Build in 3D for Android Using LibGDX in Kotlin | by Federico Jordán | Jul, 2022

First steps into the 3D area

Photograph by Amokrane Ait-Kaci on Unsplash

Have you ever ever thought of constructing one thing in 3D for cellular?

What about doing it multi-platform?

After all, we all know that there are various native options. As an example, you should utilize SceneKit if you wish to construct for iOS or possibly Vulkan on Android. However the thought is to construct it as soon as and deploy each targets. Additionally, desktop or internet if we wish.

The framework I select to play with second or 3d graphics is LibGDX. So what it’s precisely? It’s only a wrapper round OpenGL low-level APIs. It has an incredible group, and there are various articles and tutorials across the internet.

What about different graphics multi-platforms instruments? Properly, in my view, I desire LibGDX as a result of you have got all of it within the code. There are different choices, I do know, however these you mix a form of script with a nonoptional GUI system. Perhaps you are able to do all of it by code, however that’s not the concept right here. With LibGDX, you need to do all of it by code, and I feel that you just study a bit extra and have extra management about what you need to do

To start out a brand new LibGDX venture, we should go to the project generation page and obtain the Secure Launch installer.

In the mean time of writing this text, the steady model will set up LibGDX 1.10.0

This may obtain a gdx-setup_latest.jar file. Click on on it

(In case you’re on macOS and skilled an issue opening the file, simply enable it from System Preferences -> Safety & Privateness)

In case you open the instrument, you’ll see a dialog like this:

LibGDX setup instrument

Let’s full the data:

  • Identify: Identify of the venture. In my case shall be LibGDX3DTest
  • Package deal: This’ll be the package deal identify in Android or the bundle identifier in iOS
  • Recreation class: Major class and begin level of the LibGDX app
  • Vacation spot: The place the venture shall be situated
  • Android SDK: Default vacation spot for android SDK
  • Sub Tasks: Right here, we’ll use simply Android and iOS by now
  • Extensions: Nobody for now. If we need to simulate physics sooner or later, we’ll want Box2d if it’s a 2D venture or Bullet for a 3D one. These are LibGDX wrappers to not mess with the unique SDK.
Ultimate settings

One other factor is that we have to allow Kotlin to apply it to this venture. In any other case, it will likely be generated simply to make use of Java. Faucet on Superior, and there may be the setting:

Allow “Use Kotlin” and faucet on save

Let’s faucet on Generate, and it’ll create the venture within the desired folder.

Extra details about producing a LibGDX venture here

Now we have to open the venture in Android Studio. I’m presently utilizing AS 2020.3.1, however shouldn’t be any drawback with a more recent model.

Run the venture in Android Studio. It ought to present the next display:

First display of a LibGDX app

The app will present a pink display with the unique brand of the outdated proprietor of LibGDX, BadLogicGames.

We are able to change the app orientation within the AndroidManifest.xml file, within the android:screenOrientation property, setting it to portrait as an alternative of panorama :

Display screen at “portrait” mode

Earlier than begin drawing a primary dice on our display, we’ll eliminate all of the code in LibGDX3DTest.kt file:

LibGDX setup creates a Java file, however since we’ll use Kotlin, we delete the file and substitute with this LibGDX3DTest.kt file.

LibGDX apps usually run with an implementation of the ApplicationListener interface, however on this case, we’ll use a category known as ApplicationAdapter, which implements ApplicationListener interface and allow us to eliminate some unused strategies. That’s why we override simply the strategies we want.

This primary instance accommodates three LibGDX lifecycle strategies:

  • create(): Technique known as as soon as when the applying is created. Used to create the entire setting for our app/sport
  • render(): Technique known as by the sport loop from the applying each time rendering must be carried out. Recreation logic updates are normally additionally carried out on this technique.
  • dispose(): Known as when the applying is destroyed.
Full stream diagram of a LibGDX utility lifecycle

Different strategies are being known as in a LibGDX utility run. Extra details about the entire lifecycle here

On this minimal instance, we create two variables in our LibGDX3DTest class:

  • lateinit var batch: SpriteBatch
  • lateinit var img: Texture


Due to the best way OpenGL works, it’s best to group or “batch” draw calls collectively to get the optimum efficiency. A SpriteBatch is a Batch which is used for drawing Sprites. Extra particularly, it offers with drawing a bunch of textures on Quads in OpenGL.

This grouping is why you’ll get an error when you strive to attract to a Batch with out first calling batch.start() as this indicators the Batch to start out the work of grouping draw calls. If you name draw() on a batch, it is not doing the work of drawing but, it is just organizing the info you give it. It would wait to attract to the display till batch.finish() is named.

On the finish, we name batch.dispose() to free the reminiscence allotted for that particular useful resource.

