Glitter sparkles are simulated with JavaScript for the 2D screen surface of a mobile phone. The rotation of the phone causes the individual glints to appear and disappear; as would be the case for an actual glittery surface.


Snow sparkle is harder than you think […]
Decent solution: Use 3D position to index 3D noise function, add the view vector, use frac function to further randomize things

When there are fewer particles than in the previously considered snow example, a more detailed treatment is advantageous:

To understand the behavior of glitter patterns, consider a surface sprinkled with flakes and illuminated by an area source. Each flake has a position and a normal, and some reflect the light to produce glints. This happens when a flake’s position is inside the pixel’s footprint on the surface and its normal vector is halfway between the view direction and the direction to some point on the light.
For example, on an ornament covered in craft glitter, there are relatively few flakes with normals broadly distributed, so if the light source is small the average number of glints per pixel is much less than 1, leading to occasional, widely separated glints.

Thus, the flakes can be treated as tiny mirrors reflecting a light source when they are in the right aliment.


The implementation uses JavaScript and the DeviceOrientation Event to draw to a canvas element.


For the given task of the 2D surface only its orientation is considered and the light source and view position is assumed to be fixed. Thus, only the orientation sensors of the phone have to be used.

A distribution of flakes for the rotational angles of the phone can be reproducibly generated by a noise function. This angle is used to look up the flakes with an angle near it. The angle is taken to mean that the direction the perfectly reflected light would take. Thus, the specular reflection for the chosen flakes is calculated. Then the flakes are draw on the screen using the calculated opacity.

The position used for the calculation is slightly varied over time to animate the glitter for stationary situation or when no device orientation can be obtained. The biggest remaining issue for a convincing simulation is, that the eye position is not considered; so moving only ones head does not lead to glints. Also, narrow reflection angles respectively close flakes the two eyes would see different glints for real glitter.

Source Code

The source code is available from GitLab:


  1. Jeremy Shopf Gettin’ Procedural 3D Application Research Group
  2. Wenzel Jakob, Miloš Hašan, Ling-Qi Yan, Jason Lawrence, Ravi Ramamoorthi, and Steve Marschner. 2014. Discrete Stochastic Microfacet Models. In ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH) 33(4). 115:1–115:10.