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How to simulate a 3D texture in WebGL


So in WebGL, I can store a texture in up to 2 dimensions- and read it in the shader using texture2D(whatever);

If i wanted to store a 3 dimensional texture so that I can read 3-dimensions worth of data on the shader, how would I do it?

Here are my ideas- and I am wondering if I am approaching it correctly:

In Javascript:

var info = [];

for (var x = 0; x < 1; x+=.1) {
     for (var y = 0; y < 1; y+=.1) {
          for (var z = 0; z < 1; z+=.1) {

               info.push (x*y*z); 


//bind texture here- whatever

gl.texImage2D(gl.TEXTURE_2D, 0, gl.RGBA, 10, 100, 0,
                  gl.RGBA, gl.FLOAT, data_on_shader);

//other texture stuff

On the shader:

uniform sampler data_on_shader;
x= texture.r//
y = texture.g//
z = texture.b//

xfixed = floor(x*10.)/10. + .5;
yfixed = floor(y*10.)/10. + .5;
zfixed = floor(z*10.)/10. + .5;

float data_received = texture2D(data_on_shader, vec2(xfixed, yfixed*10. + zfixed)).r;

Something to the effect of using row major order within a 2d texture? Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!


You can simulate a 3d texture by storing each plane of the 3d texture in a 2d texture

Then a function like this will let you use it as a 3d texture

vec4 sampleAs3DTexture(sampler2D tex, vec3 texCoord, float size)
    float sliceSize = 1.0 / size;             // space of 1 slice
    float slicePixelSize = sliceSize / size; // space of 1 pixel
    float width = size - 1.0;
    float sliceInnerSize = slicePixelSize * width; // space of size pixels
    float zSlice0 = floor(texCoord.z * width);
    float zSlice1 = min(zSlice0 + 1.0, width);
    float xOffset = slicePixelSize * 0.5 + texCoord.x * sliceInnerSize;
    float yRange = (texCoord.y * width + 0.5) / size;
    float s0 = xOffset + (zSlice0 * sliceSize);
    float s1 = xOffset + (zSlice1 * sliceSize);
    vec4 slice0Color = texture2D(tex, vec2(s0, yRange));
    vec4 slice1Color = texture2D(tex, vec2(s1, yRange));
    float zOffset = mod(texCoord.z * width, 1.0);
    return mix(slice0Color, slice1Color, zOffset);

If your 3d texture was 8x8x8 then you'd make a 2d texture that is 64x8 and put each plane of the 3d texture in your 2d texture. Then, knowing that was originally 8x8x8 you'd pass in 8.0 for the size to sampleAs3DTexture

precision mediump float;
uniform sampler2D u_my3DTexture;
varying vec3 v_texCoord;


#define CUBE_SIZE 8.0

void main() {
  gl_FragColor = sampleAs3DTexture(u_my3DTexture, v_texCoord, CUBE_SIZE);

Note: the function above assumes you want bilinear filtering between the planes. If you don't you can simplify the function, by returning return texture2D(tex, vec2( s0, yRange)); immediately after calculating s0.

There's a video explanation of this code here which is from this sample. The video explanation and the final code in the sample differ slightly. This is due to the code miscalculating LUT size and shifting all colors blue, which was corrected by the author in 2019.

The question and quoted portions thereof are CC BY-SA 3.0 by Skorpius from here
Questions? Ask on stackoverflow.
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