VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to the fascinating world of Godot 4’s VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray class! If you’ve been eager to dive into the realm of shaders within Godot’s robust engine, you’re exactly where you need to be. This tutorial will introduce you to the capabilities of using a 2D texture array in your shaders, unlocking the potential to create visually stunning effects for your games. We’re confident that by the end of this guide, you’ll appreciate the power this feature adds to your game development toolkit.

What is VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray?

Understanding VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray

At its core, the VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray is a class available in Godot 4 that allows you to define an array of 2D textures as uniforms within a shader. This means you can manage multiple textures in one array, and use them in various ways to enhance your game’s graphics.

What is it Used For?

The VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray can be used in a variety of situations. Whether creating complex materials that change textures based on in-game states, implementing a series of animated frames for a sprite, or even managing variations of terrain textures in a dynamic environment, this node provides a crucial function in visual shader workflows.

Why Should I Learn to Use It?

Learning to utilize the VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray opens up a world of possibility for the visual aspect of your games. It’s about taking control over the details that can make your game visually unique. This skill is beneficial for any game developer who values flexibility and efficiency in their graphic design process.

With that overview in hand, let’s get ready to explore some practical examples of how VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray can be used in Godot 4.

CTA Small Image
FREE COURSES AT ZENVA
LEARN GAME DEVELOPMENT, PYTHON AND MORE
ACCESS FOR FREE
AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY

Creating a VisualShader and Adding a Texture2DArray

To start with, let’s create a simple VisualShader in Godot 4 and add our first Texture2DArray. Open your Godot project and follow these steps:

var shader = VisualShader.new()
var texture_array_node = VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray.new()
shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, texture_array_node, Vector2(0, 0))

This code instantiates a new shader and a VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray, then adds the latter to the fragment function of the shader at position Vector2(0, 0).

Setting Up Textures in an Array

Once you have the Texture2DArray node in place, you need to setup the textures that will be in the array. Here’s a snippet to add and configure a series of textures:

var texture_array = ImageTextureArray.new()
var images = [load("res://texture1.png"), load("res://texture2.png"), ...]

for img in images:
   texture_array.add_texture(img)

We create a new ImageTextureArray, load each texture, and add them to the array using a loop. Make sure to replace the “res://texture1.png” paths with your own asset paths.

Binding the Texture2DArray to the Shader

After populating the texture array, it needs to be bound to the shader. This allows the shader to access the array as a uniform variable during rendering:

var material = ShaderMaterial.new()
material.shader = shader
material.set_shader_param("texture_array", texture_array)

We have created a ShaderMaterial and assigned the shader we created earlier to it. Then, we set the “texture_array” parameter (which is the name of the uniform within the shader code) to our texture array.

Applying the Material to a Mesh

With the material ready, the next step is to apply it to a mesh. Here’s how you can assign the ShaderMaterial to a MeshInstance:

var mesh_instance = MeshInstance.new()
mesh_instance.mesh = some_mesh // Replace 'some_mesh' with your actual mesh resource
mesh_instance.material_override = material

This snippet creates a new MeshInstance, sets its mesh to an existing mesh resource, and finally overrides its material with the ShaderMaterial we’ve been working on.

Accessing the Textures in the Shader

Now that everything is set up, we can start writing shader code to actually use the textures from the array. Add the following code to your shader:

// Your shader code
shader_code: """ 
uniform sampler2DArray texture_array;

void fragment() {
   vec4 color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, 0)); // Use the first texture
   COLOR = color;
}
"""
shader.set_code(shader_code)

We define a uniform sampler2DArray that matches the name of the ShaderMaterial parameter we set earlier. In the fragment function, we sample the texture using ‘texture()’ with the UV coordinates and an index, in this case 0 for the first texture.

Switching Between Textures in the Array

Finally, you might want to switch between different textures in the array dynamically. You’ll need to pass an index to the shader and use it in the texture function. Here’s how to do it programmatically:

// Imagine an AnimatedSprite node with an index property that changes over time
func _process(delta):
   mesh_instance.material_override.set_shader_param("texture_index", animated_sprite.index)

And in your shader:

// Uniform for the index
uniform int texture_index;

void fragment() {
   vec4 color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(texture_index)));
   COLOR = color;
}

By setting the “texture_index” from Godot’s scripting environment, you can change which texture is accessed within the shader based on in-game logic, such as an animation frame index or a random selection.

