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This page is up to date for Godot 4.1. If you still find outdated information, please open an issue.

Introduction to 3D

Creating a 3D game can be challenging. That extra Z coordinate makes many of the common techniques that helped to make 2D games simpler no longer work. To aid in this transition, it is worth mentioning that Godot uses similar APIs for 2D and 3D. Most nodes are the same and are present in both 2D and 3D versions. In fact, it is worth checking the 3D platformer tutorial, or the 3D kinematic character tutorials, which are almost identical to their 2D counterparts.

In 3D, math is a little more complex than in 2D, so also checking the Vector math entry in the wiki (which was especially created for game developers, not mathematicians or engineers) will help pave the way for you to develop 3D games efficiently.

Node3D node

Node2D is the base node for 2D. Control is the base node for everything GUI. Following this reasoning, the 3D engine uses the Node3D node for everything 3D.

Note

Be aware that "Spatial" Nodes are now called "Node3D" starting with Godot 4. Any Godot 3.x references to "Spatial" Nodes refer to "Node3D" in Godot 4.

../../_images/tuto_3d1.png

Node3Ds have a local transform, which is relative to the parent node (as long as the parent node is also of or inherits from the type Node3D). This transform can be accessed as a 4×3 Transform3D, or as 3 Vector3 members representing location, Euler rotation (X, Y and Z angles) and scale.

../../_images/tuto_3d2.png

3D content

Unlike 2D, where loading image content and drawing is straightforward, 3D is a little more difficult. The content needs to be created with special 3D tools (also called Digital Content Creation tools, or DCCs) and exported to an exchange file format to be imported in Godot. This is required since 3D formats are not as standardized as images.

Manually authored models (using 3D modeling software)

There are two pipelines to import 3D models in Godot. The first and most common one is by Importing 3D scenes, which allows you to import entire scenes (exactly as they look in the 3D modeling software), including animation, skeletal rigs, blend shapes, etc.

The second pipeline is by importing simple .OBJ files as mesh resources, which can be then put inside a MeshInstance3D node for display.

Generated geometry

It is possible to create custom geometry by using the ArrayMesh resource directly. Simply create your arrays and use the ArrayMesh.add_surface_from_arrays() function. A helper class is also available, SurfaceTool, which provides a more straightforward API and helpers for indexing, generating normals, tangents, etc.

In any case, this method is meant for generating static geometry (models that will not be updated often), as creating vertex arrays and submitting them to the 3D API has a significant performance cost.

Immediate geometry

If, instead, you need to generate simple geometry that will be updated often, Godot provides a special node, ImmediateMesh, which provides an OpenGL 1.x style immediate-mode API to create points, lines, triangles, etc.

2D in 3D

While Godot packs a powerful 2D engine, many types of games use 2D in a 3D environment. By using a fixed camera (either orthogonal or perspective) that does not rotate, nodes such as Sprite3D and AnimatedSprite3D can be used to create 2D games that take advantage of mixing with 3D backgrounds, more realistic parallax, lighting/shadow effects, etc.

The disadvantage is, of course, that added complexity and reduced performance in comparison to plain 2D, as well as the lack of reference of working in pixels.

Environment

Besides editing a scene, it is often common to edit the environment. Godot provides a WorldEnvironment node that allows changing the background color, mode (as in, put a skybox), and applying several types of built-in post-processing effects. Environments can also be overridden in the Camera.

3D viewport

Editing 3D scenes is done in the 3D tab. This tab can be selected manually, but it will be automatically enabled when a Node3D node is selected.

../../_images/tuto_3d3.png

Default 3D scene navigation controls are similar to Blender (aiming to have some sort of consistency in the free software pipeline..), but options are included to customize mouse buttons and behavior to be similar to other tools in the Editor Settings:

../../_images/tuto_3d4.png

Coordinate system

Godot uses the metric system for everything in 3D, with 1 unit