The Color class in threejs a overview of features
When it comes to threejs the THREE.Color constructor can be used to work with colors for various object properties that need a color value, as well as to just work with color in general. This constructor function can be used to create a THREE.Color class object instance that represents a specific color that can then be used to set the background color and the fog color when it comes to scene objects, the color of various properties of a material such as the color and emissive values, and just about almost everything else that has to do with color.
What is nice about the THREE.Color class is that the class is packed with a number of features that allow for me to create a color in a number of different ways, including just passing three numbers for red, green and blue color channel values in the form of a number between 0 and 1 as arguments when calling the constructor function. Regardless of how I create the color what is returned is an instance of THREE.Color, rather than a string value for a color, and as such there is a red, green, and blue property of the object. There are also a great number of prototype methods that have to do with mutating these values, or returning values based off the state of these properties, or changing the state of the color. For example there is a get hex method that will return a hex string value of the color, and a set RGB method that will change the value of the color by r, g, and b values.
THREE.Color and what to know first
A Transparent effect is a whole other can of worms
Check out more on what there is to know about materials
There are a number of reasons as to why I would want to create an instance of color, one of which is to create a value to be used with one of the various properties of one or more kinds of mesh materials. However what properties are what when it comes to creating or change a color value will change a little from one material to another. For example when it comes to the basic material it is more or less just the color property that I care about, but when it comes to the standard material, or the phong material, there is the color and emissive property that I need to be aware of.
The source code examples in this post, and in many others is on Github
The source code examples that I am writing about in this post, as well as for many of my other posts on threejs, can be found in my test threejs repository on Github. Cloding down the repo, installing the node modules, and running the server would be the best way to quickly get things up and ruining on your end if you would like to see all of these examples in action.
Version Numbers matter with three.js
When I first wrote this post I was using r127 of threejs which was a late version of three.js in April of 2021. The last time I came around to doing editing with this post I was then using r146 of threejs when checking out the source code examples. Code breaking changes are made to threejs all the time, so be sure to always check the version that you are using relative to the dates of the code examples that you are looking at on the open web.
1 - Basic examples section of the THREE.Color class
For this very first section I will be trying my best to avoid doing anything fancy as this will be the basic getting started section of the color class. So for these examples I will be avoiding the use of animation loops, lights, textures, and so forth. The focus then will be on the color class and just some basic features of threejs and the usual set of objects that are needed for any threejs project examples.
1.1 - Color property of a Mesh material
To start out here how about a basic use case example of the THREE.Color constructor where I am just setting the regular color property of a material, and then using that material with a mesh object and some geometry that was created with one of the built in geometry constructor functions.
When setting the color value of a material it is important to take into consideration what kind of material it is to begin with. In this example I am using the basic material which is a kind of material that does not work with light sources. This will help to keep the example a little more basic as I do not need to add additional objects to the scene that add light to the over all scene. However one draw back of just using a solid color with the basic material is that I get a solid mass of color in the screen. Still when it comes to just getting started with this sort of thing this will work okay for a basic example.
In this example it is just the color property of the basic material that I am setting a solid color for with the color class. Although this example works okay for a starting point one thing that is a pain about this is that I just end up with one big solid mass of color. If I want to have some sense of depth there is doing a number of things that can help with that. There is of course getting into using a material that will respond to a light source for sure which would be one way to address this. However for the sake of this basic section I think I should stick to the basic material and what there is to work with when it comes to other options that can be sued to add some depth.
1.2 - Using lines and adding them as a child for a mesh object, and setting color for that as well
One way to add some depth to the object is to create some lines based on the same geometry as a mesh object, and then add that as a child of the mesh object. When making a Line object I have to stick to using special materials that are made for line objects rather than mesh objects. When doing so I can also set the color option of line materials with a color object as well.
2 - Setting Color and Emissive Color with THREE.Color
Another property of interest when it comes to setting the color values of a material that responds to light is the emissive property of a material. This property is a color that will be used always regardless of what the situation might be when it comes to what is going on with light in the scene. Just like with the color property the emissive property can also be set with a color object created with THREE.Color. When doing so I will often want to adjust the emissive intensity of the material as I might now always want the emmisve color to be full bast of course.