That concludes the second part of our tutorial. Stay with us for the next section where we will build upon these examples and explore more advanced techniques using the VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray in Godot 4!

In this third section, we will delve deeper into how to leverage the VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray class for more advanced graphical features in Godot 4. Let’s explore techniques like blending textures, accessing textures with mouse input, and more.

Blending Textures from the Array

One common technique in shaders is texture blending. You can linearly interpolate between two textures from your array to create a blend effect. Here’s how you might write your shader code for blending:

// Uniform for the blend factor
uniform float blend_factor;

void fragment() {
    vec4 texture_one = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, 0));
    vec4 texture_two = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, 1));
    vec4 blend_color = mix(texture_one, texture_two, blend_factor);
    COLOR = blend_color;
}

In this example, we sample two textures and use `mix` to blend them based on a blend factor. We assume that blend_factor is a value between 0 and 1, which you would set programmatically:

// Assuming we have a material reference
material.set_shader_param("blend_factor", 0.5) // 50% blend between the first two textures

Animating Textures in the Array Using Time

Another interesting use case is animating between textures in your array over time, similar to a flipbook animation. You can use the shader’s TIME variable to cycle through textures:

void fragment() {
    int max_textures = 3; // Replace this with the total number of textures in your array
    float time_per_frame = 0.25; // How long each frame lasts

    int frame = int(mod(TIME / time_per_frame, float(max_textures)));
    vec4 frame_color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(frame)));
    COLOR = frame_color;
}

This shader code will cycle through up to 3 textures every quarter second. You can adjust `max_textures` and `time_per_frame` to fit your specific needs.

Accessing Textures with Mouse Input

You might want the user to interact with your textures using a mouse. For instance, let’s consider displaying different textures based on mouse position:

// Uniforms for mouse position
uniform vec2 mouse_position; // Values between 0 and 1

void fragment() {
    float texture_index = 0;
    if (UV.x > mouse_position.x) {
        texture_index = 1;
    }
    vec4 mouse_texture = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, texture_index));
    COLOR = mouse_texture;
}

From the script, you would update the mouse position uniform with the normalized screen coordinates:

// Inside a Control node script
func _gui_input(event):
    if event is InputEventMouseMotion:
        var size = get_viewport_rect().size
        var mouse_uv = event.position / size
        material.set_shader_param("mouse_position", mouse_uv)

Creating a Dynamic Terrain Shader

Let’s take a look at a more application-specific example. Say you want to create a dynamic terrain shader where the texture changes based on the world height. Here’s the concept implemented in shader code:

// Uniform for world height
uniform float world_height;

void fragment() {
    int texture_index = int(clamp(UV.y * world_height, 0.0, 1.0));
    vec4 terrain_color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(texture_index)));
    COLOR = terrain_color;
}

And the corresponding script would update the world height as the terrain changes:

// When the terrain height changes
material.set_shader_param("world_height", new_height)

These code examples illustrate the flexibility and power of the VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray class in Godot 4. With thoughtful application, you can create responsive and dynamic graphics that will elevate the visual fidelity of your game projects.

Remember that shaders can get complex, and the key to mastering them is practice and experimentation. We urge you to use these examples as starting points and see where your creativity can take you with Godot 4’s powerful shader tools!

As you become more familiar with VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray, your ability to create unique graphical effects will expand. Let’s explore additional ways in which you can innovate with texture arrays to achieve more complex and professional results in Godot 4.

Here we’ll look into using texture arrays for creating a sprite sheet animation, blending terrain textures based on height maps, using texture arrays for lightmaps, and layering details on environmental objects.

Sprite Sheet Animation with Texture2DArray

In games, it’s common to use sprite sheets for animation. With a Texture2DArray, you can store each frame of an animation and display them in sequence. Below is an example of how to play an animation from a texture array:

// Uniform for animation speed and total frames
uniform float anim_speed;
uniform int total_frames;

void fragment() {
    float frame = mod(TIME * anim_speed, float(total_frames));
    vec4 animated_frame = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, frame));
    COLOR = animated_frame;
}

The script should set the `anim_speed` and `total_frames` uniforms depending on the animation:

material.set_shader_param("anim_speed", 2.0) // 2 frames per second
material.set_shader_param("total_frames", 6)   // Total number of frames in the animation

Height-Based Terrain Texture Blending

A more advanced use of texture arrays is blending multiple textures across a terrain model based on height data. This technique often uses a height map to smoothly blend between textures at different altitudes:

