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Sea Foam


Mary Yingst, Jennifer R. Alford, and Ian Parberry, "Very Fast Real-Time Ocean Wave Foam Rendering Using Halftoning", Proceedings of the 6th International North American Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation (GAMEON-NA), pp. 27-34, EUROSIS, Troy, NY, 2011.


We introduce an efficient method for emulating sea foam dissipation suitable for use in real-time interactive environments such as video games. By using a precomputed dither array with controlled spectral characteristics adopted from halftone research as a control mechanism in the pixel shader, we can animate the appearance of foam bubbles popping in a random manner while allowing it to clump naturally.


Closeup of Three Techniques

The following video shows waves rendered in three different ways: Using the foam mask created using half-toning techniques at left, the traditional method using an alpha-blended foam texture in the center, and our new technique at right.

Coastline Example

This video shows how the sea foam looks when put together with a rudimentary seaside scene.

Images and Animations

Foam fading.
Repeating wave animation.

Noisy image.

Animation of halftone maps generated with increasing values of γ. At left, halftone masks created using Gaussian filters with γ ranging from 1.5 to 24. Notice that the dots appear to cluster more in the later images than the earlier ones. The corresponding RAPS are shown at right.

Graph of exp(-tan(x)).

A graph of the function e-tan x.


Coastline with waves.

Game screenshot.

Screenshot of foam implemented in third-person game.

More Information

Created May 20, 2011. Written in HTML 4.01 and CSS 3 using vi. Last updated October 3, 2011.

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