VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant in Godot – Complete Guide

Are you venturing into the expansive world of game development, or perhaps seeking to gain more proficiency in Godot 4’s powerful shader system? Understanding shader nodes is pivotal, and the VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant can be a significant asset in your shader programming toolbox. This article will delve into what this node is, its applications, and why incorporating it into your shaders can elevate your game’s visuals to the next level. Embark on this tutorial to not only grasp the fundamentals but to also gain practical insights through various examples that will illustrate the use of this constant in different scenarios.

What is VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant?

A VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant is a node specifically designed for Godot’s visual shader editor. It represents a constant Transform3D, a fundamental type in 3D math that encompasses information regarding position, rotation, and scale. This node can be utilized as a ready-to-go input in your visual shaders, providing a solid basis for transformations in a 3D space.

What is it for?

When creating shaders, particularly in 3D, you’ll frequently require constant transformation values for various effects. These could range from positioning lights and objects to creating more complex behaviors like skeletal animation or vertex displacement. The VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant provides a convenient and efficient way to embed these types of constants into your shaders.

Why should I learn it?

Learning to use VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant is essential for anyone looking to harness the full potential of Godot’s visual shader environment. It enables you to create more dynamic and complex visual effects with greater ease. Whether you are a beginner experimenting with simple game mechanics or an experienced coder integrating advanced features, mastering this node will significantly enhance the visual appeal and performance of your games.

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Creating a Basic Transform Constant

To start, let’s see how to create a basic VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant within Godot’s Visual Shader editor. This will serve as the foundational step for more complex applications.

// Example 1: Defining a basic transform constant in a visual shader
// This code would be represented visually in Godot's shader editor.

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
transform_constant.constant = Transform(1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0)

// This sets up a transform constant with a neutral matrix. 
// In practice, you'd connect the output of this node to other nodes in the shader graph.

With this Transform3D, you have set an identity matrix, where the scale is 1:1:1, and there is no rotation or translation. This is effectively a ‘do nothing’ transform, which is useful as a starting point or placeholder.

Applying Transform to Vertex Position

Next, we’ll apply the transformation to a vertex position. This can manipulate the geometry of a mesh at the shader level, which is very powerful for dynamic effects such as waving flags or animating water.

// Example 2: Applying transformation to a vertex position 

var transformConstant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var vertex = VisualShaderNodeVertex.new()
var transform = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()

// Setting up a transform constant 
transformConstant.set_constant(Transform(Basis(), Vector3(0, 5, 0)))

// Connecting nodes
transform.set_input_port_value(0, transformConstant)
transform.set_input_port_value(1, vertex)

// The output would connect to the VERTEX port on the shader

This snippet positions the vertices of the mesh by 5 units along the Y-axis. This is accomplished by multiplying the vertex positions by the transform constant we set up.

Rotating Objects with a Transform Constant

Rotation is another common use of transforms. Let’s look at how you can rotate an object around an axis using a transform constant.

// Example 3: Rotating an object around the Y-axis 

var transformConstant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var time = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()

var cos = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
cos.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_COS
cos.set_input_port_value(0, time)

var sin = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
sin.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
sin.set_input_port_value(0, time)

var rotation_matrix = Transform(Basis(Vector3(0, cos, sin), Vector3(0, 1, 0), Vector3(-sin, 0, cos)), Vector3())

transformConstant.set_constant(rotation_matrix)

// This transform would be connected to a vertex transformation or another applicable node.

In this code, we first set up cosine and sine functions of time to create a rotation over time. We then construct a rotation matrix around the Y-axis using these functions and set it as the constant for the Transform node.

Scaling an Object with Transform Constant

Finally, we can scale an object non-uniformly using different scaling factors for each axis. This can be particularly interesting for effects like simulating object growth or shrinkage over time.

