Environment and post-processing

Godot 4 provides a redesigned Environment resource, as well as a new post-processing system with many available effects right out of the box.


As of Godot 4, Environment performance/quality settings are defined in the project settings instead of in the Environment resource. This makes global adjustments easier, as you no longer have to tweak Environment resources individually to suit various hardware configurations.

Note that most Environment performance/quality settings are only visible after enabling the Advanced toggle in the Project Settings.


The Environment resource stores all the information required for controlling the 2D and 3D rendering environment. This includes the sky, ambient lighting, tone mapping, effects, and adjustments. By itself, it does nothing, but you can enable it by using it in one of the following locations, in order of priority:

Camera3D node (high priority)

An Environment can be set to a Camera3D node. It will have priority over any other setting.


This is mostly useful when you want to override an existing environment, but in general it's a better idea to use the option below.

Preview environment and sun (low priority)


Since Godot 4, the preview environment and sun system replace the default_env.tres file that was used in Godot 3 projects.

If no WorldEnvironment node or DirectionalLight3D node is present in the current scene, the editor will display a preview environment and sun instead. This can be disabled using the buttons at the top of the 3D editor:


Clicking on the 3 vertical dots on the right will display a dialog which allows you to customize the appearance of the preview environment:


The preview sun and sky is only visible in the editor, not in the running project. Using the buttons at the bottom of the dialog, you can add the preview sun and sky into the scene as nodes.


If you hold Shift while clicking Add Sun to Scene or Add Environment to Scene in the preview environment editor, this will add both a preview sun and environment to the current scene (as if you clicked both buttons separately). Use this to speed up project setup and prototyping.

Camera attributes


In Godot 4, exposure and depth of field information was split from the Environment resource into a separate CameraAttributes resource. This allows adjusting those properties independently of other Environment settings more easily.

The CameraAttributes resource stores exposure and depth of field information. It also allows enabling automatic exposure adjustments depending on scene brightness.

There are two kinds of CameraAttribute resources available:

  • CameraAttributesPractical: Features are exposed using arbitrary units, which are easier to reason about for most game use cases.

  • CameraAttributesPhysical: Features are exposed using real world units, similar to a digital camera. For example, field of view is set using a focal length in millimeters instead of a value in degrees. Recommended when physical accuracy is important, such as for photorealistic rendering.

Both CameraAttribute resource types allow you to use the same features, but they are configured differently. If you don't know which one to choose, use CameraAttributesPractical.


Using a CameraAttributesPhysical on a Camera3D node will lock out FOV and aspect adjustments in that Camera3D, as field of view is adjusted in the CameraAttributesPhysical resource instead. If used in a WorldEnvironment, the CameraAttributesPhysical will not override any Camera3D in the scene.

A CameraAttributes resource can be added to a Camera3D or a WorldEnvironment node. When the current camera has a CameraAttributes set, it will override the one set in WorldEnvironment (if any).

In most situations, setting the CameraAttributes resource on the Camera3D node instead of the WorldEnvironment is recommended. Unlike WorldEnvironment, assigning the CameraAttributes resource to the Camera3D node prevents depth of field from displaying in the 3D editor viewport, unless the camera is being previewed.

Environment options

The following is a detailed description of all environment options and how they are intended to be used.


The Background section contains settings on how to fill the background (parts of the screen where objects were not drawn). The background not only serves the purpose of displaying an image or color. By default, it also affects how objects are affected by ambient and reflected light. This is called image-based lighting (IBL).

As a result, the background sky may greatly impact your scene's overall appearance, even if the sky is never directly visible on screen. This should be taken into account when tweaking lighting in your scene.


There are several background modes available:

  • Clear Color uses the default clear color defined in the project settings. The background will be a constant color.

  • Custom Color is like Clear Color, but with a custom color value.

  • Sky lets you define a background sky material (see below). By default, objects in the scene will reflect this sky material and absorb ambient light from it.

  • Canvas displays the 2D scene as a background to the 3D scene.

