VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose in Godot – Complete Guide

Visual shaders in game development are a fascinating leap beyond traditional shaders. They allow developers to create complex visual effects in a more visual and often intuitive way. And one of the essential techniques in using visual shaders is being able to break down and understand Transform matrices. This is where the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose class in Godot 4 comes into play. With this tutorial, we’ll dive into the world of visual shaders, and specifically, we’ll explore how to decompose a Transform3D into its component vectors through practical examples.

What is VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose?

The VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose class is an integral part of the Godot Engine, particularly within the context of its visual shader graph system. It is designed to break down a Transform3D data type – commonly used to denote position, rotation, and scale in 3D space – into four separate Vector3 components. Each vector corresponds to one row of the transform matrix, providing the essential data that can be manipulated individually in a shader.

What is it used for?

A Transform3D is like a toolbox for your 3D objects, housing everything needed to place and orient objects in 3D space. However, sometimes you need to work with these individual tools – the position, rotation, and scale vectors – separately. This is exactly what the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose allows us to do. Whether it’s for creating dynamic lighting effects, animating objects, or simulating physics, decomposing these vectors gives you the detailed control necessary for sophisticated visual development.

Why Should I Learn It?

Understanding and utilizing the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose node is essential for any game developer looking to leverage Godot’s shader system to its full potential. Shaders can bring your game visuals to life, and mastering this node:

– Enables more intricate and customizable shader effects.
– Empowers you to develop dynamic and interactive game environments.
– Paves the way for a deeper understanding of how 3D transformations affect visual output.

By learning this node, you’ll be equipping yourself with a versatile tool that can enhance visuals and gameplay mechanics alike.

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Creating the VisualShader and Decomposing the Transform

To start using VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose, you’ll first need to create a VisualShader resource in your project and add it to a ShaderMaterial. Here’s how you can do it step by step:

// Assuming you have a MeshInstance with a Mesh and want to add a shader to it
var material = ShaderMaterial.new()
var visual_shader = VisualShader.new()

// Add the VisualShader to the ShaderMaterial
material.shader = visual_shader

// Now assign the ShaderMaterial to the MeshInstance
$MeshInstance.material_override = material

Once your VisualShader is created, it’s time to add the node to decompose a Transform3D.

// Create the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose node
var transform_decompose = VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose.new()

// Add the node to our VisualShader
visual_shader.add_node(transform_decompose)

Accessing Position, Rotation, and Scale

With the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose node in place, you can now extract the individual components. Every decomposed component corresponds to a specific output port on the node:

// A Transform3D matrix example to decompose
var transform_matrix = Transform3D.IDENTITY

// Let's assume 'transform_decompose' is at position (x: 0, y: 0) in our shader graph

// Connecting the Transform3D matrix to the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose
visual_shader.node_connect(Vector2(0, 1), transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0))

// Accessing the Position output, which is output port 0
var position_output = transform_decompose.get_output_port_default_value(0)

// Accessing the Rotation output, which is output port 1
var rotation_output = transform_decompose.get_output_port_default_value(1)

// Accessing the Scale output, which is output port 2
var scale_output = transform_decompose.get_output_port_default_value(2)

Remember that in a visual shader, you generally work within the editor’s graph interface to connect these ports visually, rather than through code.

Implementing into Shader Effects

Now that we have our decomposed vectors, we can use them within shader effects. Let’s start by manipulating the Position vector for a simple vertex displacement:

// Assume 'position_output' is the decomposed Position vector
var vertex_displacement = VisualShaderNodeVec3Constant.new()

// Set a displacement value
vertex_displacement.constant = Vector3(0.0, 1.0, 0.0)

// Add Vertex Displacement node to the VisualShader
visual_shader.add_node(vertex_displacement)

// Connect the displacement value to the Position vector provided by our decompose node
visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_displacement, Vector2(0, 0), transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0))

Similarly, you can take the Scale output and alter it to affect the overall size of your object’s texture coordinates.

