Render targets

Before we can actually render an object, we must also specify a render target which will serve as a surface to render the output to. We already covered render target creation in Windows and Offscreen rendering manuals. The only difference is that in those manuals we used a Camera component to set the target, and relied on the renderer to make use of it.

In this chapter we'll show how to manually bind a render target for rendering, as well as some other render target related operations.


Use ct::RenderAPI::setRenderTarget() to bind a render target for rendering.

SPtr<RenderTarget> target = ...; // Create a RenderTexture or RenderWindow as described in earlier chapters
RenderAPI& rapi = RenderAPI::instance();

This will bind the entirety of the render target surface for rendering. If you just want to render to a portion of the target you can also call ct::RenderAPI::setViewport(). It accepts a 2D rectangle whose coordinates should be in [0, 1] range and it specifies in which portion of the render target should rendering occurr.

// Render to the center of the render target, at 50% of its size
RenderAPI& rapi = RenderAPI::instance();
rapi.setViewport(Rect2(0.25f, 0.25f, 0.5f, 0.5f));

Advanced binding

ct::RenderAPI::setRenderTarget() also has a couple of parameters to control more advanced behaviour:

  • readOnlyDepthStencil - Guarantees that the depth/stencil portion of the render target will not be written to. This allows the depth/stencil texture to be bound both as a render target, as well as a normal GPU program input.
  • loadMask - Mask described by RenderSurfaceMaskBits which controls if current contents of any of the render target surfaces should be preserved. By default the system doesn't guarantee the contents will be preserved and data is instead undefined. In certain cases (like blending operations) you want to preserve the contents, in which case specify the necessary flags to tell the system which surfaces need their contents preserved.
// Bind a render target with read-only depth/stencil, and preserve the existing contents of depth-stencil buffer on bind
RenderAPI& rapi = RenderAPI::instance();
rapi.setRenderTarget(target, true, RT_DEPTH);


Usually a render target will be re-used many times. Unless you are sure that every use will completely overwrite the render target contents, it can be beneficial (and in some cases necessary) to clear the render target to some value. Call ct::RenderAPI::clearRenderTarget() to clear the currently bound render target.

The first parameter represents a FrameBufferType of which portions of the target to clear. Second, third and fourth parameters represent the clear values for the color, depth and stencil surfaces, respectively. In case you want to clear only a specific color surface (in case they are multiple), you can use the fifth parameter as a bitmask of which color surfaces to clear.

// Clear color and depth surfaces. All color surfaces are cleared to blue color, while depth is cleared to the value of 1
RenderAPI& rapi = RenderAPI::instance();
rapi.clearRenderTarget(FBT_COLOR | FBT_DEPTH, Color::Blue, 1, 0, 0xFF);

You can also call ct::RenderAPI::clearViewport() to clear only the viewport portion of the render target. The parameters are identical to ct::RenderAPI::clearRenderTarget().

Clearing the depth buffer is especially important as the GPU will read its contents during rendering, and having old data in the depth buffer pretty much guarantees your rendering will not be valid.


If a render target is a RenderWindow you must call ct::RenderAPI::swapBuffers() after rendering. This is because windows are usually double or triple buffered, meaning the rendering happens to a hidden buffer invisible to the user. When ct::RenderAPI::swapBuffers() is called this hidden buffer is presented to the user.

SPtr<RenderWindow> window;
// ... draw something ...