// Uniform for the height map texture
uniform sampler2D height_map;

// Sample the textures and blend them based on height
void fragment() {
    float height = texture(height_map, UV).r;
    int lower_texture_index = int(height * (total_frames - 1));
    int upper_texture_index = min(lower_texture_index + 1, total_frames - 1);
    float blend = fract(height * (total_frames - 1));
  
    vec4 lower_texture = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(lower_texture_index)));
    vec4 upper_texture = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(upper_texture_index)));
    COLOR = mix(lower_texture, upper_texture, blend);
}

The above shader fetches the correct textures based on the height map and the current height value, then blends between the two nearest layers. Ensure to upload and connect the height map texture to the shader:

var height_texture = load("res://height_map.png")
material.set_shader_param("height_map", height_texture)

Utilizing Texture Arrays for Lightmaps

Texture arrays can also be used to store and apply lightmaps to scenes. If you have a series of lightmap textures for different times of day or lighting conditions, you can seamlessly swap or blend them:

// Uniform for time of day (0 = morning, 1 = night)
uniform float time_of_day;

void fragment() {
    int time_index = int(clamp(time_of_day * (total_frames - 1), 0, total_frames - 1));
    vec4 lightmap_color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, float(time_index)));
    COLOR *= lightmap_color; // Multiply the existing color by the lightmap
}

Your script could dynamically set the time_of_day parameter based on the in-game clock:

material.set_shader_param("time_of_day", in_game_time_of_day)

Detail Layering on Environmental Objects

Another sophisticated use of Texture2DArray is to layer details onto objects. This can create a more intricate and realistic appearance by combining multiple detail textures:

// Uniforms for detail texture scales and mix factors
uniform float detail_scale_1;
uniform float detail_mix_1;

void fragment() {
    vec4 base_color = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV, 0));
    vec4 detail_color_1 = texture(texture_array, vec3(UV * detail_scale_1, 1));
    vec4 final_color = mix(base_color, detail_color_1, detail_mix_1);
    COLOR = final_color;
}

Set detail texture parameters to tune the look:

material.set_shader_param("detail_scale_1", 10.0) // Increase the detail texture repeat
material.set_shader_param("detail_mix_1", 0.5)       // Set the mix to 50%

These examples should give you a hint of the impressive versatility and creativity possible with Godot’s VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray. From sprite animations to complex environmental effects, mastering texture arrays will undoubtedly be a significant asset in your game development endeavors.

As always, experimenting with these techniques is the best way to understand and harness their full potential. We encourage you to use our examples as a foundation to build your own unique graphical features and to push the boundaries of what you can accomplish with Godot 4.

Continue Your Godot Learning Journey

You’ve explored the power of VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray in Godot 4, and the next question is: what’s next? The world of game development is expansive, and the journey of learning never truly ends. There’s always a new technique to master, a new feature to try, or a new project to inspire your creativity.

Our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is a next step that promises to take your skills even further. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to upgrade your existing knowledge, the mini-degree holds a treasure trove of courses that cover a wide array of topics in Godot 4. You’ll learn everything from the basics of 2D and 3D game creation, to advanced gameplay mechanics, all at your own pace and with the support of experienced developers and quality content.

And if you’re looking to expand your horizons even broader in Godot, you can explore a range of courses tailored to different aspects of game development—from coding in GDScript to creating complex game systems. Check out our selection of Godot courses to continue your learning path. With Zenva, you can start as a beginner and grow into a professional game developer, creating real projects that showcase your newfound expertise.

Embrace the journey ahead, and keep crafting the games of your dreams with the skills you’ll acquire through Zenva. We’re here to support your growth and help you make those game ideas a reality!

Conclusion

As you’ve ventured through the intricacies of VisualShaderNodeTexture2DArray in Godot 4, you have armed yourself with knowledge that can richly enhance the visual dynamics of your games. But remember, the end of one tutorial is just the beginning of another adventure. We at Zenva are committed to guiding you through the constant evolution of your development skills, ensuring that every step you take is one towards mastery and excellence.

Don’t stop here! Continue to build, innovate, and expand your horizons with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. With each new skill you acquire, and each project you complete, you will be shaping the future of your game development journey—one node, one line of code, one shader at a time. Let’s make those dream games a reality, together with Zenva.

FREE COURSES
Python Blog Image

FINAL DAYS: Unlock coding courses in Unity, Godot, Unreal, Python and more.