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Water Shader

Starter pack

Summer is coming (at least when I'm writing this lesson), it's time to create a pool party! 🩳

In this lesson, we will create the following water effect using React Three Fiber and GLSL:

The foam is more dense around the edges of the pool and around the duck.

To create this effect we will discover Lygia Shader library to simplify the creation of shaders and we will put into practice the render target technique to create the foam effect.

Starter pack

The starter pack for this lesson includes the following assets:

The rest is simple lighting and camera setup.

Starter pack

A sunny day at the pool 🏊

Water shader

The water is just a simple plane with a <meshBasicMaterial /> applied to it. We will replace this material with a custom shader.

Let's create a new file WaterMaterial.jsx with a boilerplate for a shader material:

import { shaderMaterial } from "@react-three/drei";
import { Color } from "three";

export const WaterMaterial = shaderMaterial(
  {
    uColor: new Color("skyblue"),
    uOpacity: 0.8,
  },
  /*glsl*/ `
  varying vec2 vUv;
  void main() {
    vUv = uv;
    gl_Position = projectionMatrix * modelViewMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);
  }`,
  /*glsl*/ ` 
    varying vec2 vUv;
    uniform vec3 uColor;
    uniform float uOpacity;

    void main() {
      gl_FragColor = vec4(uColor, uOpacity);
      #include <tonemapping_fragment>
      #include <encodings_fragment>
    }`
);

Our material has two uniforms: uColor and uOpacity.

To be able to use our custom material declaratively, let's use the extend function from @react-three/fiber in the main.jsx file:

// ...
import { extend } from "@react-three/fiber";
import { WaterMaterial } from "./components/WaterMaterial.jsx";

extend({ WaterMaterial });

// ...

We need to do the extend call from a file that is imported before the component that uses the custom material. This way, we will be able to use the WaterMaterial declaratively in our components.

That's why we do it in the main.jsx file instead of the WaterMaterial.jsx file.

Now in Water.jsx, we can replace the <meshBasicMaterial /> with our custom material and adjust the properties with the corresponding uniforms:

import { useControls } from "leva";
import { Color } from "three";

export const Water = ({ ...props }) => {
  const { waterColor, waterOpacity } = useControls({
    waterOpacity: { value: 0.8, min: 0, max: 1 },
    waterColor: "#00c3ff",
  });

  return (
    <mesh {...props}>
      <planeGeometry args={[15, 32, 22, 22]} />
      <waterMaterial
        uColor={new Color(waterColor)}
        transparent
        uOpacity={waterOpacity}
      />
    </mesh>
  );
};

We successfully replaced the basic material with our custom shader material.

Lygia Shader Library

To create an animated foam effect, we will use the Lygia Shader library. This library simplifies the creation of shaders by providing a set of utilities and functions to create shaders in a more declarative way.

The section that will interest us is the generative one. It contains a set of useful functions to create generative effects like noise, curl, fbm.

Lygia Shader library

Within the generative section, you can find the list of functions available.

By opening one of the functions, you can see the code snippet to use it in your shader and a preview of the effect.

Lygia Shader library function

pnoise function page

This is the effect we want to use. You can see in the example that to be able to use the pnoise function, they include the pnoise shader file. We will do the same.

Resolve Lygia

To be able to use the Lygia Shader library in our project, we have two options:

  • Copy the content of the library into our project and import the files we need. (We have seen how to import GLSL files in the shaders introduction lesson)
  • Use a library named resolve-lygia that will resolve the Lygia Shader library from the web and automatically replace the #include directives related to lygia with the content of the files.

Depending on your project, how many effects you want to use, and if you are using other shader libraries, you may prefer one solution over the other.

In this lesson, we will use the resolve-lygia library. To install it, run the following command:

yarn add resolve-lygia

Then, to use it we simply need to wrap our fragment and/or vertex shader code with the resolveLygia function:

// ...
import { resolveLygia } from "resolve-lygia";

export const WaterMaterial = shaderMaterial(
  {
    uColor: new Color("skyblue"),
    uOpacity: 0.8,
  },
  /*glsl*/ `
  varying vec2 vUv;
  void main() {
    vUv = uv;
    gl_Position = projectionMatrix * modelViewMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);
  }`,
  resolveLygia(/*glsl*/ ` 
    varying vec2 vUv;
    uniform vec3 uColor;
    uniform float uOpacity;

    void main() {
      gl_FragColor = vec4(uColor, uOpacity);
      #include <tonemapping_fragment>
      #include <encodings_fragment>
    }`)
);

We will only need to use the resolveLygia function for the fragment shader in this lesson.

We can now use the pnoise function in our shader:

#include "lygia/generative/pnoise.glsl"
varying vec2 vUv;
uniform vec3 uColor;
uniform float uOpacity;

void main() {
  float noise = pnoise(vec3(vUv * 10.0, 1.0), vec3(100.0, 24.0, 112.0));
  vec3 black = vec3(0.0);
  vec3 finalColor = mix(uColor, black, noise);
  gl_FragColor = vec4(finalColor, uOpacity);
  #include <tonemapping_fragment>
  #include <encodings_fragment>
}

We multiply the vUv by 10.0 to make the noise more visible and we use the pnoise function to create the noise effect. We mix the uColor with black based on the noise value to create the final color.

Lygia Shader library pnoise

We can see the noise effect applied to the water.

⚠️ Resolve Lygia seems to have some downtime issues from time to time. If you encounter any issues, you can use Glslify library or copy the files from the Lygia Shader library you need and use the glsl files as we did in the shaders introduction lesson.

