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2D particle systems


Particle systems are used to simulate complex physical effects, such as sparks, fire, magic particles, smoke, mist, etc.

The idea is that a "particle" is emitted at a fixed interval and with a fixed lifetime. During its lifetime, every particle will have the same base behavior. What makes each particle different from the rest and provides a more organic look is the "randomness" associated with each parameter. In essence, creating a particle system means setting base physics parameters and then adding randomness to them.

Particle nodes

Godot provides two different nodes for 2D particles, GPUParticles2D and CPUParticles2D. GPUParticles2D is more advanced and uses the GPU to process particle effects. CPUParticles2D is a CPU-driven option with near-feature parity with GPUParticles2D, but lower performance when using large amounts of particles. On the other hand, CPUParticles2D may perform better on low-end systems or in GPU-bottlenecked situations.

While GPUParticles2D is configured via a ParticleProcessMaterial (and optionally with a custom shader), the matching options are provided via node properties in CPUParticles2D (with the exception of the trail settings).

You can convert a GPUParticles2D node into a CPUParticles2D node by clicking on the node in the inspector, and selecting Particles > Convert to CPUParticles2D in the toolbar at the top of the 3D editor viewport.


The rest of this tutorial is going to use the GPUParticles2D node. First, add a GPUParticles2D node to your scene. After creating that node you will notice that only a white dot was created, and that there is a warning icon next to your GPUParticles2D node in the scene dock. This is because the node needs a ParticleProcessMaterial to function.


To add a process material to your particles node, go to Process Material in your inspector panel. Click on the box next to Material, and from the dropdown menu select New ParticleProcessMaterial.


Your GPUParticles2D node should now be emitting white points downward.



A particle system can use a single texture or an animation flipbook. A flipbook is a texture that contains several frames of animation that can be played back, or chosen at random during emission. This is equivalent to a spritesheet for particles.

The texture is set via the Texture property:


Using an animation flipbook

Particle flipbooks are suited to reproduce complex effects such as smoke, fire, explosions. They can also be used to introduce random texture variation, by making every particle use a different texture. You can find existing particle flipbook images online, or pre-render them using external tools such as Blender or EmberGen.

Example of a particle system that uses a flipbook texture

Example of a particle system that uses a flipbook texture

Using an animation flipbook requires additional configuration compared to a single texture. For demonstration purposes, we'll use this texture with 5 columns and 7 rows (right-click and choose Save as…):

Particle flipbook texture example

Credit: JoesAlotofthings (CC BY 4.0)

To use an animation flipbook, you must create a new CanvasItemMaterial in the Material section of the GPUParticles2D (or CPUParticles2D) node:

Creating a CanvasItemMaterial at the bottom of the particles node inspector

Creating a CanvasItemMaterial at the bottom of the particles node inspector

In this CanvasItemMaterial, enable Particle Animation and set H Frames and V Frames to the number of columns and rows present in your flipbook texture:

Configuring the CanvasItemMaterial for the example flipbook texture

Configuring the CanvasItemMaterial for the example flipbook texture

Once this is done, the Animation section in ParticleProcessMaterial (for GPUParticles2D) or in the CPUParticles2D inspector will be effective.


If your flipbook texture has a black background instead of a transparent background, you will also need to set the blend mode to Add instead of Mix for correct display. Alternatively, you can modify the texture to have a transparent background in an image editor. In GIMP, this can be done using the Color > Color to Alpha menu.

Time parameters


The time in seconds that every particle will stay alive. When lifetime ends, a new particle is created to replace it.

Lifetime: 0.5


Lifetime: 4.0


One Shot

When enabled, a GPUParticles2D node will emit all of its particles once and then never again.


Particle systems begin with zero particles emitted, then start emitting. This can be an inconvenience when loading a scene and systems like a torch, mist, etc. begin emitting the moment you enter. Preprocess is used to let the system process a given number of seconds before it is actually drawn the first time.

Speed Scale

The speed scale has a default value of 1 and is used to adjust the speed of a particle system. Lowering the value will make the particles slower while increasing the value will make the particles much faster.


If lifetime is 1 and there are 10 particles, it means a particle will be emitted every 0.1 seconds. The explosiveness parameter changes this, and forces particles to be emitted all together. Ranges are:

  • 0: Emit particles at regular intervals (default value).

  • 1: Emit all particles simultaneously.

Values in the middle are also allowed. This feature is useful for creating explosions or sudden bursts of particles:



All physics parameters can be randomized. Random values range from 0 to 1. The formula to randomize a parameter is:

initial_value = param_value + param_value<