// Example 4: Scaling an object non-uniformly

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var scale_factor_x = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
var scale_factor_y = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
var scale_factor_z = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()

scale_factor_x.constant = 2.0 // Scaling X by 2
scale_factor_y.constant = 1.0 // No scaling in Y
scale_factor_z.constant = 0.5 // Scaling Z by 0.5

var scale_matrix = Transform(Basis(Vector3(scale_factor_x, 0, 0), Vector3(0, scale_factor_y, 0), Vector3(0, 0, scale_factor_z)), Vector3())

transform_constant.set_constant(scale_matrix)

// Connect this transform constant node to affect the object's vertex positions.

This code snippet sets up a non-uniform scale, making the object twice as wide on the X-axis, the same height on the Y-axis, and half as deep on the Z-axis. Again, you would connect the output of this Transform constant to the vertices you wish to scale.

Through these examples, we’ve covered the basic yet vital applications of the VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant. Now let’s move on and explore some more complex scenarios where this node truly shines.

There’s so much more to VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant than just moving vertices around. For instance, lighting effects in a shader can be significantly enhanced by applying transformations to manipulate how light interacts with surfaces. Let’s take a look at some advanced applications and code snippets to inspire you to experiment with your own shaders.

First up, let’s simulate a simple reflection effect using a transform constant:

// Example 5: Reflecting a coordinate system for a simple reflection effect

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
transform_constant.set_constant(Transform(Basis(Vector3(-1, 0, 0), Vector3(0, 1, 0), Vector3(0, 0, 1)), Vector3()))

var vertex = VisualShaderNodeVertex.new()
var transform = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()

// Connecting nodes to reflect on the X-axis
transform.set_input_port_value(0, transform_constant)
transform.set_input_port_value(1, vertex)

// Connect the output to the VERTEX port.

This snippet reflects the coordinates in the object’s local space across the YZ plane, creating a mirror effect on the X-axis.

Next, let’s manipulate texture coordinates for an interesting distortion effect:

// Example 6: Distorting texture coordinates

var uv = VisualShaderNodeUV.new()
var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var transform_uv = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()

// Arbitrary transformation for distortion
transform_constant.set_constant(Transform(Basis(Vector3(0.8, 0.3, 0), Vector3(-0.3, 0.8, 0), Vector3(0, 0, 1)), Vector3()))

// Applying the transformation to UV coordinates
transform_uv.set_input_port_value(0, transform_constant)
transform_uv.set_input_port_value(1, uv)

// Use the output of transform_uv to manipulate texture sampling.

Applying such a transformation to UV coordinates can create swirling effects or appear as though the texture is being viewed through water.

For a dynamic environment reflection, you might use scene information updated every frame:

// Example 7: Dynamic environment reflection

// Assuming you have a way to capture and pass the scene's reflection transform
var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
transform_constant.set_constant(get_scene_reflection_transform())

// This constant could be used in conjunction with reflection textures
// to create dynamic environment mappings on a shader material.

Capturing and using environmental information for reflections can greatly enhance the realism of your material surfaces, as they will interact with the surroundings.

Also, you may want to apply noise to vertex positions for effects such as wind on foliage or a wobbly effect:

// Example 8: Applying noise to vertex positions for a wind effect

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var vertex = VisualShaderNodeVertex.new()
var noise = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new() // Assuming you have a noise texture set up
var time = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()

// Configure your noise texture to animate over time
var transform_time = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()
transform_time.set_input_port_value(0, transform_constant) // Some noise-related transform
transform_time.set_input_port_value(1, time)

var noise_transform = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()
noise_transform.set_input_port_value(0, noise)
noise_transform.set_input_port_value(1, transform_time)

var transform_vertex = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()
transform_vertex.set_input_port_value(0, noise_transform)
transform_vertex.set_input_port_value(1, vertex)

// Connect transform_vertex to the VERTEX port.

The noise texture moves over time and affects vertex positions, simulating movement or disturbance.

