VisualShaderNodeInput in Godot – Complete Guide

Visual shaders in Godot 4 represent an exciting world of graphic effects and gameplay enhancement opportunities, and central to this realm is the VisualShaderNodeInput class. With Godot 4, creating visually stunning games becomes more accessible and flexible, allowing developers of all skill levels to implement complex shaders without the need to write complicated code. By mastering VisualShaderNodeInput, you’ll be tapping directly into the visual prowess of Godot 4, unlocking a toolbox that can bring your game’s aesthetics to life.

What is VisualShaderNodeInput?

VisualShaderNodeInput is a class within the Godot Engine that functions as a gateway to various shader inputs or built-in variables. These inputs are the fundamental parameters that shaders use to produce the final visual effects on-screen. With Godot’s visual shader graph, these nodes become visual blocks that can be connected to create complex shader functionalities.

What is it for?

The primary purpose of VisualShaderNodeInput is to offer a convenient and visual approach to handling shader parameters. This node allows you to access and manipulate inputs for the vertex, fragment, and light shader functions within Godot’s Shader Language. It simplifies the process of creating dynamic visual effects such as lighting changes, texture manipulations, and vertex displacements that react to game events or environmental factors.

Why Should I Learn About VisualShaderNodeInput?

Understanding how to utilize the VisualShaderNodeInput is vital for anyone looking to create or enhance the visual aspects of their games. It opens up possibilities for:

– Crafting custom shaders without the need to write complex GLSL code.
– Quickly prototyping visual concepts.
– Tailoring visual effects to respond dynamically to game logic.

Learning about this class can significantly streamline your development process and allow for greater artistic expression within your projects. Now, let’s begin exploring the practical applications of VisualShaderNodeInput with some coding examples.

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Utilizing Input Nodes for Texture Effects

Texture effects can range from simple texture adjustments to complex animated surfaces. Let’s start with the basic usage of the VisualShaderNodeInput node to manipulate textures.

var texture_input =
texture_input.input_name = "UV"
var texture =
texture.texture = preload("res://path_to_your_texture.png")

# Connect the UV input to the texture
visual_shader.node_connect(texture_input.get_output_port(), texture.get_input_port(0))

This snippet shows how to reference the UV coordinates of the object to map a texture onto its surface. You can easily experiment with different textures by changing the file path.

Creating a Color Shift Effect

Next, let’s use the VisualShaderNodeInput to create a dynamic color shift effect, which can be used to represent different environmental effects or health states in a game character.

var color_input =
color_input.input_name = "COLOR"
var time_input =
time_input.input_name = "TIME"
var sine =
sine.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN

# Connect the time to the sine function to get a value that oscillates
visual_shader.node_connect(time_input.get_output_port(), sine.get_input_port(0))

var color_op =
color_op.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_ADD

# Connect the color and sine function to the operation
visual_shader.node_connect(color_input.get_output_port(), color_op.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(sine.get_output_port(), color_op.get_input_port(1))

This example demonstrates manipulating the COLOR input alongside TIME to produce a sine wave effect on the object’s color.

Implementing a Dissolve Effect Using Input Nodes

A popular shader effect in games is the ‘dissolve’ effect, typically used when an object is disappearing or transitioning. Here’s how you can use VisualShaderNodeInput to achieve this effect:

var screen_uv =
screen_uv.input_name = "SCREEN_UV"
var texture_uniform =
texture_uniform.texture_type = VisualShaderNodeTextureUniform.TYPE_DATA

# Assuming you have a dissolve texture prepared as a uniform

var dissolve_amount =
dissolve_amount.uniform_name = "dissolve_amount"

# Connect the nodes to compare the dissolve texture with a uniform scalar (amount)
var compare =
compare.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_GREATER_THAN
visual_shader.node_connect(texture_uniform.get_output_port(), compare.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(dissolve_amount.get_output_port(), compare.get_input_port(1))

# Finally, we can use this to control the alpha channel of the output color
# Assuming the existence of an output_color variable that's our final object color
visual_shader.node_connect(compare.get_output_port(), output_color.get_input_port(3))

By adjusting the “dissolve_amount” uniform, you can control the threshold at which the texture pixels will begin to disappear, creating the dissolve effect.

Vertex Displacement with Input Nodes

Vertex displacement can create various effects like waving flags or rippling water surfaces. Here’s a simple example of how it can be achieved using VisualShaderNodeInput.

var vertex_position =
vertex_position.input_name = "VERTEX"
var time =
time.input_name = "TIME"

var wave_height =
wave_height.uniform_name = "wave_height"

var sin_wave =
sin_wave.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN

# Connect inputs to create an oscillating wave effect
visual_shader.node_connect(time.get_output_port(), sin_wave.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(sin_wave.get_output_port(), wave_height.get_input_port(0))

var vector_mul =
vector_mul.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.node_connect(wave_height.get_output_port(), vector_mul.get_input_port(1))

# We'll apply the sine wave to the vertex position's Y component
visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_position.get_output_port(), vector_mul.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(vector_mul.get_output_port(), vertex_position.get_input_port(1))

The nodes are connected in such a way that the sine function modifies the Y component of the vertex position based on time, creating an up-and-down motion. By changing the “wave_height” uniform value, you adjust the amplitude of the wave.Let’s delve further into the capabilities of VisualShaderNodeInput by exploring more complex effects. These examples will demonstrate how to leverage different inputs to achieve varied visual styles and behaviors in Godot 4.

