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WebGL Month. Day 18. Flat shading

lesnitsky profile image Andrei Lesnitsky ・6 min read

Flat shading

This is a series of blog posts related to WebGL. New post will be available every day

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Hey πŸ‘‹

Welcome to WebGL month.

Today we'll learn how to implement flat shading. But let's first talk about light itself.

A typical 3d scene will contain an object, global light and some specific source of light (torch, lamp etc.)

So how do we break all these down to something we can turn into a code

Here's an example

Light illustration

Pay attention to the red arrows coming from cube faces. These arrows are "normals", and each face color will depend on the angle between a vector of light and face normal.

Let's change the way our object is colorized and make all faces the same color to see better how light affects face colors

πŸ“„ src/3d.js

  const { vertices, indices } = parseObj(monkeyObj);

  const faceColors = [
-     [1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0], // Front face: white
-     [1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0], // Back face: red
-     [0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 1.0], // Top face: green
-     [0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 1.0], // Bottom face: blue
-     [1.0, 1.0, 0.0, 1.0], // Right face: yellow
-     [1.0, 0.0, 1.0, 1.0], // Left face: purple
+     [0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 1.0]
  ];

  const colors = [];

  for (var j = 0; j < indices.length / 3; ++j) {
-     const randomColorIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * faceColors.length);
-     colors.push(randomColorIndex, randomColorIndex, randomColorIndex);
+     colors.push(0, 0, 0, 0);
  }

  faceColors.forEach((color, index) => {

We'll also need to extract normals from our object and use drawArrays instead of drawElements, as each vertex can't be referenced by index, because vertex coordinates and normals have different indices

πŸ“„ src/3d.js


  const programInfo = setupShaderInput(gl, program, vShaderSource, fShaderSource);

- const { vertices, indices } = parseObj(monkeyObj);
+ const { vertices, normals } = parseObj(monkeyObj);

  const faceColors = [
      [0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 1.0]

  const colors = [];

- for (var j = 0; j < indices.length / 3; ++j) {
+ for (var j = 0; j < vertices.length / 3; ++j) {
      colors.push(0, 0, 0, 0);
  }


  const vertexBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, vertices, gl.STATIC_DRAW);
  const colorsBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, new Float32Array(colors), gl.STATIC_DRAW);
- const indexBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER, indices, gl.STATIC_DRAW);

  vertexBuffer.bind(gl);
  gl.vertexAttribPointer(programInfo.attributeLocations.position, 3, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);

  gl.viewport(0, 0, canvas.width, canvas.height);

- gl.drawElements(gl.TRIANGLES, indexBuffer.data.length, gl.UNSIGNED_SHORT, 0);
+ gl.drawArrays(gl.TRIANGLES, 0, vertexBuffer.data.length / 3);

  function frame() {
      mat4.rotateY(modelMatrix, modelMatrix, Math.PI / 180);

      gl.uniformMatrix4fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.modelMatrix, false, modelMatrix);
-     gl.drawElements(gl.TRIANGLES, indexBuffer.data.length, gl.UNSIGNED_SHORT, 0);
+ 
+     gl.drawArrays(gl.TRIANGLES, 0, vertexBuffer.data.length / 3);

      requestAnimationFrame(frame);
  }

πŸ“„ src/gl-helpers.js

  }

  export function parseObj(objSource) {
-     const vertices = [];
-     const indices = [];
+     const _vertices = [];
+     const _normals = [];
+     const vertexIndices = [];
+     const normalIndices = [];

      objSource.split('\n').forEach(line => {
          if (line.startsWith('v ')) {
-             vertices.push(...parseVec(line, 'v '));
+             _vertices.push(parseVec(line, 'v '));
+         }
+ 
+         if (line.startsWith('vn ')) {
+             _normals.push(parseVec(line, 'vn '));
          }

          if (line.startsWith('f ')) {
-             indices.push(...parseFace(line).map(face => face[0] - 1));
+             const parsedFace = parseFace(line);
+ 
+             vertexIndices.push(...parsedFace.map(face => face[0] - 1));
+             normalIndices.push(...parsedFace.map(face => face[2] - 1));
          }
      });

+     const vertices = [];
+     const normals = [];
+ 
+     for (let i = 0; i < vertexIndices.length; i++) {
+         const vertexIndex = vertexIndices[i];
+         const normalIndex = normalIndices[i];
+ 
+         const vertex = _vertices[vertexIndex];
+         const normal = _normals[normalIndex];
+ 
+         vertices.push(...vertex);
+         normals.push(...normal);
+     }
+ 
      return { 
          vertices: new Float32Array(vertices), 
-         indices: new Uint16Array(indices),
+         normals: new Float32Array(normals), 
      };
  }