Finally, let’s look at how to create a pulsating scaling effect that animates over time:

// Example 9: Pulsating scaling effect over time

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var time = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
var sinus = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()

sinus.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
sinus.set_input_port_value(0, time) // Animating the scale over time

var scale_value = VisualShaderNodeScalarInterp.new()
scale_value.set_input_port_value(0, sinus) // The sine function result
scale_value.set_input_port_value(1, 0.5) // Minimum scale factor
scale_value.set_input_port_value(2, 1.5) // Maximum scale factor

var scale_basis = Transform(Basis(Vector3(scale_value, 0, 0), Vector3(0, scale_value, 0), Vector3(0, 0, scale_value)), Vector3())
transform_constant.set_constant(scale_basis)

// Attach to vertex positions to see the pulsating effect on your mesh.

The scale factor interpolates between 0.5 and 1.5 using the sine of time, thus creating a pulsating scale transformation. By connecting this to the mesh’s vertex positions, you achieve an effect as if the mesh is breathing.

With these examples and explanations, it’s clear that the VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant is a versatile and powerful tool in Godot’s arsenal. By leveraging its capabilities, you can add dynamism and depth to your games, making them stand out with visually striking effects.

Building on the previous examples, we’ll now explore additional ways to integrate VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant into various shader techniques. The following snippets illustrate the node’s flexibility, demonstrating how it can drive a myriad of visual outcomes.

Consider the effect of local deformation to give objects an “alive” sensation, or to simulate natural phenomena:

// Example 10: Local deformation for an 'alive' sensation

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var vertex_position = VisualShaderNodeVertex.new()
var noise_texture = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new() // A setup noise texture node
var transform_vertex = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()

var local_translation = VisualShaderNodeVec3Uniform.new()
local_translation.set_default_value(Vector3(0, 0.5, 0)) // Moving in Y-axis based on noise

transform_constant.set_constant(Transform(Basis(), local_translation.output))

// Apply noise-based local translation to the vertices
transform_vertex.set_input_port_value(0, transform_constant)
transform_vertex.set_input_port_value(1, noise_texture)

// Multiply the effect by the vertex position
var final_transform = VisualShaderNodeVec3Add.new()
final_transform.set_input_port_value(0, vertex_position)
final_transform.set_input_port_value(1, transform_vertex)

// Connect to the VERTEX port.

In this snippet, we achieve a subtle undulating effect across the surface of a model, making it appear as if breathing or affected by a gentle underwater current.

Reflection is another technique where transformation constants can be essential. You can use it to calculate the reflected vector based on a surface normal:

// Example 11: Calculating reflected vector for reflection or highlighting

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var vector_to_reflect = VisualShaderNodeVec3Uniform.new() // Likely based on your camera or light direction
var normal = VisualShaderNodeNormal.new()

var reflect_vector = VisualShaderNodeVec3Reflect.new()
reflect_vector.set_input_port_value(0, vector_to_reflect)
reflect_vector.set_input_port_value(1, normal)

// This vector could be used for light calculations or to implement environment reflections.

The Vec3Reflect node uses the constant vector, such as the direction to a light source or camera, and reflects it off the normal, giving the shader information about how light or images might bounce off the surface.

Here’s another example, where we can animate texture offsets to create an illusion of motion. This can be great for background elements or screen effects:

// Example 12: Animating texture offset for motion illusion

var offset = VisualShaderNodeTime.new() // Use time to animate
var speed = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
speed.constant = 0.5 // Speed of animation

var multiply = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.new()
multiply.operator = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.OP_MUL
multiply.set_input_port_value(0, offset)
multiply.set_input_port_value(1, speed)

var transform_constant = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
var scale_basis = Transform(Basis(), Vector3(multiply, 0, 0)) // Only offsetting on X-axis
transform_constant.set_constant(scale_basis)

// Now this transform can be linked to texture UVs to skew them over time, creating motion.

By animating an offset along the X-axis using time and speed, we can create a continuous lateral movement effect on a texture, ideal for backgrounds scrolling in a 2D game or directional motion in a material’s detail.