Creating a Dynamic Lighting Effect

Dynamic lighting can add depth and realism to your game. Here’s how to use a Normal input to create a simple dynamic lighting effect in a fragment shader:

var normal_input =
normal_input.input_name = "NORMAL"
var light_dir =
light_dir.uniform_name = "light_direction"

# Calculate the dot product between the normal and the light direction
var dot_product =
dot_product.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorScalarOp.OP_DOT
visual_shader.node_connect(normal_input.get_output_port(), dot_product.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(light_dir.get_output_port(), dot_product.get_input_port(1))

# Adjust the result to be used as a light intensity multiplier
var light_intensity =
visual_shader.node_connect(dot_product.get_output_port(), light_intensity.get_input_port(1))

This shader code calculates the dot product between the surface normals and a light direction, which you can control through a uniform. The result is an intensity value that gives the illusion of a dynamic light source.

Implementing a Fresnel Effect

The Fresnel effect simulates the way light reflects off of surfaces at glancing angles. It can be used to create rim lighting or to simulate reflective materials:

var view_dir_input =
view_dir_input.input_name = "VIEW"
var normal_input =
normal_input.input_name = "NORMAL"

# Normalize the view and normal vectors
var normalize_view =
normalize_view.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_NORMALIZE
var normalize_normal =
normalize_normal.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_NORMALIZE
visual_shader.node_connect(view_dir_input.get_output_port(), normalize_view.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(normal_input.get_output_port(), normalize_normal.get_input_port(0))

# Calculate the Fresnel term using the dot product
var fresnel_dot =
fresnel_dot.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorScalarOp.OP_DOT
visual_shader.node_connect(normalize_view.get_output_port(), fresnel_dot.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(normalize_normal.get_output_port(), fresnel_dot.get_input_port(1))

var fresnel_effect =
fresnel_effect.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_ABS
visual_shader.node_connect(fresnel_dot.get_output_port(), fresnel_effect.get_input_port(0))

By using the absolute value of the dot product between the normalized view direction and normal, we can achieve a simple Fresnel effect.

Applying a Heat Distortion Effect

Heat distortion is a popular effect that can simulate the refractive waves above a hot surface:

var screen_uv_input =
screen_uv_input.input_name = "SCREEN_UV"
var time_input =
time_input.input_name = "TIME"

# Create a noise texture for distortion
var noise_tex =
noise_tex.texture = preload("res://path_to_your_noise_texture.png")

# Offset UVs based on noise and time
var uv_offset =
uv_offset.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_ADD
visual_shader.node_connect(screen_uv_input.get_output_port(), uv_offset.get_input_port(0))

var time_mult =
time_mult.uniform_name = "time_multiplier"
visual_shader.node_connect(time_input.get_output_port(), time_mult.get_input_port(0))
var noise_uv =
noise_uv.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.node_connect(noise_tex.get_output_port(), noise_uv.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(time_mult.get_output_port(), noise_uv.get_input_port(1))

visual_shader.node_connect(noise_uv.get_output_port(), uv_offset.get_input_port(1))

In this example, the noise texture is animated by the time input, and these animated UV coordinates offset the screen texture UVs, creating a distortion effect reminiscent of heat haze.

Creating a Toon Shader with Quantized Lighting

Toon shading, also known as cel shading, is a technique that creates a more stylized, non-photorealistic look. The following demonstrates how to use the VisualShaderNodeInput to get a quantized lighting effect:

var light_input =
light_input.input_name = "LIGHT"
var normal_input =
normal_input.input_name = "NORMAL"

# Calculate dot product between normal and light direction
var dot =
dot.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorScalarOp.OP_DOT
visual_shader.node_connect(normal_input.get_output_port(), dot.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(light_input.get_output_port(), dot.get_input_port(1))

# Quantize the dot product to achieve a toon effect
var quantize =
quantize.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_FLOOR
var quantize_step =
quantize_step.uniform_name = "quantize_steps"
visual_shader.node_connect(dot.get_output_port(), quantize.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(quantize_step.get_output_port(), quantize.get_input_port(1))

This code snippet illustrates how to flatten the light response to discrete steps, giving the final rendered image a characteristic toon shading look. The uniform quantize_steps allows you to control the number of light levels present in the final effect.

By gaining proficiency in these examples, you’re not just learning how to write shaders in Godot 4 but mastering a graphical language that can transform your creative vision into reality. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned game developer, the power of VisualShaders in Godot 4 awaits to elevate your game development journey.Let’s advance our understanding by delving into further practical applications of VisualShaderNodeInput. Below are additional code examples showcasing more advanced and varied uses, which will not only enhance visual fidelity but can also add interactive elements to your game.

