Posts Tagged ‘blur’

Gaussian blur on an HTML5 canvas

I’m actually going to present more than the actual gaussian blur implementation, also showing how to setup a simple animation controller and lightweight pixel shader system, allowing for defining the final color of a pixel on a per-pixel basis and allowing other effects to easily be plugged into the system. Be warned, this stuff is slow. This is all CPU processing (atop JavaScript no-less), there’s, sadly, no GPU hardware acceleration here. If your thinking about doing this on high-resolution images or writing effects that require a ton of passes over the image, you’re going bring the browser to a crawl, even on a fairly high-end system.

gaussian blur on HTML5 canvas element

I can’t embed JavaScript within this post, so you’ll have to go here to view the result (obviously, you’ll need an HTML 5 capable browser). For those who are curious, the very cool test image used is of a bird of paradise flower by the Agricultural Research Service.

So, first things first, the HTML, which is very simple. There’s 2 canvas element, one will hold the source image and the other will be the destination for the post-processed image. The width and height attributes on the canvas elements are set to the width and height of the image.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>HTML5 Blur FX</title>

script type="text/javascript">
// JS code will go here!

<canvas id="cvs-source" width="72" height="50">

<canvas id="cvs-dest" width="72" height="50">

Next, load the test image onto the source canvas (cvs-source) and setup the destination canvas (cvs-dest) as a blank image, which will occur when the page is loaded. Ignore the reference to the FXController object for now.

window.onload = function ()
var img = new Image();
img.onload =
function ()
// setup source
var ctxSource = document.getElementById('cvs-source').getContext('2d');
ctxSource.drawImage(img, 0, 0);

// setup destination
var cvsElement = document.getElementById('cvs-dest');
var ctxDest = cvsElement.getContext('2d');

var width = parseInt(cvsElement.getAttribute("width"));
var height = parseInt(cvsElement.getAttribute("height"));

ctxDest.createImageData(width, height);

var theShader = Shader.gaussBlur;
var fxCtrlr = new FXController(ctxSource, ctxDest, theShader, width, height, 10, 10);

img.src =

Stepping away from the actual code for a minute, it’s important to note how to actually modify the pixels on a canvas element:

  • Get the 2d context of the element by calling getContext(‘2d’) on the DOM element.
  • Call CanvasRenderingContext2D.getImageData(…) to get a buffer with the pixels in RGBA format.
  • To commit changes to the pixels onto a canvas, call CanvasRenderingContext2D.putImageData(…) with the buffer of modified pixels.
var ctxSource = document.getElementById('cvs-source').getContext('2d');
var imageData = ctxSource.getImageData(0, 0, width, height);

ctxDest.putImageData(bufWrite, 0, 0);

Back to the actual code. One of the very simple and primitive operations needed is to set a pixel to a color:

// GraphicsCore object
var GraphicsCore = {};
GraphicsCore.setPixel =
function (imageData, index, r, g, b, a)
{[index + 0] = r;[index + 1] = g;[index + 2] = b;[index + 3] = a;

I didn’t implement a corresponding getPixel() function because, as you’ll see, it’s very clean and easy to get the a pixel directly from the buffer and wasn’t worth invoking a function call.

The FXController object is (for the most part) the animation controller.

// FXController object
function FXController(_ctxSource, _ctxDest, _theShader, _width, _height, _fps, _maxFrames)
this.ctxSource = _ctxSource;
this.ctxDest = _ctxDest;
this.theShader = _theShader;
this.width = _width;
this.height = _height;
this.fps = _fps;
this.curFrame = 1; // [1, ...]
this.maxFrames = _maxFrames;
this.numPassesPerFrame = _theShader.numPassesRequired;
this.invervalPtr = null;

this.shaderFunc = function (fxCtrlr, passNum, frameNum, maxFrames)
{, fxCtrlr.ctxDest, fxCtrlr.width, fxCtrlr.height, fxCtrlr.theShader, passNum, frameNum, maxFrames);

this.init = function ()
var fxCtrlr = this;
var runFunc = function () {; }

this.invervalPtr = setInterval(runFunc, 1000.0 / this.fps);

this.unInit = function()
this.invervalPtr = null;
} = function (sender /*FXController*/)
for (var pn = 1; pn <= sender.numPassesPerFrame; pn++) {
sender.shaderFunc(sender, pn, sender.curFrame, sender.maxFrames);

if (sender.curFrame > sender.maxFrames) {

Most of what going on here is simply holding values which are passed to…). However, a few important things are being setup:

  •…) will be called at a certain number of frames per seconds (this.fps), until this.maxFrames is hit.
  • For each frame,…) will be called for each pass necessary (this.numPassesPerFrame). Certain effects will require more passes than other, for example, the gaussian blur implementation will require 2 passes.

