Gouraud shading

Gouraud shading
Gouraud shading

Computer graphics use gourad shading to properly represent 3D objects. Henri Gouraud invented it in 1971, and it’s frequently utilized in the field. Gouraud shadings gives objects a more realistic and appealing appearance by smoothing color transitions. This approach has improved image quality and visual experience in video games, simulations, and computer-generated imagery.

Gouraud shadings uses interpolation to derive pixel fragment colors on polygonal surfaces. It creates a seamless shading effect by computing the colors at each polygon vertex and interpolating them across the surface. Vertex interpolation creates color values depending on vertex illumination and characteristics. Gouraud shadings gives polygonal surfaces realistic lighting and shading by seamlessly blending colors between vertices.

Gouraud shading purpose

The Gouraud shading simulates realistic lighting and shading to improve displayed objects. Gouraud shadings simulates gradient transitions on polygonal surfaces by smoothly interpolating colors between vertices. Flat shading can cause visual glitches and discontinuities. This solution avoids them. Gouraud shadings makes 3D objects look more realistic and appealing by accurately representing their surface qualities.

Gouraud shading purpose
Gouraud shading purpose

Want to smooth out your 3D scenes? You’ve found it. Gouraud shadings makes polygons look curved and rounded without much work. The goal is to calculate lighting at each polygon vertex and blend colors across the face. This simulates a smooth gradation and looks more natural. In this tutorial, I’ll explain Gouraud shadings, how to use it, and its pros and cons. You’ll quickly render subtle shadows and velvety surfaces. Jump in!

Explaining Gourauds Shading and Vertex Interpolation

You must understand vertex interpolation to understand Gourauds shading. Vertex interpolation calculates point colors from surface vertices (corners).Gourauds shading calculates vertex colors based on the angle between the light source, the vertex normal, and the viewer. Blending these per-vertex colors determines the surface color of all points. The surface has smoother color gradients and more realistic shading.

Explaining Gouraud Shading and Vertex Interpolation
Explaining Gouraud Shading and Vertex Interpolation

The basic Gourauds shading steps are:

Set position, normal, and color vertex characteristics. The normal is most crucial for shading calculations.Calculate vertex normals. At that vertex, the normal is perpendicular to the surface. Normals show surface orientation.Calculate vertex colors based on light, normal, and view direction.Blend the vertex colors to determine the surface color of all points. Points near vertices have colors near them.

Apply the estimated smooth color gradient to the surface.

The key benefits of Gouraud shadings are its computing efficiency, smooth shading effects, and ease of implementation. Unfortunately, low-polygon surfaces may look faceted. Gouraud shadings works for most basic shading!

Smooth Lighting Vertex Normal Calculation

Calculating vertex normals gives 3D models clean shading. At each vertex, vertex normals determine lighting direction and intensity.Face normals—the direction perpendicular to triangle faces—are calculated for each mesh triangle. For each vertex, average the face normals of surrounding triangles to get the vertex normal.

Let v be part of four triangles: t1, t2, t3, and t4. Here are the steps:

  • Calculate nearby triangle face normals. Face normals are n1, n2, n3, and n4 for t1, t2, t3, and t4.
  • Sum all face normals: Total = 1+2+3+4
  • Divide ntotal by nearby triangles to get average: Vertex normal nv = ntotal/4
  • Normalize nv to length 1: nv = nv/|nv|
  • Give vertex v its vertex normal nv.

Averaging face normals to get vertex normals creates a seamless lighting transition across your object. This gives gentle, curving shading without sharp edges. Gouraud shadings gives surfaces curvature and complex color transitions, unlike flat shading.

Unlike flat shading, Gouraud shadings requires more intricate lighting calculations and renders slower. However, the authenticity and graphic quality are worth it! If you know how to calculate vertex normals, you can smooth 3D models quickly.

Real-time Gouraud shading

Gouraud shading in real-time rendering requires vertex attribute setup. This involves assigning locations, normals, and texture coordinates to each 3D model vertex.

Vertex Normal Calculation

The faces around each vertex determine its normal. Normalization averages the face normals to provide a smooth, interpolated vertex normal. Vertex normals shade your model smoothly.

The rendering process

The graphics card interpolates vertex attributes across each face to calculate new point positions, normals, and texture coordinates during rendering. Interpolated normal lighting calculations are done at each new interpolated location. This gives that point a color.A smooth color gradient over the face is created by blending adjacent point color values. Color blending and interpolated normals give Gouraud shading its smooth appearance.

To optimize efficiency, reduce model vertices while keeping detail. You should also avoid overcalculating vertex normals when flat shading is enough. Only calculate vertex normals for smooth shading.Gouraud shading balances real-time rendering performance and quality. It renders curved surfaces more smoothly and realistically than flat shading. However, face color banding can occur. High-quality rendering requires complex shading techniques like Phong shading. Most real-time applications benefit from Gouraud shading!

Benefits of Gouraud Shading for Low-Poly Models

An advantage of Gouraud shading is that it works well for low-polygon models. Gouraud shading can make a low-detail model look more lifelike.Even with a low-poly model, Gouraud shadings interpolates illumination values across polygon faces to create a curved, smooth surface. The color gradients generate unmodeled highlights and shadows, giving the impression of additional detail.

Benefits of Gouraud Shading for Low-Poly Models
Benefits of Gouraud Shading for Low-Poly Models

This means you can use less polygons and yet obtain a realistic picture. For mobile devices, virtual reality, and video games that prioritize performance, Gouraud shading makes low-poly models appear attractive without losing speed or frame rates.Gouraud shading hides low-poly models’ rough edges and sharp corners with smooth color blending. Interpolated lighting and gentle color changes soften the shapes and edges.

As a simple way to give detail and realism to low-poly 3D graphics, Gouraud shading is a good alternative to high-poly models with sophisticated textures, normal mapping, and complicated lighting. Gouraud shading helps beginners construct simple 3D forms, objects, and settings.If you want to shade a low-poly model effectively and realistically, Gouraud shading is your best option. Its ability to interpolate lighting, hide rough edges, and create smooth curves makes it ideal for low-poly models.

Potential Artifacts and Gouraud Shading Limitations

Gouraud shading is better than flat shading, but it has limitations.


Gouraud shadings interpolates lighting values across polygon faces, although each vertex can only calculate one color. A face may have distinct color bands, called “banding.” Banding fades with more vertices. Banding is especially visible on spheres with moderate color gradients.

Special Highlights

Specular highlights on polished surfaces are difficult to portray with Gouraud shadings. Since it just estimates vertice lighting, it misses face peak highlight intensity. Due of this, specular highlights appear dull or “smeared”.

Shadows pose challenges for Gouraud shadings, particularly soft shadows. Hard, jagged shadow boundaries are common. Partial shadows on a face can look uneven.

View Dependence

View-dependent Gouraud shadings calculates lighting based on viewer position. Rotating the camera changes object shading. It might be hard to get realistic shading from all angles.

Gouraud shadings was a major improvement over flat shading, but Phong shading addresses many of these issues. Phong shading calculates illumination for points within faces instead of vertices, creating smoother, more realistic results. If banding, specular highlights, shadows, or view dependence plague your scene, try Phong shading!


Here’s a primer for Gouraud shadings. You now understand how it works and how to use it in projects. Gourauds shadings has inherent drawbacks, yet for many applications, it balances visual quality and performance. Try it in your next project to improve 3D scenes. You’ll quickly smooth lights and objects. Once you master Gouraud shadings, you’ll have a solid foundation for further shading techniques. Enjoy rendering!

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