Animated Water Reflections

Simulating moving water reflections can drastically improve the environment’s realism. Let’s create a simple animated reflection effect:

var screen_uv =
screen_uv.input_name = "SCREEN_UV"
var time =
time.input_name = "TIME"

var wave_speed =
wave_speed.uniform_name = "wave_speed"

# Animate UV coordinates over time
var uv_animation =
uv_animation.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_ADD

visual_shader.node_connect(screen_uv.get_output_port(), uv_animation.get_input_port(0))

var move_dir =
move_dir.uniform_name = "move_direction"
var time_speed =
time_speed.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.node_connect(time.get_output_port(), time_speed.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(wave_speed.get_output_port(), time_speed.get_input_port(1))

visual_shader.node_connect(move_dir.get_output_port(), uv_animation.get_input_port(1))
visual_shader.node_connect(time_speed.get_output_port(), uv_animation.get_input_port(2))

This code creates a continuous UV offset over time to simulate the movement of waves across the screen, which can look like the reflection of light on water.

Simulating a Holographic Display

Holographic displays are a popular science fiction element in games. Achieving this hologram look can be done as follows:

var uv =
uv.input_name = "UV"
var time =
time.input_name = "TIME"

var wave =
wave.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN

# We use TIME to create an oscillating sine wave
visual_shader.node_connect(time.get_output_port(), wave.get_input_port(0))

var uv_offset =
uv_offset.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_ADD

# We apply this wave to the UVs for a holographic flicker
visual_shader.node_connect(uv.get_output_port(), uv_offset.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(wave.get_output_port(), uv_offset.get_input_port(1))

This code uses a sine wave to manipulate UV coordinates, which provides that distinctive “shimmering” holographic display effect.

Camera-Facing Particles

For particle effects like smoke or fire to appear more realistic, they should face the camera at all times. Here’s how we can achieve this:

var particle_quad =
particle_quad.input_name = "QUAD"
var camera_vec =
camera_vec.input_name = "CAMERA_VEC"

# We determine the right vector as a cross product of the camera_vec and Y axis
var right_vec =
right_vec.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_CROSS
var up_y =
up_y.constant = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
visual_shader.node_connect(camera_vec.get_output_port(), right_vec.get_input_port(0))
visual_shader.node_connect(up_y.get_output_port(), right_vec.get_input_port(1))

# The particle quad now faces the camera
visual_shader.node_connect(particle_quad.get_output_port(), right_vec.get_input_port(2))

By computing the right vector with a cross product, we can orient particles to always face the camera.

Blinking Sprite Effect

A blinking effect can indicate a character’s invulnerability or grab the player’s attention. You can use the TIME input for this:

var time =
time.input_name = "TIME"

var blink_speed =
blink_speed.uniform_name = "blink_speed"

var blink =
blink.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN

# Connect the blink speed to time input
visual_shader.node_connect(time.get_output_port(), blink_speed.get_input_port(0))

# We now have an oscillating value to modify sprite visibility
visual_shader.node_connect(blink_speed.get_output_port(), blink.get_input_port(0))

A sine wave based on time gives an oscillating pattern used to modify the sprite’s transparency, creating a blinking effect.

Overall, Godot’s VisualShaderNodeInput acts as a building block for achieving varied and complex visual effects in your games. By mastering this node, you capably weave dynamic visuals into gameplays, creating engaging and immersive experiences for your players. With our hands-on examples above and the boundless potential of shaders in Godot 4, you are well-equipped to take your game’s visual aesthetics to the next level.

Continuing Your Godot Programming Journey

Mastering VisualShaderNodeInput and its applications within Godot 4 is just the beginning of an exhilarating journey into game development. To continue expanding your skill set and to dive deeper into the many facets of creating games with Godot, exploring further learning resources is a must for any aspiring game developer.

We at Zenva encourage you to keep building on the foundation you’ve established. For a structured and comprehensive learning path, consider our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This series of courses will guide you through the process of creating various types of games, covering a plethora of topics and game mechanics. Whether you are just starting or seeking to level up your game development skills, the flexibility and depth of our curriculum will support your growth and enable you to build a professional portfolio.

For an even broader exploration of what Godot has to offer, take a look at our full range of Godot courses. These lessons, taught by qualified instructors, will help you harness the power of one of the most versatile and community-embraced game engines available — ensuring you have the tools to turn your creative visions into reality.


Stepping into the world of visual shaders with Godot 4 is like unlocking a treasure trove of creative potential. The VisualShaderNodeInput is a powerful ally in creating dynamic, eye-catching effects that can elevate your game from good to mesmerizing. As you’ve seen through our practical examples, whether it’s simulating water reflections, crafting holographic displays, or making sprites blink, the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.

But why stop there? Unleash your full creativity by diving into our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, where you can sharpen your skills and bring even the most ambitious game ideas to life. Each step you take with our expert-crafted courses will bring you closer not just to mastering Godot, but to becoming the game developer you’ve always dreamed to be. So why wait? Join us at Zenva and embark on a journey to create, innovate, and inspire with your unique game projects!


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