WebGL - Drawing Points


We discussed earlier (in Chapter 5) how to follow a step-by-step process to draw a primitive. We have explained the process in five steps. You need to repeat these steps every time you draw a new shape. This chapter explains how to draw points with 3D coordinates in WebGL. Before moving further, let us take a relook at the five steps.

Required Steps

The following steps are required to create a WebGL application to draw points.

Step 1 − Prepare the Canvas and Get the WebGL Rendering Context

In this step, we obtain the WebGL Rendering context object using the method getContext().

Step 2 − Define the Geometry and Store it in the Buffer Objects

Since we are drawing three points, we define three vertices with 3D coordinates and store them in buffers.

var vertices = [

Step 3 − Create and Compile the Shader Programs

In this step, you need to write vertex shader and fragment shader programs, compile them, and create a combined program by linking these two programs.

  • Vertex Shader − In the vertex shader of the given example, we define a vector attribute to store 3D coordinates, and assign it to the gl_position variable.

  • gl_pointsize is the variable used to assign a size to the point. We assign the point size as 10.

var vertCode = 'attribute vec3 coordinates;' +

   'void main(void) {' +
      ' gl_Position = vec4(coordinates, 1.0);' +
      'gl_PointSize = 10.0;'+
  • Fragment Shader − In the fragment shader, we simply assign the fragment color to the gl_FragColor variable

var fragCode = 'void main(void) {' +' gl_FragColor = vec4(1, 0.5, 0.0, 1);' +'}';

Step 4 − Associate the Shader Programs to Buffer Objects

In this step, we associate the buffer objects with the shader program.

Step 5 − Drawing the Required Object

We use the method drawArrays() to draw points. Since the number of points we want to draw are is three, the count value is 3.

gl.drawArrays(gl.POINTS, 0, 3)

Example – Draw Three Points using WebGL

Here is the complete WebGL program to draw three points −

<!doctype html>
      <canvas width = "570" height = "570" id = "my_Canvas"></canvas>


         /*================Creating a canvas=================*/
         var canvas = document.getElementById('my_Canvas');
         gl = canvas.getContext('experimental-webgl'); 
         /*==========Defining and storing the geometry=======*/

         var vertices = [
         // Create an empty buffer object to store the vertex buffer
         var vertex_buffer = gl.createBuffer();

         //Bind appropriate array buffer to it
         gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, vertex_buffer);
         // Pass the vertex data to the buffer
         gl.bufferData(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, new Float32Array(vertices), gl.STATIC_DRAW);

         // Unbind the buffer
         gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, null);

         // vertex shader source code
         var vertCode =
            'attribute vec3 coordinates;' +
            'void main(void) {' +
               ' gl_Position = vec4(coordinates, 1.0);' +
               'gl_PointSize = 10.0;'+
         // Create a vertex shader object
         var vertShader = gl.createShader(gl.VERTEX_SHADER);

         // Attach vertex shader source code
         gl.shaderSource(vertShader, vertCode);

         // Compile the vertex shader

         // fragment shader source code
         var fragCode =
            'void main(void) {' +
               ' gl_FragColor = vec4(0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.1);' +
         // Create fragment shader object
         var fragShader = gl.createShader(gl.FRAGMENT_SHADER);

         // Attach fragment shader source code
         gl.shaderSource(fragShader, fragCode);
         // Compile the fragmentt shader

         // Create a shader program object to store
         // the combined shader program
         var shaderProgram = gl.createProgram();

         // Attach a vertex shader
         gl.attachShader(shaderProgram, vertShader); 
         // Attach a fragment shader
         gl.attachShader(shaderProgram, fragShader);

         // Link both programs

         // Use the combined shader program object

         /*======== Associating shaders to buffer objects ========*/

         // Bind vertex buffer object
         gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, vertex_buffer);

         // Get the attribute location
         var coord = gl.getAttribLocation(shaderProgram, "coordinates");

         // Point an attribute to the currently bound VBO
         gl.vertexAttribPointer(coord, 3, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);

         // Enable the attribute

         /*============= Drawing the primitive ===============*/

         // Clear the canvas
         gl.clearColor(0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0.9);

         // Enable the depth test
         // Clear the color buffer bit

         // Set the view port

         // Draw the triangle
         gl.drawArrays(gl.POINTS, 0, 3);


It will produce the following result −