to(camera.global_transform.origin)
    shader.set_shader_param('fade_start', distance_to_camera - 5.0)
    shader.set_shader_param('fade_length', 10.0)

By using the camera’s position relative to the object, we can dynamically adjust the Fade Start value, ensuring a consistent experience as the player navigates the environment.

Integrating Scene Lighting With Fade:
You can also consider the scene’s ambient light or other lighting factors to affect the fade, creating a more realistic and environmentally-conscious visualization.

// Example: Modify Fade Start based on Ambient Light Intensity
var ambient_light_intensity = get_tree().get_root().get_environment().ambient_light_energy

func _ready():
    shader.set_shader_param('ambient_light_intensity', ambient_light_intensity)

This example takes into account the ambient light energy from the environment. The shader then uses this value to scale the fade parameters, allowing objects to appear more integrated within the scene lighting.

Combining DistanceFade with Other Visual Shaders:
Often, you’ll find it beneficial to combine the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade with textures, screen-space reflections, or other visual effects for a richer experience.

// Example: Combine DistanceFade with a Texture
// This VisualShader logic is implemented within the Visual Shader Editor
// 1. Add a Texture Uniform node and load your texture.
// 2. Connect the Texture's output to an Albedo input on the shader's output node.
// 3. Add a DistanceFade node.
// 4. Multiplying DistanceFade's alpha output with the Texture's alpha before connecting to the shader's Alpha channel.

The shader now applies the fade effect while maintaining the texture’s appearance, smoothly blending the object into the scene as it recedes.

Through these examples, you can observe the flexibility and depth that VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade brings to Godot’s shading capabilities. Whether you’re looking to add simple atmospheric effects, optimize your game’s performance, or craft complex visual narratives, harnessing this node can significantly elevate your game’s visual fidelity.

Experimenting with these practical examples will not only ground your understanding of Godot’s visual shader environment but will also empower your creativity, allowing you to customize each effect to fit the unique needs and style of your game. Embrace the node’s capacities, and your games will undoubtedly stand out with a more polished and engaging aesthetic.Incorporating the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade into your project can transform how players engage with your game’s environment. Below are additional examples to further expand your ability to use this node creatively and effectively in Godot 4.

Detecting Object Visibility for Gameplay:
Sometimes, you may want to tie gameplay mechanics to whether an object is visible or has faded out completely. You can use the shader parameters to determine the object’s visibility in connection to the player character or camera.

// Example: Check if an object is within the visible range.
var fade_start = 20.0
var fade_length = 10.0
var player_position = $Player.global_transform.origin

func _process(delta):
    var distance = global_transform.origin.distance_to(player_position)
    var is_visible = distance < fade_start + fade_length
    if is_visible:
        # Execute logic when the object is still visible.
        # Execute logic when the object has faded out.

This script would go on the object you’re applying the fade to and allows you to decide what happens next based on whether the object is visible to the player or not.

Creating a Distance Fade Effect on UI Elements:
VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade is not just for 3D objects in space; it can also be applied to UI elements for a dynamic interface, fading elements in and out based on player interaction or game states.

// Example: Dynamically fade UI elements
func _process(delta):
    var distance_to_camera = $Camera.global_transform.origin.distance_to($UIElement.global_transform.origin)
    var fade_out_start = 3.0
    var ui_alpha = clamp((distance_to_camera - fade_out_start) / fade_length, 0.0, 1.0)
    $UIElement.modulate.a = ui_alpha

In this script, we dynamically adjust the alpha value of a UI element based on its distance to the camera, giving the impression of the UI fading in and out as the camera moves.

Adjusting Fade Based on Light Occlusion:
You might want objects to only fade when they’re not directly illuminated by a light source. This can be simulated by calculating light occlusion and incorporating it into your fade logic.

// Example: Adjust fade start based on light occlusion
// Assume 'calculate_occlusion()' is a function that returns a float between 0 and 1.
func _process(delta):
    var occlusion = calculate_occlusion()  // Placeholder for your occlusion logic.
    var base_fade_start = 50.0
    shader.set_shader_param('fade_start', base_fade_start * occlusion)

This GDScript snippet assumes you have a method for determining how much a light source occludes an object, which then modifies the fade start parameter.

Creating a Color Tint Based on Fade:
Additionally, you might want the color of an object to change as it fades away, creating a more nuanced visual effect, akin to objects taking on the color of the atmosphere or fog as they distance themselves.

// Example: Adjust color based on fade
// This logic is implemented in the Visual Shader Editor

// VisualShader logic:
1. Add a new Color uniform to your shader.
2. Add a 'Scalar Interpolate' node and connect 'Fade' to its factor.
3. The original object color and the fade color are inputs to interpolate.
4. The output provides a smoothly transitioning color that changes as the object fades.

// GDScript to set fade color from script
shader.set_shader_param('fade_color', Color(0.8, 0.9, 1.0, 1.0))  // Soft blue tint

This visual shader logic allows for an object to gradually shift color as it fades, blending more naturally with the environment or giving off a certain emotional or visual cue.

Implementing these examples into your VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade workflow will augment your game visuals and create more dynamic player experiences. Remember that the versatility of shaders in Godot enables developers to think outside the box. Combine these techniques, iterate on them, and continue to explore the infinite creative possibilities that Godot’s shading language provides. With practice, you’ll be able to weave these visual elements seamlessly into the fabric of your game worlds.

Next Steps in Your Game Development Journey

Armed with the knowledge of how to incorporate the VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade in Godot 4, you’ve added an essential visual effect to your game development toolkit. To continue expanding your abilities and keep that momentum going, visit our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, where you’ll have access to a wealth of resources that will take your skills to the next level.

Our Godot 4 Game Development Mini-Degree is packed with practical, hands-on courses tailored for aspiring developers who want to thrive in the world of game creation. You’ll learn the ins and outs of both 2D and 3D game development, how to craft engaging gameplay Mechanics, and much more. The structured learning path is perfect for beginners and also caters to those who wish to refine their skill set further.

For a broader array of Godot tutorials and courses, make sure to explore our collection of Godot courses. Consistently learning and practicing new concepts are key to your growth as a game developer. Whether you’re looking to start your career or aiming to polish your game project to a professional sheen, Zenva’s courses stand as your companion on this exciting path.


In conclusion, mastering visual effects like the one offered by VisualShaderNodeDistanceFade can significantly elevate the visual quality of your Godot games. It’s abilities like these that enable you to craft not just games, but compelling experiences that resonate with players. Remember, every step you take in learning and applying new techniques is a leap towards becoming a proficient developer in the vibrant and ever-evolving game industry.

We at Zenva encourage you to keep building, experimenting, and expanding your horizons. Delve into our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree to continue learning and enhance your projects with professional-level skills. It’s a journey worth taking—your future in game development starts with the knowledge you accumulate today. Happy coding, and may your passion for game development continue to drive you towards creating unforgettable gaming experiences!


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