Reference to the supply code here


A Texture wraps a regular OpenGL ES texture. A Texture could be managed. If the OpenGL context is misplaced, all managed textures get invalidated. This occurs when a person switches to a different utility or receives an incoming name. Managed textures get reloaded mechanically.

In our instance, we use a LibGDX texture from a file known as badlogic.jpg, which is being allotted in reminiscence, used inside the batch, and at last disposed of reminiscence when the lifecycle ends.

Reference to the supply code here


In our instance, we use the ScreenUtils.clear technique to clear the entire display, with a pink background. We are able to change its coloration if we alter that technique’s values. At the moment, possibly there is no such thing as a must do it, but when we might have an animated sprite, we would want to clear the display to keep away from seeing the earlier animation frames.

Reference to the ScreenUtils supply code here.

Now that we perceive the fundamentals of a LibGDX utility, we’ll proceed with the 3D drawing.

We’ll replace the LibGDX3DTest.kt file with the next:

This specific code will give us the next display:

Let’s see how this code works. I’ve organized the code in strategies to make it simpler to grasp.

To start with, we’ll evaluation the brand new parts that we utilizing now:

  • PerspectiveCamera: It would give us the imaginative and prescient of the 3D scene. We are able to alter place, orientation, and vary. Reference here.
  • ModelBatch: Just like the SpriteBatch however for a 3D rendering. Reference here
  • Mannequin: It is a reference to a specific mannequin that we need to render. Accommodates details about vertex knowledge, texture mapping, and extra. Reference here.
  • ModelInstance: Makes use of a Mannequin reference to create an precise occasion with that particular knowledge. In our instance, if we’d need to create many cubes, we’ll use one Mannequin and lots of ModelInstance situations. Reference here.
  • Surroundings: It helps us to arrange the lights to see higher the 3D world. Reference here.

The method of rendering that dice is well defined with the strategies’ names:


  1. We create the PerspectiveCamera and alter the place and vary of imaginative and prescient
  2. Then we create the ModelBatch, the Mannequin and the ModelInstance which can use that Mannequin
  3. Lastly, we create the Surroundings with a selected gentle kind, DirectionalLight with its respective place, orientation, and coloration.


  1. To start with, we clear the display with a black coloration
  2. Each time the render is carried out (FPS fee will depend on the {hardware}), we spin the digital camera in a random route
  3. We have to replace the digital camera’s place for each render body
  4. A very powerful half is rendering the content material of the ModelBatch in display, for a given ModelInstance and an Surroundings


Right here we lastly free reminiscence assets for the ModelBatch and the dice Mannequin

We’ll add the next code to our venture, associated to the CameraInputController, and take away the spinCamera() technique to cease computerized transferring:

class LibGDX3DTest: ApplicationAdapter() {
non-public lateinit var cameraInputController: CameraInputController
override enjoyable create()

non-public enjoyable updateCamera()
digital camera.replace()


Right here is the entire code:

A CameraInputController will delegate the digital camera motion to the contact/swipe gestures of the person on the display. So simple as that. That’s why we will now transfer the dice as we wish within the app. On this instance, we do it with the cursor since we’re utilizing the Android Emulator:

Now that we all know the fundamentals of 3D rendering with LibGDX, we will proceed with the subsequent step: Drawing a Blender mannequin.

What’s Blender?

Blender is a free and open supply 3D creation software program. It helps the whole thing of the 3D pipeline — modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and movement monitoring, and even video modifying and sport creation.

We’ll use a Blender-made mannequin to get a format that LibGDX helps rendering. I’ve chosen a automotive mannequin from this page. The file we have to obtain is R8 Low Poly Mannequin.fbx.

This specific file must be transformed right into a .g3dj file with this specific tool. The command shall be one thing like this:

./fbx-conv -v ../mannequin.fbx mannequin.g3dj

This may create a .g3dj file prepared to make use of in our LibGDX utility.

In our venture, we’ll want to exchange this line:

cubeModel = modelBuilder.createBox(2f, 2f, 2f, materials, attributes)

with that one:

carModel = G3dModelLoader(JsonReader()).loadModel(Gdx.information.inner("mannequin.g3dj"))

So we will generate the Mannequin knowledge from the .g3dj file. That file shall be added within the belongings folder:

We additionally alter the digital camera to totally see the automotive mannequin.

The ultimate code shall be one thing like this:

And right here is the demo of the automotive rendering:

The unhealthy decision is as a result of the MOV to GIF converter instrument I’ve used 😛

Utilizing LibGDX with Kotlin is an easy technique to experiment with 2D and 3D rendering. With just a few strains, we will begin rendering objects on our cellular display in a straightforward method.

In additional articles, I’ll present the way to compile on an iOS machine, the way to use Box2D to simulate physics, and far more.

Thanks for studying!

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