// Assume 'scale_output' is the decomposed Scale vector
var texture_scale = VisualShaderNodeVec3Uniform.new()
visual_shader.add_node(texture_scale)

// Connect the scale value to a uniform that can be modified in the editor while playing
visual_shader.node_connect(scale_output, Vector2(0, 0), texture_scale, Vector2(0, 0))

These code snippets are simplifications to illustrate how you might script shader connections in GDScript. However, when working with visual shaders, you will typically be making these connections within Godot’s visual shader editor, offering a more hands-on and visual approach to shader programming. It’s crucial to frequently experiment in the shader graph to see the effects of these decomposed vectors in action and to understand how each alteration affects the final visuals of your objects.Now let’s dive into more specific applications of using the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose. The examples provided will give you a taste of the possibilities when manipulating the Position, Rotation, and Scale separately in visual shaders.

Animating Object Position

Once you have the Position vector, you could modulate it over time to animate the object. Let’s make an object bob up and down using a sinusoidal wave.

// Create a time node to get the shader's internal time
var time_node = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
visual_shader.add_node(time_node)

// Create a sine function node
var sine_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
sine_node.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
visual_shader.add_node(sine_node)

// Connect the time node to the sine function to animate over time
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, Vector2(0, 0), sine_node, Vector2(0, 0))

// Take the result of the sine function to manipulate the Position output
// Assuming you already have a connection from the TransformDecompose to the Position vector
var output_vec = VisualShaderNodeVec3.new()
visual_shader.add_node(output_vec)

// Set the Y component to the sine wave, leaving X and Z as they are
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0), output_vec, Vector2(0, 0)) // X
visual_shader.node_connect(sine_node, Vector2(0, 0), output_vec, Vector2(1, 0)) // Y
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0), output_vec, Vector2(2, 0)) // Z

// Connect to the Vertex port to animate the Position of vertices
visual_shader.node_connect(output_vec, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, VisualShaderNodeVertex.GROUP_BUILTIN))

Scaling an Object Dynamically

You can also use the decomposed Scale vector for procedural scaling effects. This might be based on a game event, such as an explosion or pulse.

// Define a pulse effect as a scalar uniform
var pulse_effect = VisualShaderNodeScalarUniform.new()
visual_shader.add_node(pulse_effect)

// Multiply scale by this value to create the effect
var multiply_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
multiply_node.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.add_node(multiply_node)

// Connect the Scale output and pulse effect to the multiply operation
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(2, 0), multiply_node, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(pulse_effect, Vector2(0, 0), multiply_node, Vector2(1, 0))

// Now, connect the result back into a Scale port, or use it in another part of your shader
visual_shader.node_connect(multiply_node, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, VisualShaderNodeVertex.GROUP_BUILTIN))

Rotating an Object’s Texture

With the Rotation vector, you can affect how textures wrap around the model. Below is an example of rotating an object’s texture coordinates.

// First, we need a TextureCoordinate node to get the UVs
var tex_coord = VisualShaderNodeTexCoord.new()
visual_shader.add_node(tex_coord)

// Now, let's apply a rotation to the UV coordinates
var rotate_uv = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()
visual_shader.add_node(rotate_uv)

// Assuming you've constructed or have a Transform3D that represents your rotation
// Here we're just creating a rotation transform for demonstration purposes
var rotation_transform = Transform3D.IDENTITY
rotation_transform.basis = Basis(Vector3.UP, Mathf.Pi / 4) // 45-degree rotation around UP axis

// Assign this rotation to the RotateUV node
rotate_uv.transform = rotation_transform

// Connect the UVs to the RotateUV node
visual_shader.node_connect(tex_coord, Vector2(0, 0), rotate_uv, Vector2(0, 0))

// Finally, connect the RotateUV output to a texture lookup, and then to the Fragment shader's COLOR output
var texture_sample = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()
visual_shader.add_node(texture_sample)
visual_shader.node_connect(rotate_uv, Vector2(0, 0), texture_sample, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(texture_sample, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, VisualShaderNodeTexture.SOURCE_COLOR))

Creating a Real-Time Shadow Effect

Using the decomposed Position vector, we can simulate the effect of a shadow moving across the object based on a light source.