  • Keep does not draw any sky, keeping what was present on previous frames instead. This improves performance in purely indoor scenes, but creates a "hall of mirrors" visual glitch if the sky is visible at any time.

Sky materials

When using the Sky background mode (or the ambient/reflected light mode is set to Sky), a Sky subresource becomes available to edit in the Environment resource. Editing this subresource allows you to create a SkyMaterial resource within the Sky.

There are 3 built-in sky materials to choose from:

  • PanoramaSkyMaterial: Use a 360 degree panorama sky image (2:1 aspect ratio recommended). To benefit from high dynamic range, the panorama image must be in an HDR-compatible format such as .hdr or .exr rather than a standard dynamic range format like .png or .jpg.

  • ProceduralSkyMaterial: Use a procedurally generated sky with adjustable ground, sun, sky and horizon colors. This is the type of sky used in the editor preview. The sun's position is automatically derived from the first 4 DirectionalLight3D nodes present in the scene. There can be up to 4 suns at a given time.

  • PhysicalSkyMaterial: Use a physically-based procedural sky with adjustable scattering parameters. The sun's position is automatically derived from the first DirectionalLight3D node present in the scene. PhysicalSkyMaterial is slightly more expensive to render compared to ProceduralSkyMaterial. There can be up to 1 sun at a given time.

Panorama sky images are sometimes called HDRIs (High Dynamic Range Images). You can find freely licensed HDRIs on Poly Haven.


HDR PanoramaSkyMaterial textures with very bright spots (such as real life photos with the sun visible) may result in visible sparkles on ambient and specular reflections. This is caused by the texture's peak exposure being too high.

To resolve this, select the panorama texture in the FileSystem dock, go to the Import dock, enable HDR Clamp Exposure then click Reimport.

If you need a custom sky material (e.g. for procedural clouds), you can create a custom sky shader.

Ambient light

Ambient light (as defined here) is a type of light that affects every piece of geometry with the same intensity. It is global and independent of lights that might be added to the scene. Ambient light is one of the two components of image-based lighting. Unlike reflected light, ambient light does not vary depending on the camera's position and viewing angle.

There are several types of ambient light to choose from:

  • Background: Source ambient light from the background, such as the sky, custom color or clear color (default). Ambient light intensity will vary depending on the sky image's contents, which can result in more visually appealing ambient lighting. A sky must be set as background for this mode to be visible.

  • Disabled: Do not use any ambient light. Useful for purely indoor scenes.

  • Color: Use a constant color for ambient light, ignoring the background sky. Ambient light intensity will be the same on all sides, which may result in the scene's lighting looking more flat. Useful for indoor scenes where pitch black shadows may be too dark, or to maximize performance on low-end devices.

  • Sky: Source ambient light from a specified sky, even if the background is set to a mode other than Sky. If the background mode is already Sky, this mode behaves identically to Background.


When the ambient light mode is set to Sky or Background (and background is set to Sky), it's possible to blend between the ambient color and sky using the Sky Contribution property. This value is set to 1.0 by default, which means that only the ambient sky is used. The ambient color is ignored unless Sky Contribution is decreased below 1.0.

Here is a comparison of how different ambient light affects a scene:


Finally, there is an Energy setting which is a multiplier. It's useful when working with HDR.

In general, you should only rely on ambient light alone for simple scenes or large exteriors. You may also do so to boost performance. Ambient light is fast to render, but it doesn't provide the best lighting quality. It's better to generate ambient light from ReflectionProbe, VoxelGI or SDFGI, as these will simulate how indirect light propagates more accurately. Below is a comparison, in terms of quality, between using a flat ambient color and a VoxelGI:


Using one of the methods described above will replace constant ambient lighting with ambient lighting from the probes.

Reflected light

Reflected light (also called specular light) is the other of the two components of image-based lighting.

Reflected light can be set to one of 3 modes:

  • Background: Reflect from the background, such as the sky, custom color or clear color