Alpha Blending

Alpha blending is a process of combining an image with the background to create an appearance of partial or full transparency.

Blending Formula#

To get the resulting color by alpha blending the following formula is used:

Color Res = Color Src * Src + Color Dest * Dest

The ColorSrc corresponds to the polygon color (source image), and ColorDest corresponds to screen buffer color (destination image). The ColorRes is the resulting color.

If a color has an Alpha component that equals to 0, it will be transparent. With Alpha value of 1, the Red, Green and Blue values are added to create a color. To compute the color in semitransparent areas, linear interpolation is used.

As well as the Alpha component, RGB values are also normalized.

Values of Src and Dest Multipliers#

The multipliers Src and Dest can have the following values:

Name Description
None No blending is used
Zero The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by zero
One The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by one
Src color The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by these factors (per component): (mR, mG, mB, mA)
One minus src color The RGBA components of the corresponding color Components of each material color are multiplied by these factors (per component): (1  -   mR, 1   -   mG, 1   -   mB, 1   -   mA)
Src alpha The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by mA
One minus src alpha The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by 1  -   mA
Dest color The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by these factors (per component): (bR, bG, bB, bA)
One minus dest color The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by these factors (per component): (1  -   bR, 1   -   bG, 1   -   bB, 1   -   bA)
Dest alpha The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by bA
One minus dest alpha The RGBA components of the corresponding color are multiplied by 1  -   bA

Where mR, mG, mB, mA are normalized material red, green, blue, and alpha values correspondingly;
bR, bG, bB, bA are normalized background red, green, blue, and alpha values correspondingly.

Possible Combinations#

Depending on the combination of the multipliers Src and Dest, the following effects are achieved:

1#

Src = None
Dest = None
Means there is no alpha blending for the material. The object is rendered completely opaque.

No alpha blending. A base for all further blending combinations

2#

Src = One
Dest = One minus Src alpha
Result: Alpha blending

• Opaque (alpha =  1) areas receive material color.
• Transparent (alpha =  0) areas receive screen buffer color.
The combination is used to create the effect of transparency basing on the alpha component.

Alpha blended particles

3#

Src = Src alpha
Dest = One minus Src alpha
Result: Standard alpha blending

• Opaque areas receive material color, but they are darker and smaller in size, if compared to the previous variant.
• Transparent areas receive the screen buffer color.

Standard alpha blending. Notice the dark fringe

4#

Src = Src color
Dest = One minus Src alpha
Result:

• Opaque areas are also small and even darker and more contrast, if compared to the second and third variants.
• Transparent areas receive the screen buffer color.

5#

Src = Src color
Dest = One minus Src color
Result:

• Opaque areas are small and of the inverted color.
• Transparent areas receive the screen buffer color.
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

6#

Src = Src alpha
Dest = One

• In overlapping opaque areas, the material color is added to itself. The areas are very small in size.
• Transparent areas receive screen buffer color.
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

7#

Src = Src color
Dest = Dest alpha
Result: almost the same as the previous variant, but a little less bright and of less distinct material color

8#

Src = One
Dest = One

• In overlapping opaque areas the material color is added to itself.
• Transparent areas receive the screen buffer color.
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.
This combination can be used to create halation, particles systems, and volume lights. In this blending mode, the darker the color of the object is, the more transparent it is visualized. By overlaying a lot of layers, overlighting occurs.

9#

Src = Zero
Dest = Src color

Src = Dest color
Dest = Zero

Result (for both variants): Multiplication

• Opaque areas receive screen buffer color multiplied by the material color.
• Transparent areas are black.
If all the material is semitransparent, this combination can be used to create the colored glass.

10#

Src = One minus Src color
Dest = Dest alpha
Result:

• With a non-white color, a completely opaque area seems small and receives the inverted color. In the area of alpha gradient fading, it changes into the summed color. Layers overlapping causes intensification of the color.
• If the diffuse material color is white, completely opaque core areas receive screen buffer color that changes into the summed color as alpha gradient fades.
• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.
• Changing the diffuse color multiplier changes the size of the core areas (ring size on the illustration).
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

Material diffuse color multipliers: 1 (on the left) and 1.5 (on the right)
If the diffuse material color is white, the opaque core is of the screen buffer color. The diffuse color multiplier equals 1.5

11#

Src = One minus Src color
Dest = One minus Src color
Result: similar to the previous combination, with the following exceptions:

• With a non-white color, a completely opaque area that receives the inverted color seems bigger in size and darker. In the area of alpha gradient fading, the material color appears dull, tint, and barely visible.
• If the diffuse material color is white, completely opaque core areas receive black color that changes into the summed inverted color as alpha gradient fades.

And the following characteristics remain the same:

• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.
• Changing the diffuse color multiplier changes the size of core areas (ring size on the illustration).
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

Material diffuse color multipliers: 1 (on the left) and 1.5 (on the right)
If the diffuse material color is white, the inverted opaque core is black

12#

Src = One minus Dest color
Dest = Dest Alpha
Result:

• Opaque areas are bright and of diffuse material color hue.
• The darker the screen buffer color, the more saturated the material color is.
• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

13#

Src = One minus Dest color
Dest = One minus Src alpha
Result:

• In overlapping areas, inversion of the screen buffer color becomes more and more visible with increasing the number of layers.
• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.

14#

Src = One minus Dest color
Dest = One minus Src color
Result:

• In overlapping areas, the color is changed from the inverted to the background color and back again.
• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.
• Completely black diffuse material color will result in rendering in screen buffer color.

15#

Src = Dest color
Dest = Dest alpha
Result:

• This combination is more suitable for materials of white or bright (of high value) diffuse colors. Otherwise, the material color tint is not visible.
• Transparent areas are of the screen buffer color.

16#

Src = Dest color
Dest = Dest color
Result:

• Opaque areas receive the summed color of material and screen buffer.
• Transparent areas are of the multiplied screen color — darker and more saturated.
• In overlapping areas, the material color of both opaque and transparent (according to alpha component) areas is intensified.

Last update: 2019-04-30