After parsing collada files I found out that we have to load two(or more) indices each pointing to say a vertex or normal etc. like this (<p>3 0 2 0 0 0</p>)

Is there a way to load (and use)these indices to indices buffer(ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER) like this (vnvnvn...)
; where v is vertex pointer, n is normal pointer from the above.

with vertices loaded to VBO1 like (vvvv...) and in VBO2 like (nnnn...). So that we dont have to repeat the normals in VBO2.

VBO like (vnvnvn...) is also ok.

(and not something like this https://stackoverflow.com/questions/11148567/rendering-meshes-with-multiple-indices), I'm not trying to use multiple indices buffer. I'm trying to put all the given indices into one index buffer and use them alternately.

(If I wasnt clear i will try for more clarification.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the constraint about not using multiple index buffers? It seems to be exactly the approach you need to map your index tuple into corresponding buffers. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2016 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think opengl only allows one index buffer. Its not that I just want to use one index buffer, if there was a way to use more than one I'd be ok with that. \$\endgroup\$
    – rjbaj
    Mar 30, 2016 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


If you're using the built-in vertex attribute gathering from vertex buffer bindings, a single numeric index is all you can use as indexes are used directly by the API.

This is immutable and cannot change, each element from the index buffer is used to gather attributes from the same offset in each bound attribute buffer.

A neat technique you may want to look at is that you can instead bind your geometry as textures or SSBOs to your shader and draw with no buffers bound, relying on gl_VertexID in the shader to sample from your geometry sources, where my_Positions is such a buffer and my_Indices is a buffer of indices.

gl_VertexID is a shader-visible integer that holds the value of the index of the current vertex being transformed. If you draw with an index buffer, it's the index, if you draw unindexed geometry, it's in a linearly increasing sequence of 0,1,2.... By drawing geometry with N unindexed vertices with no index buffers and vertex buffers bound in the VAO, you can do the attribute sampling yourself in your shader like:

vec4 position = my_Positions[my_Indices[gl_VertexID]];
vec3 normal = my_Normals[my_Indices[gl_VertexID]];

This can trivially be extended into multiple index sources:

vec4 position = my_Positions[my_PositionIndices[gl_VertexID]];
vec3 normal = my_Normals[my_NormalIndices[gl_VertexID]];

If your indices are small enough, you can avoid binding separate buffers for indices and use the built-in element buffer by packing all your indices into a single R32 index, like idx = ((pIdx & 0xFFFF) << 16 | (nIdx & 0xFFFF)). You still have to do the manual sampling in your shader, as the built-in index lookup would overshoot any bound buffers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ sounds nice. I'll give this a try. \$\endgroup\$
    – rjbaj
    Mar 30, 2016 at 3:00

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