Another powerful application is vertex skinning. While the specifics of vertex skinning are quite complex, at a high level, transformation constants can be used to animate character joints:

// Example 13: Skeleton joint animation with transform constants

// This would be part of a more complex shader involving multiple transformation constants
// representing the joint matrices of a skeleton, updated each frame according to animation.

var joint_transform = VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant.new()
// joint_matrix could be retrieved dynamically from the skeleton's animation data
joint_transform.set_constant(joint_matrix)

// Assuming `weight` is the influence of the joint on the current vertex.
var weight = VisualShaderNodeScalarUniform.new()
var transform = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()

// Apply weighted joint transformation to the vertex position
transform.set_input_port_value(0, joint_transform)
transform.set_input_port_value(1, vertex_position)
var weighted_transform = VisualShaderNodeScalarInterp.new()
weighted_transform.set_input_port_value(0, transform)
weighted_transform.set_input_port_value(1, weight)

// Combine with other joints' contributions for the final vertex position.

However, this simplified example shows how a joint transformation matrix can be applied to vertices. Combining multiple joints allows for realistic skeletal animation.

Finally, let’s add some environmental interaction by simulating a force field that pushes vertices away:

// Example 14: Force field effect pushing vertices away

var distance_threshold = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
distance_threshold.constant = 5.0 // Distance at which the force starts affecting vertices

var force_center = VisualShaderNodeVec3Uniform.new() // The center of the force field
var vertex_position = VisualShaderNodeVertex.new()
var distance_to_force_center = VisualShaderNodeVec3Distance.new()
distance_to_force_center.set_input_port_value(0, vertex_position)
distance_to_force_center.set_input_port_value(1, force_center)

var force_strength = VisualShaderNodeScalarSmoothStep.new()
force_strength.set_input_port_value(0, distance_threshold)
force_strength.set_input_port_value(2, distance_to_force_center)

var force_direction = VisualShaderNodeVec3Subtract.new()
force_direction.set_input_port_value(0, vertex_position)
force_direction.set_input_port_value(1, force_center)

var apply_force = VisualShaderNodeVec3Scale.new()
apply_force.set_input_port_value(0, force_direction)
apply_force.set_input_port_value(1, force_strength)

// The resulting apply_force vector can then be applied to the vertex position to move it.

Here we essentially move vertices away from a point in space if they fall within a certain distance, creating a visual effect of a force field.

These advanced examples showcase the versatility of VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant. From creating vivid textures to animating complex character rigs, mastering this node in Godot 4 can significantly enhance your shaders and overall game presentation, allowing you to push the boundaries of creativity.

Continuing Your Godot Journey

Embarking on the path of game development with Godot is an adventure filled with endless possibilities, and this tutorial is just the beginning. To dive deeper and continue honing your skills, consider enrolling in our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. With a comprehensive curriculum covering everything from 2D to 3D game creation using Godot 4, our mini-degree is tailored to nurture both newcomers and seasoned developers on this journey.

You’ll have the flexibility to learn at your own pace with step-by-step directions, enabling you to build a solid understanding of game development principles and Godot’s robust features. And for those who wish to explore a broader range of topics, our collection of Godot courses provides a wealth of knowledge across various aspects of the engine.

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Conclusion

In the realm of game development, mastery of tools and techniques is pivotal for transforming creative visions into playable realities. Through this guided expedition into the utilities of the VisualShaderNodeTransformConstant in Godot 4, we’ve unveiled its potential to animate, distort, and invigorate your game’s visuals. The examples provided are mere brushstrokes in the grand canvas of possibilities that Godot offers, and with practice, your proficiency will soar, unlocking new dimensions of graphical storytelling.

Embark on the full journey with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree to build your skills systematically and create awe-inspiring games that resonate. Each lesson is a building block to your success, and we at Zenva are excited to be part of your development odyssey. Happy coding, and here’s to the fantastic games you will create!

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