Ocean water has several phenomena that are hard to simulate while they make the process more complex than lake water rendering. There are different types of waves:

  • Surging breakers roll onto steep beaches
  • Plunging Breakers form tunnels if the beach slope is moderately steep
  • Spilling breakers generate foam on gentle sloping beaches

About different types of ocean waves check the Science & Technology Focus homepage.

Although, for example, the Navier-Stokes equations can handle all the different wave formations, their computational expense is huge. The other approaches discussed in earlier chapters can't really handle multiple type of waves at the same time, while the height-field representation has several limitation also. Various techniques can be combined and the number of different solutions is practically endless.


The following examples try to render ocean surfaces that fit their requirements as good as possible, but they can lack important properties at the same time, that are vital at other environments.

Name Shader Source Demo available Complexity
Cheap Ocean Shader Yes Yes 1
Complex Ocean Shader Yes Yes 6
Projected Grid Ocean with example Yes Yes 8
Ocean Shader Theoretical description by GPU Gems No No 8
Ocean Shader by KRI Yes No 10

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