Define normal attribute

πŸ“„ src/3d.js


  const vertexBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, vertices, gl.STATIC_DRAW);
  const colorsBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, new Float32Array(colors), gl.STATIC_DRAW);
+ const normalsBuffer = new GLBuffer(gl, gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, normals, gl.STATIC_DRAW);

  vertexBuffer.bind(gl);
  gl.vertexAttribPointer(programInfo.attributeLocations.position, 3, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);
  colorsBuffer.bind(gl);
  gl.vertexAttribPointer(programInfo.attributeLocations.colorIndex, 1, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);

+ normalsBuffer.bind(gl);
+ gl.vertexAttribPointer(programInfo.attributeLocations.normal, 3, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);
+ 
  const modelMatrix = mat4.create();
  const viewMatrix = mat4.create();
  const projectionMatrix = mat4.create();

πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl

  attribute vec3 position;
+ attribute vec3 normal;
  attribute float colorIndex;

  uniform mat4 modelMatrix;

Let's also define a position of light and pass it to shader via uniform

πŸ“„ src/3d.js

  gl.uniformMatrix4fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.viewMatrix, false, viewMatrix);
  gl.uniformMatrix4fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.projectionMatrix, false, projectionMatrix);

+ gl.uniform3fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.directionalLightVector, [0, 0, -7]);
+ 
  gl.viewport(0, 0, canvas.width, canvas.height);

  gl.drawArrays(gl.TRIANGLES, 0, vertexBuffer.data.length / 3);

πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl

  uniform mat4 viewMatrix;
  uniform mat4 projectionMatrix;
  uniform vec4 colors[6];
+ uniform vec3 directionalLightVector;

  varying vec4 vColor;


Now we can use normal vector and directional light vector to calculate light "intensity" and multiply initial color

πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl


  void main() {
      gl_Position = projectionMatrix * viewMatrix * modelMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);
-     vColor = colors[int(colorIndex)];
+ 
+     float intensity = dot(normal, directionalLightVector);
+ 
+     vColor = colors[int(colorIndex)] * intensity;
  }

Lighting 1

Now some faces are brighter, some are lighter, so overall approach is working, but image seem to be too bright

One issue with current implementation is that we're using "non-normalized" vector for light direction

πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl

  void main() {
      gl_Position = projectionMatrix * viewMatrix * modelMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);

-     float intensity = dot(normal, directionalLightVector);
+     float intensity = dot(normal, normalize(directionalLightVector));

      vColor = colors[int(colorIndex)] * intensity;
  }

Lighting 2

Looks better, but still too bright.

This is because we also multiply alpha component of the color by our intensity, so darker faces become lighter because they have opacity close to 0.

πŸ“„ src/3d.js

- import { mat4 } from 'gl-matrix';
+ import { mat4, vec3 } from 'gl-matrix';

  import vShaderSource from './shaders/3d.v.glsl';
  import fShaderSource from './shaders/3d.f.glsl';

πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl


      float intensity = dot(normal, normalize(directionalLightVector));

-     vColor = colors[int(colorIndex)] * intensity;
+     vColor.rgb = vec3(0.3, 0.3, 0.3) + colors[int(colorIndex)].rgb * intensity;
+     vColor.a = 1.0;
  }

Lighting 3

Now it is too dark πŸ˜•

Let's add some "global light"

Lighting 4

Looks better, but still not perfect.
It seems like the light source rotates together with object. This happens because we transform vertex positions, but normals stay the same. We need to transform normals as well. There is a special transformation matrix which could be calculatd as invert-transpose from model matrix.

πŸ“„ src/3d.js

  const modelMatrix = mat4.create();
  const viewMatrix = mat4.create();
  const projectionMatrix = mat4.create();
+ const normalMatrix = mat4.create();

  mat4.lookAt(
      viewMatrix,
  function frame() {
      mat4.rotateY(modelMatrix, modelMatrix, Math.PI / 180);

+     mat4.invert(normalMatrix, modelMatrix);
+     mat4.transpose(normalMatrix, normalMatrix);
+ 
      gl.uniformMatrix4fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.modelMatrix, false, modelMatrix);
+     gl.uniformMatrix4fv(programInfo.uniformLocations.normalMatrix, false, normalMatrix);

      gl.drawArrays(gl.TRIANGLES, 0, vertexBuffer.data.length / 3);


πŸ“„ src/shaders/3d.v.glsl

  uniform mat4 modelMatrix;
  uniform mat4 viewMatrix;
  uniform mat4 projectionMatrix;
+ uniform mat4 normalMatrix;
  uniform vec4 colors[6];
  uniform vec3 directionalLightVector;

  void main() {
      gl_Position = projectionMatrix * viewMatrix * modelMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);

-     float intensity = dot(normal, normalize(directionalLightVector));
+     vec3 transformedNormal = (normalMatrix * vec4(normal, 1.0)).xyz;
+     float intensity = dot(transformedNormal, normalize(directionalLightVector));

      vColor.rgb = vec3(0.3, 0.3, 0.3) + colors[int(colorIndex)].rgb * intensity;
      vColor.a = 1.0;

Lighting 5

Cool, looks good enough!

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow πŸ‘‹


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