The Shader object, the core of which is within…),

// Shader object
// Note: Shader.<shader_name>.numPassesRequired must be defined
var Shader = {}; =
function (ctxSource, ctxDest, width, height, shaderFunc, passNum, frameNum, maxFrames)
//"UniversalBrowserRead"); // REMOVE ME BEFORE DEPLOYMENT

var bufWrite = ctxDest.getImageData(0, 0, width, height);

var imageData = null;
if (passNum == 1 && frameNum == 1) {
imageData = ctxSource.getImageData(0, 0, width, height);
else {
imageData = ctxDest.getImageData(0, 0, width, height);

for (var y = 0; y < height; y++) {

for (var x = 0; x < width; x++) {

var index = (x + y * imageData.width) << 2;
shaderFunc(imageData, bufWrite, index, x, y,[index + 0],[index + 1],[index + 2],[index + 3], passNum, frameNum, maxFrames);

ctxDest.putImageData(bufWrite, 0, 0);

(The UniversalBrowserRead privilege is necessary to run this locally in Firefox)…) will setup the source and destination buffers, iterate over every pixel, compute the pixel index, get the pixel color, call shaderFunc(…) with all the necessary params, and finally commit any changes to the destination buffer (bufWrite). Note, the source canvas is only used for the first frame, first pass; in all other cases whatever is rendered on the destination canvas is used. This allows for certain effects (such as the gaussian blur) in which the effect can be progressively applied again and again, in a feedback loop, to produce updated iterations of the effect (in the case of a gaussian blur, the image is blurred more and more).

The code presented so far lays the framework to allow for writing a shader, plugging it into the system, and watching the result. Before, getting to the more complex gaussian blur filter, here’s a much simpler one: a single-pass, per-pixel image fade-in.

// fade in shader
Shader.fadeInShader =
function (imageData, bufWrite, index, x, y, r, g, b, a, passNum, frameNum, maxFrames)
var dt = frameNum/maxFrames; // [0, 1]
GraphicsCore.setPixel(bufWrite, index, r, g, b, dt * 255);
Shader.fadeInShader.numPassesRequired = 1;

(Shader..numPassesRequired is required for every shader, as FXController will query the value to determine how many times to call…) per frame.)

The shader function allows us to define what the final color of a pixel will be, given a set of input parameters, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, the core of what a pixel shader system is and allowing for a amazing degree of flexibility.

Finally, the gaussian blur shader. I won’t go into too many details here. If you’re interested in how a guassian blur is actually done, this article on is probably the best out there (esp. for transitioning from theory to practice), and the code here is almost a direct translation of what’s up there. Also note that bitshifts are used to do the power-of-2 divisions and multiplications.

// gaussian blur filter
Shader.gaussFact = Array(1, 6, 15, 20, 15, 6, 1);
Shader.gaussSum = 64;
// not used, >> 6 bitshift used in Shader.gaussBlur()
Shader.gaussWidth = 7;

Shader.gaussBlur =
function (imageData, bufWrite, index, x, y, r, g, b, a, passNum, frameNum, maxFrames)
if (passNum == 1 && (x <= 0 || x >= imageData.width - 1)) {
GraphicsCore.setPixel(bufWrite, index, r, g, b, a);

if (passNum == 2 && (y <= 0 || y >= imageData.height - 1)) {
GraphicsCore.setPixel(bufWrite, index, r, g, b, a);

var readBuf = imageData;
var writeBuf = bufWrite;

var sumR = 0;
var sumG = 0;
var sumB = 0;
var sumA = 0;

for (var k = 0; k < Shader.gaussWidth; k++) {

var nx = x;
var ny = y;

if (passNum == 1) { nx = (x - ((Shader.gaussWidth - 1) >> 1) + k); }
else if (passNum == 2) { ny = (y - ((Shader.gaussWidth - 1) >> 1) + k); }
else { }

// wrap around if we're trying to read pixels beyond the edge
if (nx < 0) { nx = readBuf.width + nx; }
if (ny < 0) { ny = readBuf.height + ny; }
if (nx >= readBuf.width) { nx = nx - readBuf.width; }
if (ny >= readBuf.height) { ny = ny - readBuf.height; }

var pxi = (nx + ny * readBuf.width) << 2;
var pxR =[pxi];
var pxG =[pxi + 1];
var pxB =[pxi + 2];
var pxA =[pxi + 3];

// little hack to make alpha=0 pixels look a bit better
// Note, the proper way to handle the alpha channel is to premultiply, blur, "unpremultiply"
if (pxA == 0) {
pxR = 255;
pxG = 255;
pxB = 255;
pxA = 255;

sumR += pxR * Shader.gaussFact[k];
sumG += pxG * Shader.gaussFact[k];
sumB += pxB * Shader.gaussFact[k];
sumA += pxA * Shader.gaussFact[k];

GraphicsCore.setPixel(writeBuf, index, sumR >> 6, sumG >> 6, sumB >> 6, sumA >> 6);
Shader.gaussBlur.numPassesRequired = 2;

The blur is done with a 3×3 convolution filter, over 2 passes. In the first pass, neighboring pixels are sampled and blurred along the x-axis. In the second pass, the same is done along the y-axis.

A few simple conditionals allow for wrapping around and sampling from the other side of the bitmap, if there’s an attempt to sample beyond the edges.

Note the little hack for transparent/translucent pixels; this is not the proper way to do this (and simply makes the error more grey-ish instead of black-ish), but I didn’t want to deal with premultiplying the alpha, so I’ve left it out.

The demo + all code is up @