How to draw a star in iOS OpenGL ES 2.0

This question has been asked before but the quite a few years ago in my searches. The answer was always to use texture mapping but what I really want to do is represent the star as a single vertex – you may think I’m copping out with a simplistic method but in fact, a single point source of light actually looks pretty good and realistic. But I want to process that point of light with something like a gaussian blur too give it a little more body when zooming in or for brighter stars. I was going to texture map a gaussian blur image but if I understand things correctly I would then have to draw each star with 4 vertexes. Maybe not so difficult but I don’t want to go there if I can just process a single vertex. Would a vertex-shader do this? Can GLKBaseEffects get me there? Any suggestions?


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  • 2 Solutions Collect From Internet About “How to draw a star in iOS OpenGL ES 2.0”

    You can use point sprites.

    Draw Calls

    You use a texture containing the image of the star, and use the typical setup to bind a texture, bind it to a sampler uniform in the shader, etc.

    You draw a single vertex for each star, with GL_POINTS as the primitive type passed as the first argument to glDrawArrays()/glDrawElements(). No texture coordinates are needed.

    Vertex Shader

    In the vertex shader, you transform the vertex as you normally would, and also set the built-in gl_PointSize variable:

    uniform float PointSize;
    attribute vec4 Position;
    void main() {
        gl_Position = ...;  // Transform Position attribute;
        gl_PointSize = PointSize;

    For the example, I used a uniform for the point size, which means that all stars will have the same size. Depending on the desired effect, you could also calculate the size based on the distance, or use an additional vertex attribute to specify a different size for each star.

    Fragment Shader

    In the fragment shader, you can now access the built-in gl_PointCoord variable to get the relative coordinates of the fragment within the point sprite. If your point sprite is a simple texture image, you can use it directly as the texture coordinates.

    uniform sampler2D SpriteTex;
    void main() {
        gl_FragColor = texture2D(SpriteTex, gl_PointCoord);

    Additional Material

    I answered a somewhat similar question here: Render large circular points in modern OpenGL. Since it was for desktop OpenGL, and not for a textured sprite, this seemed worth a separate answer. But some of the steps are shared, and might be explained in more detail in the other answer.

    I’ve been busy educating myself on this and trying it but I’m getting strange results. It seems to work with regard to vertex transform – because I see the points moved out on the screen – but pointsize and colour are not being affected. The colour seems to be some sort of default yellow colour with some shading between vertices.

    What bothers me too is that I get error messages on built-ins in the vertex shader. Here are the vertex/fragment code and the error messages:

    #Vertex shader
    precision mediump float;
    precision lowp int;
    attribute float Pointsize;
    varying vec4 color_out;
    void main()
        gl_PointSize = Pointsize;
        gl_Position = gl_ModelViewMatrix * gl_Vertex;
        color_out = vec4(0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 1.0); // output only green for test
    #Fragment shader
    precision mediump float;
    precision lowp int;
    varying vec4        color_out;
    void main()
        gl_FragColor = color_out;

    Here’s the error message:

    ERROR: 0:24: Use of undeclared identifier ‘gl_ModelViewMatrix’
    ERROR: 0:24: Use of undeclared identifier ‘gl_Vertex’
    ERROR: One or more attached shaders not successfully compiled

    It seems the transform is being passed from my iOS code where I’m using GLKBaseEffects such as in the following lines:

    self.effect.transform.modelviewMatrix = modelViewMatrix;
    [self.effect prepareToDraw];

    But I’m not sure exactly whats happening, especially with the shader compile errors.