geometry

Note: This documentation is for the old 0.5.0 version of A-Frame. Check out the documentation for the current 1.6.0 version

The geometry component provides a basic shape for an entity. The primitive property defines the general shape. Geometric primitives, in computer graphics, are irreducible basic shapes. A material component is commonly defined to provide a appearance alongside the shape to create a complete mesh.

Base Properties

Every geometry type will have these properties:

Property Description Default Value
buffer Transform geometry into a BufferGeometry to reduce memory usage at the cost of being harder to manipulate. true
mergeTo A selector to an entity to merge the entity’s geometry to. None
primitive Name of a geometry (e.g., one of the geometries listed below). Determines the geometry type and what other properties are available. box
skipCache Disable retrieving the shared geometry object from the cache. false

mergeTo

Merging geometries reduces the number of draw calls, greatly improving performance under certain circumstances. Merged geometries will inherit the material of the target geometry. Thus, it’s useful when we have entities that share the same material.

Once merged, we can no longer manipulate the individual geometry independently.

For geometry merging to be able to work, we will have to turn off buffer and turn on skipCache.

Built-in Geometries

box

The box geometry defines boxes (i.e., any quadilateral, not just cubes).

Property Description Default Value
width Width (in meters) of the sides on the X axis. 1
height Height (in meters) of the sides on the Y axis. 1
depth Depth (in meters) of the sides on the Z axis. 1

circle

The circle geometry creates flat two-dimensional circles. These can be complete circles or partial circles (like Pac-Man). Note that because circles are flat, A-Frame will only render a single face of the circle if we don’t specify side: double on the material component.

Property Description Default Value
segments Number of triangles to construct the circle, like pizza slices. A higher number of segments means the circle will be more round. 32
thetaStart Start angle for first segment. Can be used to define a partial circle. 0
thetaLength The central angle (in degrees). Defaults to 360, which makes for a complete circle. 360

thetaLength and thetaStart Properties

In degrees, thetaStart defines where to start a circle or arc and thetaLength defines where a circle or arc ends. If we wanted to make a ( shape, we would start the circle halfway through and define the length as half of a circle. We can do this with thetaStart: 180; thetaLength: 180. Or if we wanted to make a ) shape, we can do thetaStart: 0; thetaLength: 180.

Useful cases might be to animating thetaStart to create a spinner effect or animating thetaLength on a fuse-based cursor for visual feedback.

cone

The cone geometry is a cylinder geometry that have different top and bottom radii.

Property Description Default Value
height Height of the cone. 2
openEnded Whether the ends of the cone are open (true) or capped (false). false
segmentsRadial Number of segmented faces around the circumference of the cone. 36
segmentsHeight Number of rows of faces along the height of the cone. 18
thetaStart Starting angle in degrees. 0
thetaLength Central angle in degrees. 360

cylinder

The cylinder geometry creates cylinders in the traditional sense like a Coca-Cola™ can, but it can also define shapes such as tubes and curved surfaces.

We can create a basic cylinder using height and radius:

We can create a tube by making the cylinder open-ended, which removes the top and bottom surfaces of the cylinder such that the inside is visible. Then we need a double-sided material to render properly:

We can create a cured surfaces by specifying the arc via thetaLength such that the cylinder doesn’t curve all the way around, making the cylinder open-ended, and then making the material double-sided:

Property Description Default Value
height Height of the cylinder. 2
segmentsRadial Number of segmented faces around the circumference of the cylinder. 36
segmentsHeight Number of rows of faces along the height of the cylinder. 18
openEnded Whether the ends of the cylinder are open (true) or capped (false). false
thetaStart Starting angle in degrees. 0
thetaLength Central angle in degrees. 360

We can create prisms by changing the number of radial segments (i.e., sides). For example, to make a hexagonal prism:

dodecahedron

The dodecahedron geometry creates a polygon with twelve equally-sized faces.

Property Description Default Value

octahedron

The octahedron geometry creates a polygon with eight equilateral triangular faces.

Property Description Default Value

plane

The plane geometry creates a flat surface. Because planes are flat, A-Frame will render only a single face of the plane unless we specify side: double on the material component.

Property Description Default Value
width Width along the X axis. 1
height Height along the Y axis. 1

ring

The ring geometry creates a flat ring, like a CD. Because the ring is flat, A-Frame will only render a single face of the ring we specify side: double the material component.

Property Description Default Value
segmentsTheta Number of segments. A higher number means the ring will be more round. 32
segmentsPhi Number of triangles within each face defined by segmentsTheta. 8
thetaStart Starting angle in degrees. 0
thetaLength Central angle in degrees. 360

sphere

The sphere geometry creates spheres (e.g., balls). We can create a basic sphere:

We can create polyhedrons and abstract shapes by specifying the number of horizontal angles and faces:

Property Description Default Value
segmentsWidth Number of horizontal segments. 18
segmentsHeight Number of vertical segments. 36
phiStart Horizontal starting angle. 0
phiLength Horizontal sweep angle size. 360
thetaStart Vertical starting angle. 0
thetaLength Vertical sweep angle size. 360

tetrahedron

The tetrahedron geometry creates a polygon with four triangular faces.

Property Description Default Value

torus

The torus geometry creates a donut or curved tube shape:

Property Description Default Value
segmentsRadial Number of segments along the circumference of the tube ends. A higher number means the tube will be more round. 36
segmentsTubular Number of segments along the circumference of the tube face. A higher number means the tube will be more round. 32
arc Central angle. 360

torusKnot

The torus knot geometry creates a pretzel shape. A pair of coprime integers, p and q, defines the particular shape of the pretzel. If p and q are not coprime the result will be a torus link:

Property Description Default Value
segmentsRadial Number of segments along the circumference of the tube ends. A higher number means the tube will be more round. 36
segmentsTubular Number of segments along the circumference of the tube face. A higher number means the tube will be more round. 32
p How many times the geometry winds around its axis of rotational symmetry. 2
q How many times the geometry winds around a circle in the interior of the torus. 3

Register a Custom Geometry

We can register our own geometries using AFRAME.registerGeometry and creating an object that is an instance of THREE.Geometry. A-Frame registers all built-in geometries using this API. Here is how A-Frame registers the box geometry:

Like with registering components, we provide a name, a schema that will expose the properties of the geometry, and lifecycle methods. Then we need to create the geometry and set on this.geometry through the init and update lifecycle methods.

When a geometry component sets its primitive property to the custom geometry name, we can set the properties of the custom geometry on the geometry component. Say we registered a custom geometry:

We can then use that custom geometry in HTML: