OpenGL ES Tutorial for Android – Part I – Setting up the view

I have started a new updated serie of tutorials on OpenGL ES 2.0 for android. Check them out at: OpenGL ES 2.0

I’m going to write a couple of tutorials on using OpenGL ES on Android phones. The theory of OpenGL ES is the same on different devices so it should be quite easy to convert them to another platform.

I can’t always remember where I found particular info so I might not always be able to give you the right reference. If you feel that I have borrowed stuff from you but have forgotten to add you as a reference, please e-mail me.

In the code examples I will have two different links for each function. The actual function will be linked to the android documentation and after that I will also link the OpenGL documentations. Like this:

So, let’s start.

In this tutorial I will show you how to set up your OpenGL ES view that’s always a good place to start.

Setting up an OpenGL ES View

Setting up a OpenGL view has never been hard and on Android it is still easy. There really are only two things you need to get started.


GLSurfaceView is a API class in Android 1.5 that helps you write OpenGL ES applications.

  • Providing the glue code to connect OpenGL ES to the View system.
  • Providing the glue code to make OpenGL ES work with the Activity life-cycle.
  • Making it easy to choose an appropriate frame buffer pixel format.
  • Creating and managing a separate rendering thread to enable smooth animation.
  • Providing easy-to-use debugging tools for tracing OpenGL ES API calls and checking for errors.

If you want to get going fast with your OpenGL ES application this is where you should start.

The only function you need to call on is:

Read more at: GLSurfaceView


GLSurfaceView.Renderer is a generic render interface. In your implementation of this renderer you should put all your calls to render a frame.
There are three functions to implement:


Here it’s a good thing to setup things that you don’t change so often in the rendering cycle. Stuff like what color to clear the screen with, enabling z-buffer and so on.


Here is where the actual drawing take place.


If your device supports flipping between landscape and portrait you will get a call to this function when it happens. What you do here is setting upp the new ratio.
Read more at: GLSurfaceView.Renderer

Putting it together

First we create our activity, we keep it clean and simple.

Our renderer takes little bit more work to setup, look at it and I will explain the code a bit more.


Just add this lines in the OpenGLDemo class and you will get fullscreen.

This is pretty much all you need to get your view up and running. If you compile and run it you will see a nice black screen.


The info used in this tutorial is collected from:
Android Developers
OpenGL ES 1.1 Reference Pages

You can download the source for this tutorial here:
You can also checkout the code from:

Next tutorial: OpenGL ES Tutorial for Android – Part II – Building a polygon

This Post Has 90 Comments

  1. thanks for starting this tutorial series on OpenGL for Android!

  2. Thanks, this is extremely helpful.

    I believe there’s a typo on line 220:

  3. Hi Per-Erik
    Thank you for your tutorial.But My application is not work for a error.It is GLLogger, it show couldn’t load library(Cannot find library).
    I don’t know what’s wrong.

  4. Dear Sir, really good articles to Android OpenGL ES!
    Thanks for ur sharing!

  5. Thank you for the tutorial, alas some inspiration to start of OpenGL ES :)

  6. any way to use a GLSurfaceView as a background? the idea is to have a normal surfaceview on top of the GLSurfaceView, render the background with opengl, then throw some sprites onto the other view. so as the opengl is just handling the background. I currently have this working fine, except i cannot get the GLSurfaceView to stay in the background.. no amount of view manipulation ie. what order they are in etc, seems to help.

  7. Your article is very helpful. Thanks

    My doubt is opengl return a .exe file as output in android, similarly in what format the o/p file will be in Android ? May be my question is very silly.

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Thanx’s realy good try.


  9. hi friend’s ,I want to draw an 2d image can i do here.
    I got pixel position of image ..

    Pls reply

    Thank in Advance..

