Any tips on making water "look" good?

I was hoping to get some tips on making water look good.

I have an arbitrary grid and I simulate my water by area sampling the points around each displacement…

The effect is nice, but my water hardly looks like water…I tried adding light (and averaging the normals) but the shading still looks blocky…

I also tried overlapping a semi transparent enviornment mapped layer over the grid…This is “ok”.

Game programming gems had an incredible effect for their water, but I find their code a little un-decipherable…

So this is really about realistic mapping…any suggestions…an order of steps would be greatly appreciated…

(like draw first texture, add specular light, blend with second texture etc…)

i have a demo of the old drops in the water effect on my site with easy to understand code (i hope)

I think that the water in the Crytek “Dino Island” GF3 shots that you can find on the web in a few places looks pretty awesome. I know it uses offset texturing (the texture shaders name for EMBM), but I don’t know the exact algorithm. Cass, you at liberty to say?

Then again, this hardly helps people who do not have a GF3.

  • Matt

Can I have a link to your site Zed?

There is a lot of info about water / ocean effects at where I work. Check out the bottom link and then the application demo. I had a big hand in this, but really only got a chance to test it on a Geforce 2.

It’d be great if you could drop me a line and let me know how it works on other cards (or in general what you think). It’s not the newest version and I’ve fixed some bugs and optimized since, but it should give you a good idea about the quality.

– Zeno

I agree Matt, so when will you ship me a GF3 so I can play around with it? If you can’t spare a GF3, I’ll take a GF2!

For raindrop effect, I thougbt this one guy had a unique solution, he recorded real rain, made a series of textures, and just animated them that way. Sure, it is a waste, but it did look real! I think Romka’s site posted some source to some code that has water effects, I forgot who made, but I think it was named DSalpha or somthing.

The wave water stuff looks really cool, but I was wondering if you have any info on weather effects – particularly rain and snow. I’m not concerned as much with rendering as in the actual algorithms of rainfall, snowfall.

Well, I take that back. Any information at all is appreciated.


I’m one of the authors of the Game Programming Gem you’re referring to. What questions do you have about the code?