// Let's get the light position as a uniform
var light_pos_uniform = VisualShaderNodeVec3Uniform.new()
visual_shader.add_node(light_pos_uniform)

// Calculate the vector from the vertex to the light
var light_dir = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
light_dir.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_SUB
visual_shader.add_node(light_dir)

// Connect the Position output and light position to the light direction operation
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0), light_dir, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(light_pos_uniform, Vector2(0, 0), light_dir, Vector2(1, 0))

// Utilize this vector to calculate the shadow effect in the fragment shader, such as by darkening the color
var shadow_effect = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
shadow_effect.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_CLAMP
visual_shader.add_node(shadow_effect)
// Connect light_dir output's length to the shadow effect node, let's say you've calculated the length with another node
visual_shader.node_connect(length_node, Vector2(0, 0), shadow_effect, Vector2(0, 0))

// Impact color based on shadow effect
var color_effect = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
color_effect.operator = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.add_node(color_effect)
visual_shader.node_connect(fragment_color, Vector2(0, 0), color_effect, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(shadow_effect, Vector2(0, 0), color_effect, Vector2(1, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(color_effect, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, VisualShaderNodeTexture.SOURCE_COLOR))

Each of these examples illustrates how breaking down a Transform3D into its component vectors can be incredibly useful in a wide range of applications. Whether it’s for simple animations, dynamic scaling, complex texturing, or real-time effects, the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose is a powerful tool in the Godot shader arsenal.

Familiarizing yourself with these techniques will not only enhance your skills in shader programming but also empower you to create impressive, interactive visuals in your game projects. Remember, practice and experimentation are key to mastering visual shaders, and Godot’s visual shader editor provides an excellent platform for both.Let’s expand upon the concepts discussed earlier with a variety of practical shader programming examples within the Godot 4 environment.

Manipulating Vertex Colors

Vertex colors can be altered using the positional data from the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose node. You could, for example, change the color of vertices based on their height (Y position).

// First, we'll need the decomposed Position vector's Y component
// You can connect this to a color ramp node or implement a color blending logic
// Here's a simple example of changing color based on height:

// Let's create nodes for color blending based on the Y position
var color_ramp_node = VisualShaderNodeColorRamp.new()
var scalar_interpolate_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarInterp.new()

// Add those nodes to the shader
visual_shader.add_node(color_ramp_node)
visual_shader.add_node(scalar_interpolate_node)

visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0), scalar_interpolate_node, Vector2(0, 0))  // Output Y to scalar interpolation
visual_shader.node_connect(scalar_interpolate_node, Vector2(0, 0), color_ramp_node, Vector2(0, 0))  // Scalar interpolation to color ramp

// Now connect the output of the color ramp to the COLOR output of the fragment shader
visual_shader.node_connect(color_ramp_node, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, VisualShaderNodeVertex.COLOR))

Reflecting Environment

Using the Rotation vector, it’s possible to reflect the environment in real-time on the surface of an object. This can be done by creating reflection vectors based on the object’s orientation.

// Reflecting environment requires world space position and a normal map
var world_pos_node = VisualShaderNodeGlobalExpression.new()
var normal_map_node = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()

// Define an expression to get World Position
world_pos_node.expression = "VERTEX"
visual_shader.add_node(world_pos_node)
visual_shader.add_node(normal_map_node)

// Compute reflection vector (this is a simplified version)
var reflection_vector = VisualShaderNodeReflect.new()
visual_shader.add_node(reflection_vector)

// Assuming you've set up a normal map in the normal_map_node

// Connect World Position and Normal Map to the reflection vector node
visual_shader.node_connect(world_pos_node, Vector2(0, 0), reflection_vector, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(normal_map_node, Vector2(0, 0), reflection_vector, Vector2(1, 0))

// The output can then be used to create environmental reflections on the surface
// For example, to sample an Environment texture

var env_texture = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()
visual_shader.add_node(env_texture)

// Connect reflection vector to environment texture sampling
visual_shader.node_connect(reflection_vector, Vector2(0, 0), env_texture, Vector2(0, 0))

// Finally, you may combine this with base color or use it on its own
// For example, use it for a Fragment shader's COLOR output
visual_shader.node_connect(env_texture, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, VisualShaderNodeTexture.SOURCE_COLOR))

Applying a Wave Effect

You can apply a dynamic wave effect to your object using the Y component of the decomposed Position vector, creating an effect where vertices move in a sine wave pattern along one axis.

