2D lights and shadows


By default, 2D scenes in Godot are unshaded, with no lights and shadows visible. While this is fast to render, unshaded scenes can look bland. Godot provides the ability to use real-time 2D lighting and shadows, which can greatly enhance the sense of depth in your project.

No 2D lights or shadows, scene is unshaded

No 2D lights or shadows, scene is unshaded

2D lights enabled (without shadows)

2D lights enabled (without shadows)

2D lights and shadows enabled

2D lights and shadows enabled


There are several nodes involved in a complete 2D lighting setup:

CanvasModulate is used to darken the scene by specifying a color that will act as the base "ambient" color. This is the final lighting color in areas that are not reached by any 2D light. Without a CanvasModulate node, the final scene would look too bright as 2D lights would only brighten the existing unshaded appearance (which appears fully lit).

Sprite2Ds are used to display the textures for the light blobs, the background, and for the shadow casters.

PointLight2Ds are used to light the scene. The way a light typically works is by adding a selected texture over the rest of the scene to simulate lighting.

LightOccluder2Ds are used to tell the shader which parts of the scene cast shadows. These occluders can be placed as independent nodes or can be part of a TileMap node.

The shadows appear only on areas covered by the PointLight2D and their direction is based on the center of the Light.


The background color does not receive any lighting. If you want light to be cast on the background, you need to add a visual representation for the background, such as a Sprite2D.

The Sprite2D's Region properties can be helpful to quickly create a repeating background texture, but remember to also set Texture > Repeat to Enabled in the Sprite2D's properties.

Point lights

Point lights (also called positional lights) are the most common element in 2D lighting. Point lights can be used to represent light from torches, fire, projectiles, etc.

PointLight2D offers the following properties to tweak in the inspector:

  • Texture: The texture to use as a light source. The texture's size determines the size of the light. The texture may have an alpha channel, which is useful when using Light2D's Mix blend mode, but it is not required if using the Add (default) or Subtract blend modes.

  • Offset: The offset for the light texture. Unlike when you move the light node, changing the offset does not cause shadows to move.

  • Texture Scale: The multiplier for the light's size. Higher values will make the light extend out further. Larger lights have a higher performance cost as they affect more pixels on screen, so consider this before increasing a light's size.

  • Height: The light's virtual height with regards to normal mapping. By default, the light is very close to surfaces receiving lights. This will make lighting hardly visible if normal mapping is used, so consider increasing this value. Adjusting the light's height only makes a visible difference on surfaces that use normal mapping.

If you don't have a pre-made texture to use in a light, you can use this "neutral" point light texture (right-click > Save Image As…):

Neutral point light texture

Neutral point light texture

If you need different falloff, you can procedurally create a texture by assigning a New GradientTexture2D on the light's Texture property. After creating the resource, expand its Fill section and set the fill mode to Radial. You will then have to adjust the gradient itself to start from opaque white to transparent white, and move its starting location to be in the center.

Directional light

New in Godot 4.0 is the ability to have directional lighting in 2D. Directional lighting is used to represent sunlight or moonlight. Light rays are casted parallel to each other, as if the sun or moon was infinitely far away from the surface that is receiving the light.

DirectionalLight2D offers the following properties:

  • Height: The light's virtual height with regards to normal mapping (0.0 = parallel to surfaces, 1.0 = perpendicular to surfaces). By default, the light is fully parallel with the surfaces receiving lights. This will make lighting hardly visible if normal mapping is used, so consider increasing this value. Adjusting the light's height only makes a visual difference on surfaces that use normal mapping. Height does not affect shadows' appearance.

  • Max Distance: The maximum distance from the camera center objects can be before their shadows are culled (in pixels). Decreasing this value can prevent objects located outside the camera from casting shadows (while also improving performance). Camera2D zoom is not taken into account by Max Distance, which means that at higher zoom values, shadows will appear to fade out sooner when zooming onto a given point.


Directional shadows will always appear to be infinitely long, regardless of the value of the Height property. This is a limitation of the shadow rendering method used for 2D lights in Godot.

