WebGL - Modes of Drawing


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In the previous chapter (Chapter 12), we discussed how to draw a triangle using WebGL. In addition to triangles, WebGL supports various other drawing modes. This chapter explains the drawing modes supported by WebGL.

The mode Parameter

Let’s take a look at the syntax of the methods − drawElements() and draw Arrays().

void drawElements(enum mode, long count, enum type, long offset);

void drawArrays(enum mode, int first, long count);

If you clearly observe, both the methods accept a parameter mode. Using this parameter, the programmers can select the drawing mode in WebGL.

The drawing modes provided by WebGL are listed in the following table.

Sr.No. Mode & Description
1

gl.POINTS

To draw a series of points.

2

gl.LINES

To draw a series of unconnected line segments (individual lines).

3

gl.LINE_STRIP

To draw a series of connected line segments.

4

gl.LINE_LOOP

To draw a series of connected line segments. It also joins the first and last vertices to form a loop.

5

gl.TRIANGLES

To draw a series of separate triangles.

6

gl.TRIANGLE_STRIP

To draw a series of connected triangles in strip fashion.

7

gl.TRIANGLE_FAN

To draw a series of connected triangles sharing the first vertex in a fan-like fashion.

Example – Draw Three Parallel Lines

The following example shows how to draw three parallel lines using gl.LINES.

Live Demo
<!doctype html>
<html>
   <body>
      <canvas width = "300" height = "300" id = "my_Canvas"></canvas>

      <script>
         /*======= Creating a canvas =========*/

         var canvas = document.getElementById('my_Canvas');
         var gl = canvas.getContext('experimental-webgl');

         /*======= Defining and storing the geometry ======*/

         var vertices = [
            -0.7,-0.1,0,
            -0.3,0.6,0,
            -0.3,-0.3,0,
            0.2,0.6,0,
            0.3,-0.3,0,
            0.7,0.6,0 
         ]

         // Create an empty buffer object
         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);

         /*=================== Shaders ====================*/

         // Vertex shader source code
         var vertCode =
            'attribute vec3 coordinates;' +
            'void main(void) {' +
               ' gl_Position = vec4(coordinates, 1.0);' +
            '}';

         // 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
         gl.compileShader(vertShader);

         // 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
         gl.compileShader(fragShader);

         // 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 the programs
         gl.linkProgram(shaderProgram);

         // Use the combined shader program object
         gl.useProgram(shaderProgram);

         /*======= 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
         gl.enableVertexAttribArray(coord);

         /*============ Drawing the triangle =============*/

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

         // Enable the depth test
         gl.enable(gl.DEPTH_TEST);

         // Clear the color and depth buffer
         gl.clear(gl.COLOR_BUFFER_BIT | gl.DEPTH_BUFFER_BIT);

         // Set the view port
         gl.viewport(0,0,canvas.width,canvas.height);

         // Draw the triangle
         gl.drawArrays(gl.LINES, 0, 6);

         // POINTS, LINE_STRIP, LINE_LOOP, LINES,
         // TRIANGLE_STRIP,TRIANGLE_FAN, TRIANGLES
      </script>
   </body>
</html>

If you run this example, it will produce the following output −

Drawing Modes

In the above program, if you replace the mode of drawArrays() with one of the following drawing modes, it will produce different outputs each time.

Drawing Modes Outputs
LINE_STRIP Line Strip
LINE_LOOP Line Loop
TRIANGLE_STRIP Triangle Strip
TRIANGLE_FAN Triangle Fan
TRIANGLES Triangles


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