Foam effect

The noise effect is the fundation of our foam effect. Before fine-tuning the effect, let's create the uniforms we will need to have full control over the foam effect.

WaterMaterial.jsx:

import { shaderMaterial } from "@react-three/drei";
import { resolveLygia } from "resolve-lygia";
import { Color } from "three";

export const WaterMaterial = shaderMaterial(
  {
    uColor: new Color("skyblue"),
    uOpacity: 0.8,
    uTime: 0,
    uSpeed: 0.5,
    uRepeat: 20.0,
    uNoiseType: 0,
    uFoam: 0.4,
    uFoamTop: 0.7,
  },
  /*glsl*/ `
  varying vec2 vUv;
  void main() {
    vUv = uv;
    gl_Position = projectionMatrix * modelViewMatrix * vec4(position, 1.0);
  }`,
  resolveLygia(/*glsl*/ ` 
    #include "lygia/generative/pnoise.glsl"
    varying vec2 vUv;
    uniform vec3 uColor;
    uniform float uOpacity;
    uniform float uTime;
    uniform float uSpeed;
    uniform float uRepeat;
    uniform int uNoiseType;
    uniform float uFoam;
    uniform float uFoamTop;

    void main() {
      float noise = pnoise(vec3(vUv * 10.0, 1.0), vec3(100.0, 24.0, 112.0));
      vec3 black = vec3(0.0);
      vec3 finalColor = mix(uColor, black, noise);
      gl_FragColor = vec4(finalColor, uOpacity);
      #include <tonemapping_fragment>
      #include <encodings_fragment>
    }`)
);

We added the following uniforms:

  • uTime: to animate the foam effect
  • uSpeed: to control the speed of the effect animation
  • uRepeat: to scale the noise effect
  • uNoiseType: to switch between different noise functions
  • uFoam: to control the threshold when the foam effect starts
  • uFoamTop : to control the threshold at which the foam gets denser

Now we need to apply these uniforms on the material. Water.jsx:

import { useFrame } from "@react-three/fiber";
import { useControls } from "leva";
import { useRef } from "react";
import { Color } from "three";

export const Water = ({ ...props }) => {
  const waterMaterialRef = useRef();
  const { waterColor, waterOpacity, speed, noiseType, foam, foamTop, repeat } =
    useControls({
      waterOpacity: { value: 0.8, min: 0, max: 1 },
      waterColor: "#00c3ff",
      speed: { value: 0.5, min: 0, max: 5 },
      repeat: {
        value: 30,
        min: 1,
        max: 100,
      },
      foam: {
        value: 0.4,
        min: 0,
        max: 1,
      },
      foamTop: {
        value: 0.7,
        min: 0,
        max: 1,
      },
      noiseType: {
        value: 0,
        options: {
          Perlin: 0,
          Voronoi: 1,
        },
      },
    });

  useFrame(({ clock }) => {
    if (waterMaterialRef.current) {
      waterMaterialRef.current.uniforms.uTime.value = clock.getElapsedTime();
    }
  });

  return (
    <mesh {...props}>
      <planeGeometry args={[15, 32, 22, 22]} />
      <waterMaterial
        ref={waterMaterialRef}
        uColor={new Color(waterColor)}
        transparent
        uOpacity={waterOpacity}
        uNoiseType={noiseType}
        uSpeed={speed}
        uRepeat={repeat}
        uFoam={foam}
        uFoamTop={foamTop}
      />
    </mesh>
  );
};

We can now create the foam logic in the shader.

We compute our adjusted time by multiplying the uTime by uSpeed:

float adjustedTime = uTime * uSpeed;

Then we generate the noise effect using the pnoise function:

float noise = pnoise(vec3(vUv * uRepeat, adjustedTime * 0.5), vec3(100.0, 24.0, 112.0));

We apply the foam effect by using the smoothstep function:

noise = smoothstep(uFoam, uFoamTop, noise);

Then, we create brighter colors to represent the foam. We create an intermediateColor and a topColor:

vec3 intermediateColor = uColor * 1.8;
vec3 topColor = intermediateColor * 2.0;

We adjust the color based on the noise value:

vec3 finalColor = uColor;
finalColor = mix(uColor, intermediateColor, step(0.01, noise));
finalColor = mix(finalColor, topColor, step(1.0, noise));

When the noise is between 0.01 and 1.0, the color will be the intermediate color. When noise is above or equal to 1.0, the color will be the top color.

Here is the final shader code:

#include "lygia/generative/pnoise.glsl"
varying vec2 vUv;
uniform vec3 uColor;
uniform float uOpacity;
uniform float uTime;
uniform float uSpeed;
uniform float uRepeat;
uniform int uNoiseType;
uniform float uFoam;
uniform float uFoamTop;

void main() {
  float adjustedTime = uTime * uSpeed;

  // NOISE GENERATION
  float noise = pnoise(vec3(vUv * uRepeat, adjustedTime * 0.5), vec3(100.0, 24.0, 112.0));

  // FOAM
  noise = smoothstep(uFoam, uFoamTop, noise);

  //  COLOR
  vec3 intermediateColor = uColor * 1.8;
  vec3 topColor = intermediateColor * 2.0;
  vec3 finalColor = uColor;
  finalColor = mix(uColor, intermediateColor, step(0.01, noise));
  finalColor = mix(finalColor, topColor, step(1.0, noise));

  gl_FragColor = vec4(finalColor, uOpacity);
  #include <tonemapping_fragment>
  #include <encodings_fragment>
}

We now have a nice foam effect on the water.

End of lesson preview

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