There is also creating a texture to use as an emmisive map which can often be used as a way to create cool effects with textures. The use of this emissive map will allow me to set what areas of a face will be effected by the emmisve color and intensity, as well as what areas will not be effected by these values.
3 - Using an Emmsive map, canvas textures and the THREE.Color.getStyle method
Getting into emissive maps might be a little off topic from the THREE.Color class, but yet again maybe not as it might prove to serve as a way to demonstrate a use case example for the get style method of THREE.Color. This get style method will return a string value like ‘rgb(255,0,0)‘ from an instance of the color class like this new THREE.Color(1, 0, 0). So I can use the THREE.Color class not just for properties of materials and the scene object, but also to set the value of a style for an instance of the 2d drawing context of a canvas when creating a texture with a canvas element.
Anyway when it comes to setting a fill style or stroke style I can not just use the THREE.Color object directly, however I can call the get style method of a THREE.Color instance and then use the resulting string to set such a value.
4 - Background and Fog
Another use case example of the THREE.Color constructor would be to set the background color and or a fog color. When doing so I typically will want to make the background color the same as the fog color, and I will also want to use the fog color for the color property of materials also. So it would make sense to have some kind of global, or constant local variable that is a fog color variable and set the color for that once with the THREE.Color Constructor. Then use that values for the scene.background property, as well as the value to pass to THREE.fogExp2 to create the value for scene.fog, and to use the color for mesh materials.
In this example I am now making use of a loop that make used of the requestiAnimationFrame method to call the render function of the web gl render over and over again. Each time I do so I update some things when it comes to the position and rotation of the box object. The effect is then that the box will disappear as it moves away from the camera and will gradually appear again as it comes back in range of the camera. When doing so I am using th set method of the vector3 instance when it comes to the position of the box, and a similar set method for the Euler instance when it comes to setting rotation. These classes are also worth checking out in detail if you have not done so before hand.
5 - Random Color example
Now for a random color example, for this I made a few helper method one of which is of course a random color helper. In there I just need to call Math.random for red, green and blue values of the THREE.Color Constructor. At least that is all I need to do in order to have a full range of possibles when it comes to random colors.
I also have a similar method when it comes to creating a random position to pace a box object, with this one I am creating an instance of Vector3 and then using the instance of vector three as an argument to be passed to the Vector3 copy method later in the source code when creating a group of box objects.
When it comes to some kind of simple random color example such as this there are a great number of things that I might want to change when it comes to creating random colors. However for the most part it might be just playing around with the expressions that are used to create a color.
6 - Mutation of color value over time
So I have covered some example that have to do with creating an instance of color, and using that color when it comes to things like setting the background color of a scene object, or colors that can be used when drawing to a canvas element to be used for a texture in an emissive map. Now I am thinking that I will wan to make at least one of not more examples that have to do with mutation of a color object instance over time.
7 - Color add and equals methods
In this example I am using the add method of a color class instance of each material or each mesh in a group of mesh objects. I just get a reference to the material that I am using for a mesh, and then I can call the add method of that color to add the values of another instance of THREE.Color to that color. I can also use the equals method to find out of a color is fully white or not, and of so I can set a new random color using a random color helper.
8 - For Pix method using Data Textures and THREE.Color
By default the forPix function will use the Seeded Random method of the Math utils object in threejs as a way to get a value between 0 and 255 that I then set for each color channel using the set rgb method of the color class.
Well I think that might be it for now at least when it comes to the THREE.Color constructor in three.js until I get around to editing this post. There is not just setting solid color values though when it comes to everything that has to do with color in three.js though. There is a great deal more to write about when it comes to color and the various types of texture maps there are to work with when ti comes to creating a material for example. With an alpha map for example I want to set the colors of the various pixels to colors that are gray scale rather than solid colors as gray scale colors are what are used to set levels of transparency for the alpha map. When creating a texture for a mesh I might often use a canvas element, so setting the color values for the texture might not make use of the THREE.Color constrictor but that is never the less one of many additional little details that have to do with color in threejs.