To have directional shadows that are not infinitely long, you should disable shadows in the DirectionalLight2D and use a custom shader that reads from the 2D signed distance field instead. This distance field is automatically generated from LightOccluder2D nodes present in the scene.

Common light properties

Both PointLight2D and DirectionalLight2D offer common properties, which are part of the Light2D base class:

  • Enabled: Allows toggling the light's visibility. Unlike hiding the light node, disabling this property will not hide the light's children.

  • Editor Only: If enabled, the light is only visible within the editor. It will be automatically disabled in the running project.

  • Color: The light's color.

  • Energy: The light's intensity multiplier. Higher values result in a brighter light.

  • Blend Mode: The blending formula used for light computations. The default Add is suited for most use cases. Subtract can be used for negative lights, which are not physically accurate but can be used for special effects. The Mix blend mode mixes the value of pixels corresponding to the light's texture with the values of pixels under it by linear interpolation.

  • Range > Z Min: The lowest Z index affected by the light.

  • Range > Z Max: The highest Z index affected by the light.

  • Range > Layer Min: The lowest visual layer affected by the light.

  • Range > Layer Max: The highest visual layer affected by the light.

  • Range > Item Cull Mask: Controls which nodes receive light from this node, depending on the other nodes' enabled visual layers Occluder Light Mask. This can be used to prevent certain objects from receiving light.

Setting up shadows

After enabling the Shadow > Enabled property on a PointLight2D or DirectionalLight2D node, you will not see any visual difference initially. This is because no nodes in your scene have any occluders yet, which are used as a basis for shadow casting.

For shadows to appear in the scene, LightOccluder2D nodes must be added to the scene. These nodes must also have occluder polygons that are designed to match the sprite's outline.

Along with their polygon resource (which must be set to have any visual effect), LightOccluder2D nodes have 2 properties:

  • SDF Collision: If enabled, the occluder will be part of a real-time generated signed distance field that can be used in custom shaders. When not using custom shaders that read from this SDF, enabling this makes no visual difference and has no performance cost, so this is enabled by default for convenience.

  • Occluder Light Mask: This is used in tandem with PointLight2D and DirectionalLight2D's Shadow > Item Cull Mask property to control which objects cast shadows for each light. This can be used to prevent specific objects from casting shadows.

There are two ways to create light occluders:

Automatically generating a light occluder

Occluders can be created automatically from Sprite2D nodes by selecting the node, clicking the Sprite2D menu at the top of the 2D editor then choosing Create LightOccluder2D Sibling.

In the dialog that appears, an outline will surround your sprite's edges. If the outline matches the sprite's edges closely, you can click OK. If the outline is too far away from the sprite's edges (or is "eating" into the sprite's edges), adjust Grow (pixels) and Shrink (pixels), then click Update Preview. Repeat this operation until you get satisfactory results.

Manually drawing a light occluder

Create a LightOccluder2D node, then select the node and click the "+" button at the top of the 2D editor. When asked to create a polygon resource, answer Yes. You can then start drawing an occluder polygon by clicking to create new points. You can remove existing points by right-clicking them, and you can create new points from the existing line by clicking on the line then dragging.

The following properties can be adjusted on 2D lights that have shadows enabled:

  • Color: The color of shaded areas. By default, shaded areas are fully black, but this can be changed for artistic purposes. The color's alpha channel controls how much the shadow is tinted by the specified color.

  • Filter: The filter mode to use for shadows. The default None is the fastest to render, and is well suited for games with a pixel art aesthetic (due to its "blocky" visuals). If you want a soft shadow, use PCF5 instead. PCF13 is even softer, but is the most demanding to render. PCF13 should only be used for a few lights at once due to its high rendering cost.

  • Filter Smooth: Controls how much softening is applied to shadows when Filter is set to PCF5 or PCF13. Higher values result in a softer shadow, but may cause banding artifacts to be visible (especially with PCF5).

  • Item Cull Mask: Controls which LightOccluder2D nodes cast shadows, depending on their respective Occluder Light Mask properties.

Hard shadows

Hard shadows