// Create a sine wave node to apply the effect over time
var sine_wave_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
sine_wave_node.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
visual_shader.add_node(sine_wave_node)

// Connect a Time node to the sine wave node
var time_node = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
visual_shader.add_node(time_node)
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, Vector2(0, 0), sine_wave_node, Vector2(0, 0))

// Create a vector multiplication node to apply the effect only on the Y-axis
var vec_mult_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorScalarMult.new()
visual_shader.add_node(vec_mult_node)

// Use the Position Y for multiplication with the sine wave
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 1), vec_mult_node, Vector2(0, 0))  // Position's Y
visual_shader.node_connect(sine_wave_node, Vector2(0, 0), vec_mult_node, Vector2(0, 1))  // Sine Wave

// The result is then connected to the shader's Vertex output port
visual_shader.node_connect(vec_mult_node, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, VisualShaderNodeVertex.POSITION))

Adjusting Opacity Based on Object Height

By using the decomposed Position vector, specifically its Y component, you can adjust the opacity of the object based on its height, creating an effect where the higher the object, the more transparent it becomes.

// Create a node that outputs the Y position as a scalar
var position_y = VisualShaderNodeComponent.new()
position_y.component = VisualShaderNodeComponent.COMPONENT_Y
visual_shader.add_node(position_y)
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_decompose, Vector2(0, 0), position_y, Vector2(0, 0))

// Connect this Y to an interpolation node that decides the alpha value
var interpolate_alpha = VisualShaderNodeScalarInterp.new()
visual_shader.add_node(interpolate_alpha)
visual_shader.node_connect(position_y, Vector2(0, 0), interpolate_alpha, Vector2(0, 0))

// Now we can connect this interpolation output to the ALPHA output of our Fragment shader.
// Be sure the material is set to use transparency.
visual_shader.node_connect(interpolate_alpha, Vector2(0, 0), visual_shader, Vector2(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, VisualShaderNodeFragment.ALPHA))

These examples further illustrate the power and flexibility of using the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose class in Godot 4. Whether you’re creating complex visual effects, adjusting geometrical properties on-the-fly, or controlling material output based on transformation data, these techniques can form a crucial component of your shader development skill set.

Feel free to experiment with these snippets and adapt them to your unique project needs. With hands-on practice, you can turn these foundational concepts into standout features for your game or application built with Godot 4. Remember, at Zenva, we believe one of the best ways to learn is by doing, so we encourage you to try these examples in your own Godot projects!

Accelerating Your Godot 4 Journey

Now that you’ve dipped your toes into the world of Transform decomposition and shader programming in Godot 4, it’s time to think about what’s next on your learning path. At Zenva, we understand the intricacies of continuing your education, and we are dedicated to supporting your growth every step of the way. To take your skills to the next level, we highly recommend our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This comprehensive collection of courses is tailored for both beginners and seasoned developers who are eager to expand their game creation prowess.

You’ll have the opportunity to explore a vast array of topics within the Godot 4 engine, from mastering 2D and 3D assets to scripting with GDScript, and from understanding gameplay control flow to creating robust UI systems. Our mini-degree is designed to be flexible, allowing you to learn at your own pace and choose courses that align with your interests and career goals. By completing these courses, you’ll not only gain valuable knowledge but also build a professional portfolio that showcases your skills in various game genres, such as RPG, RTS, platformers, and more.

Additionally, for a broader spectrum of resources, dive into our full collection of Godot courses. Whether you want to solidify your foundation or tackle new challenges, Zenva’s curated content will guide you through every stage of your development journey. Keep learning, keep creating, and let Zenva help you transform your passion for game development into a tangible and rewarding career.

Conclusion

Embarking on the path to mastering Godot 4 with the finesse of shader programming is an adventure that promises to unlock a universe of creative potential. As you’ve seen throughout this tutorial, understanding the VisualShaderNodeTransformDecompose is just the beginning. The intersection of technical skill and imagination is where the most captivating game experiences are born.

At Zenva, we are committed to fueling your passion for learning and helping you build the games of your dreams. Advance your journey with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, and continue to explore, innovate, and define the future of gaming. From your first line of code to the last finishing touches on your game, count on Zenva to be by your side. Let’s bring those game ideas to life, together.

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