Your guide to GLSL Shaders!


You’ve probably seen videos of them, or tried them yourself, and were stunned by them. I am talking about GLSL shaders for Minecraft. They are the best way to make Minecraft look a lot better, but they require a lot of skill and a strong PC. In this article I will guide you on how to install them and what each shader does. Keep in mind however, that even with my guidance you should not attempt this unless you’ve modded Minecraft before and know how to put stuff into the minecraft.jar file.

The mod that allows all of the graphical goodness I’m about to talk about is the GLSL shader mod. So you should click on the link here and read about it and download and install it. Before you install the mod though, you should install Optifine from here. It is compatible with the GLSL Shader mod, and improves performance drastically. Pick the version you think will best suit your PC and install it as you would any mod – just put the class files into the minecraft.jar file.

Now onto the GLSL mod: It’s installation is rather simple, you get a .rar file that you need to extract and then just launch an installing application by the mod’s creator. It will then lead you through a couple of steps and install the mod for you. Now that you’ve got your Minecraft optimized and GLSL shader ready, you need to decide which shaders you want. The easiest way to do this is to download the unofficial update for sharugans shaders. It’s a pack that includes all of the shaders available as of the time of writing compiled to work together. This way you can pick shaders by simply editing one file, instead of changing all of the shader files. When you download it, you need to open the final.fsh file with notepad. There will be a bunch of code but you’re looking for this:

// Place two leading Slashes in front of the following ‘#define’ lines in order to disable an option.
//#define USE_DOF
//#define GODRAYS
//#define BLOOM
//#define CEL_SHADING
// If you want a higher quality DOF blur, remove the forward slashes from the following line:
// This is color correction. If you want to enable this, lower ‘BLOOM_AMOUNT’ below to around 5.

That part of the code should be just under the title. The way you turn on shaders, as the code itself says, remove or put two leading slashes in front of the line that says #define followed by the shader name. So for example if I wanted to have Cel-Shading and Depth of Field (DOF), but no bloom or anything else, I would put it like this:

// Place two leading Slashes in front of the following ‘#define’ lines in order to disable an option.
#define USE_DOF
//#define GODRAYS
//#define BLOOM
// If you want a higher quality DOF blur, remove the forward slashes from the following line:
// This is color correction. If you want to enable this, lower ‘BLOOM_AMOUNT’ below to around 5.

To help you decide which shaders you want, I will list them all, along with images of them and a description, under. When you decide which ones you want and edit the file accordingly, save it and copy the shader folder (the one that includes the edited final.fsh file). into the minecraft.jar, overwriting the default shaders.

Included in the shaderpack, but not specified in the final.fsh file is the bump mapping effect. Basically what it does is make some dents and bumps on blocks, and a light reflection (very noticeable on ores) onto some blocks.  The shader pack includes support for this on 128x texture packs. I recommend using Sphax’s Pure BDCraft (you can download the bumpmapping files for it here, just insert them into the .zip of the texture pack) with it. Also always included is the waving grass effect.

Now onto the shaders.

Depth of Field (DOF)

Depth of Field is a focus/blur effect. To put it simply, it makes distant things blurry when you’re looking at a specific thing near you, and makes everything look a bit more realistic by strategically applying blur to certain parts of your view. It takes your pointer as the center of your vision to calculate stuff. This is how it looks in action:

I suggest you keep this effect on, as it adds to the graphical fidelity of Minecraft, and isn’t the most CPU intensive shader.

Godrays and Bloom

These two shaders work very well together, however don’t look very good when separated. They alter the lighting of Minecraft. Bloom is really self-explanatory – it adds the Bloom effect to the game, which in my honest opinion looks awful without godrays, which are the rays of light you see from the sun sometimes. See them in-game:

They aren’t all that visible in normal gameplay, however once you do spot them they really are worth it. These shaders are extremely CPU intensive and can single-handedly cut your FPS in half, so beware when turning them on.


If you’re not yet familiar with cel-shading, let me explain briefly what it is: It’s basically an effect that adds black border lines to everything in the game to make it have a comicbook style. You’ve seen this in a couple of games like Borderlands and Prince of Persia (the one from 2008), and of course, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Here it is:

This effect looks nice with the texture packs that fit it’s style (again: Sphax’s Pure BDCraft), however it is not for everyone. The effect is very strong and visible, and may distract some people from the game, as the lines are much thicker and more visible than in the previously mentioned games. It is CPU intensive as well, so not every PC can handle it. If you like this style though, turn it on, it will be worth it.

High Quality Blur and Cross-Process

These shaders improve upon others, however are buggy and should be left off. Their effects are almost never visible in-game, and can only cause problems for you. Just leave them off, you aren’t missing anything by doing so. ;D

And that would be all for now. Did you get it all? Are you going to try these shaders now? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 Comments on "Your guide to GLSL Shaders!"

  1. Quarg says:

    wow, does no-one realise that cel shading ISN’T the outlines?

    • LittleDinamit says:

      I mentioned that’s not the only thing celshading does, but it’s much easier for people to understand when you give them the example of the outlines. I am sorry if this bothers you, I’m just trying to explain it as simply as possible since most people don’t understand this kind of stuff. :)

    • fex says:

      Quarg is correct, but I don’t really blame the author. It’s a common misconception, and the mod was programmed with the wrong name – what they call “cel-shading” should actually just be called “outline”.

      Cel-shading is when you take smooth lighting and split it into more distinct shading values: so instead of shadows smoothly fading into light areas, a harsh border is created, like this:

      The black cartoon outline actually has nothing to do with cel-shading: it’s just an extra effect that’s almost always used in conjunction with cel-shading because they look so nice together.

      But yeah. Since Quarg mentioned it, he’s completely correct. What the mod calls “cel-shading” is actually an outline effect. In fact, it doesn’t change the shading at all! :D

      Either way, great post! I love Sphax PureBDcraft, and it goes really well with the outline effect.

  2. Noob says:

    Uhh call me a noob and all, but how do you install Sharugan’s shaders?? Like I tried copying the shader files to the “shaders” folder in minecraft.jar but that just messed things up, so I figured I had to copy all of sharugan’s shaders to a folder in Dax’s GSLS installation kit thingy, but idk where. what am i doing wrong?

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