Examples » Your First Triangle

Basic rendering with builtin shaders.


The Hello World of 3D graphics, rendering a single colored triangle using OpenGL.

Continuing from the Getting Started Guide, where we used basically just the Platform::Sdl2Application class and cleared the GL::DefaultFramebuffer, we'll now additionally need a GL::Mesh for encapsulating our triangle, a GL::Buffer to store vertex data, and a Shaders::VertexColorGL2D shader which will take care of rendering.

#include <Magnum/GL/Buffer.h>
#include <Magnum/GL/DefaultFramebuffer.h>
#include <Magnum/GL/Mesh.h>
#include <Magnum/Math/Color.h>
#include <Magnum/Platform/Sdl2Application.h>
#include <Magnum/Shaders/VertexColorGL.h>

The subclassed application looks very similar, only additionally containing the shader and a mesh instance. These are kept as class members as we'll reuse them every time the window gets redrawn. You can read about Magnum's platform abstractions in more detail in Platform support.

class TriangleExample: public Platform::Application {
        explicit TriangleExample(const Arguments& arguments);

        void drawEvent() override;

        GL::Mesh _mesh;
        Shaders::VertexColorGL2D _shader;

In the constructor we'll pass an optional Configuration parameter that allows us to set a window title and other window-related things; similarly there's also GLConfiguration for OpenGL-specific options such as multisampling.

TriangleExample::TriangleExample(const Arguments& arguments):
    Platform::Application{arguments, Configuration{}
        .setTitle("Magnum Triangle Example")}

Next we write out the mesh data, consisting of a position and color attribute, in a counterclockwise order. While it makes little difference at the scale we have here, a common practice is to interleave the attributes so each vertex is a single contiguous piece of memory. To save ourselves typing, we use hexadecimal color literals from the Math::Literals namespace. See Math type system for more information about scalar and vector types provided by Magnum.

    using namespace Math::Literals;

    struct TriangleVertex {
        Vector2 position;
        Color3 color;
    const TriangleVertex vertices[]{
        {{-0.5f, -0.5f}, 0xff0000_rgbf},    /* Left vertex, red color */
        {{ 0.5f, -0.5f}, 0x00ff00_rgbf},    /* Right vertex, green color */
        {{ 0.0f,  0.5f}, 0x0000ff_rgbf}     /* Top vertex, blue color */

Onto configuring the GL::Mesh. It's MeshPrimitive::Triangles by default, which already matches our need, so we only need to the vertex count to size of the data array. Then we upload the data to a GL::Buffer and directly pass it to GL::Mesh::addVertexBuffer(). This effectively makes the mesh take over the buffer instance and manage its lifetime for us, instead of us having to ensure the buffer is kept in scope for as long as the mesh is used.

The remaining arguments to the function are — zero offset from the beginning of the buffer, then first the position as the Shaders::VertexColorGL2D::Position attribute and then a three-component Shaders::VertexColorGL2D::Color3. As our data types match the types expected by these attributes, using default constructors is sufficient. Consult the GL::Mesh documentation for more information about attribute data types and vertex buffer layouts.

         .addVertexBuffer(GL::Buffer{vertices}, 0,

The drawEvent() function now performs an actual rendering after clearing the default framebuffer, and then again swaps the buffers to make the rendering appear on the screen.

void TriangleExample::drawEvent() {



Lastly, we need a main() function. It's supplied by the MAGNUM_APPLICATION_MAIN() macro, which will also cover any platform differences for us:


That's all, now we can compile the whole example using CMake. Continuing from the Getting Started Guide, the only addition is finding & linking the Magnum::Shaders library that's now being used as well:

find_package(Corrade REQUIRED Main)
find_package(Magnum REQUIRED GL Shaders Sdl2Application)


add_executable(magnum-triangle WIN32 TriangleExample.cpp)
target_link_libraries(magnum-triangle PRIVATE

You can now try adding more triangles or changing the vertex data to see how the shader behaves. The full file content is linked below. Full source code is also available in the magnum-examples GitHub repository.

The ports branch contains additional patches for iOS, Android and Emscripten support that aren't present in master in order to keep the example code as simple as possible.