In a lot of places I interviewed recently, I have been asked many a times if I have worked with shaders. Even though, I have read and understand the pipeline, the answer to that question has been no. Recently, one of the places asked me if I can send them a sample of 'something' that is "visually polished".

So, I decided to take the plunge and wrote some simple shader in GLSL(with opengl).I now have a basic setup where I can use vbos with glsl shaders.

I have a very short window left to send something to them and I was wondering if someone with experience, could suggest an idea that is interesting enough to grab someone's attention.


  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of demo ? Just a render, or something in real time, or an interactive demo ? \$\endgroup\$
    – dotminic
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ More the merrier is always better :) I have a lot of code, and programmer art, so the folks are little concerned and wanted just something shiny. For simplicity, I think a render/ something in realtime would work. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 16:56

4 Answers 4


Everybody saw phong implemented. So how about:

  • water - there are tons of tutorials and it looks always great
  • shadow mapping - absolute basic in game dev. Multipass rendering is good thing to show. You can improve it with some kind of soft shadows (i highly recommend PCSS - easy effective or Variance Shadow Maps)
  • bumpmapping
  • parallax mapping - looks cool, and pretty easy if you got bump mapping done.
  • geometry shaders (if you do hairs/fur over the polygon - could be based on lines or billboards - they will love you :)) - whitepaper from nvidia
  • mirrors
  • post process - cartoon shader, old camera shader
  • \$\begingroup\$ what is the old camera shader ? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh, thats something super simple. Just desaturation, maybe sepia look and some random placed "old camera" textures added thru additive blending (it sucks, but may impress somebody :]) \$\endgroup\$
    – Notabene
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another thing you might want to look at is materials. Implement one or several shading models efficiently (car paint, plastic). Learn about BRDF:s while doing so. Skinning is also quite often done in the vertex program so that might be something to look at. \$\endgroup\$
    – void
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 7:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool! Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm working on water-effect right now. I'll keep it open for now, in-case if anyone else wants to add some suggestions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 18:08

How about metaballs ? They make for a pretty interesting demo and there is a lot you can do with shading like point lights, reflection, refraction and so on. There is also the classic terrain + water demo, in which you can have texturing, shades, displacement mapping (for the water), reflection...


I work for a school project on a rendering real time demo. Here a link to the video :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj4vvlWuL8E You will find a a link to the source code too if you are interrested. It has lots of shader effect, like water, shadow, parralax toon, motion blur, depth of field etc...

  • \$\begingroup\$ looks pretty awesome +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 15:00

Actually making this work is way out of my depth (and it's DX11 and not OpenGL) but I found this article on Bokeh and DOF effects fascinating, and the results look really good :

How To Fake Bokeh (And Make It Look Pretty Good)

There's a follow-up here too if you're interested.

Another suggestion would be a good HDR tone-mapping algorithm, for example from Uncharted 2's John Hable's blog.


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