WebGL Simple Lighting Tutorial

Easiest Method

Simple Lighting Example Introduction Vertex Shader Fragment Shader Summary

Introduction

This tutorial explains how to prepare very simple WebGL Lighting. In this example shaders apply lighting based on the X and Y vertex coordinates. This lesson covers the vertex and fragment shaders for the WebGL Simple Lighting on a Sphere example.

A number of initialization details were left out, to focus on the main topic. Most WebGL projects initialize as described in the WebGL e-book series. However information in this tutorial should apply to other WebGL projects, such as those that use Unity or three.js, as well.

The free WebGL Earth Model & Texture, outlines array organization for each model including the sphere in this example.

The Vertex Shader

The vertex shader calculates values of light and dark based on X and Y vertex coordinates. The varyings v_light and v_dark then pass those calculations to the fragment shader. The following listing includes the entire vertex shader.

attribute vec4 a_position;   
attribute vec2 a_tex_coord0;
varying vec2 v_tex_coord0;
varying float v_light;
varying float v_dark;
           
uniform mat4 um4_matrix;
uniform mat4 um4_pmatrix;    
      
void main(void) {

// Multiply the current vertex
// by the transformation and
// perspective projection
// matrices.
vec4 v4_position = um4_pmatrix * um4_matrix * a_position;  

// Output the modified
// vertex position
gl_Position = v4_position; 

// Calculate lighting based
// on both X and Y coordinates.
v_light = 1.0 - (v4_position.y + 1.0) * 0.2;
v_light *= 1.0 - (v4_position.x + 1.0) * 0.2;

// Calculate dark based
// on just the X coordinate.
v_dark = (v4_position.x + 1.0) * 0.3;
  
// Map the current vertex position in gl_Position
// to the current texel.
v_tex_coord0 = a_tex_coord0;      
}

The Fragment Shader

The fragment shader simply subtracts from each color channel, the dark value received through varying v_dark. The shader uses the light value passed through varying v_light as the alpha value. For more detailed shader lighting information please see the Point Light Tutorial. The following listing includes the entire fragment shader.

precision mediump float;
uniform sampler2D u_sampler0;

varying vec2 v_tex_coord0;
varying float v_light;
varying float v_dark;

void main(void) {

vec4 color0 = texture2D(
 u_sampler0, 
 v_tex_coord0
);

// Reduce red, green,
// and blue channels,
// by the dark value.
// Apply the light
// as alpha.
gl_FragColor = vec4(
 color0.r-v_dark,
 color0.g-v_dark,
 color0.b-v_dark, 
 v_light
); 
}

WebGL Sphere Preparation

The sphere was created in 3ds Max, exported as a Collada DAE file, then translated with JavaScript for use with WebGL. The JavaScript converter slows down with large numbers of vertices. Therefore the sphere, in this example, is modeled with just sixteen segments. The Glowing Earth example loads a smoother sphere converted with the free WebGL Translator.

Summary

This tutorial explained how to prepare very simple WebGL Lighting. In this example shaders apply lighting based on X and Y vertex coordinates. This lesson covered the vertex and fragment shaders for the WebGL Simple Lighting on a Sphere example.

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