  10. It’s very helpful. Thanks!

  11. By the way thought it could be helpful for anyone since black is the same as the default color. Try this instead:

    // Set the background color to RED( rgba ).
    gl.glClearColor(255.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 0.5f);

  12. Too Good Blog.
    Very Clear and Informative.
    Thanks for availing this information

  13. Very good, ThX

  14. Great tutorial…….
    Clear and easy to understand……….

  15. really nice tutorial and Im gonna add ur blog in my blogroll!!

  16. thanks
    its really nice to start opengl in eclipse
    if possible please provide the code for drawing arc in opengl using java

  17. Thank u..

  18. Really appreciate your tutorials, thanks!

  19. excellent to get started nice and easy :)

    just a note, you also need to include two classes for enable full screen:
    import android.view.Window;
    import android.view.WindowManager;

    great work on the writing, links and selecting the examples. jumping on part II now.

    PS: this should be linked from the android manual, where they say it’s not the scope of the glsurfaceview to explain how to do openGL helloworld! think that if you used more androidesque syntax they would consider it :) …just sugar, like @Override, etc

  20. *to enable full screen

  21. i am facing some error:
    [2010-11-20 15:31:55 – Emulator] invalid command-line parameter: partition-size.
    [2010-11-20 15:31:55 – Emulator] Hint: use ‘@foo’ to launch a virtual device named ‘foo’.
    [2010-11-20 15:31:55 – Emulator] please use -help for more information

  22. Super!!!.

  23. dear sir, I do have a question regarding this codes here
    // Sets the current view port to the new size.
    gl.glViewport(0, 0, width, height);// OpenGL docs.
    // Select the projection matrix
    gl.glMatrixMode(GL10.GL_PROJECTION);// OpenGL docs.
    // Reset the projection matrix
    gl.glLoadIdentity();// OpenGL docs.
    // Calculate the aspect ratio of the window
    GLU.gluPerspective(gl, 45.0f,
    (float) width / (float) height,
    0.1f, 100.0f);
    // Select the modelview matrix
    gl.glMatrixMode(GL10.GL_MODELVIEW);// OpenGL docs.
    // Reset the modelview matrix
    gl.glLoadIdentity();// OpenGL docs.

    why do we have to change the glMatrixMode to GL10.GL_MODELVIEW? and reload the glLoadIdentity?

    I hope I would here from your guidance since I’m new to OPENGL and android…

  24. Hi,
    I have followed this tutorial and hve also got a square to appear on screen. I am able to move the square by using up down left and right keys. My question is how can I get a cameraq to “follow” this square when it moves? ie I want the camera to be focused on the square.

  25. Nate: You can use en GLSurfaceView as any view so with a frame layout I guess you can add it as a background.

    mural: On android we get an .apk file.

    shubham: Rendering 2D with OpenGL is a big tutorial itself, it is in the pipeline.

    Pach: GL_PROJECTION and GL_MODELVIEW is two different matrix and since we need to “reset” them both we need to do glLoadIdentity on both.

    John: The easiest way is to create a camera object that you can steer. When rendering do the camera translation first before you render the square.

  26. As an openGL programmer on the PC, this was all i needed to get me started on android. However, i’d prefer using C++ over java, so that will be a next thing to figure out on android. But atleast i got started now. Thanks for the info

  27. Thanx you are very nice :)

  28. How do I bind different textures to to different faces of cube?

    I’m trying something like this

    gl.glBindTexture(GL10.GL_TEXTURE_2D, textures[0]);
    gl.glVertexPointer(3, GL10.GL_FLOAT, 0, vertexBuffer);
    gl.glTexCoordPointer(2, GL10.GL_FLOAT, 0, textureBuffer);
    gl.glBindTexture(GL10.GL_TEXTURE_2D, textures[5]);
    gl.glVertexPointer(3, GL10.GL_FLOAT, 0, vertexBuffer);
    gl.glTexCoordPointer(2, GL10.GL_FLOAT, 0, textureBuffer);


    gl.glDrawElements(GL10.GL_TRIANGLES, indices.length, GL10.GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE, indexBuffer);

  29. Hi,
    Is it possible to modify the draw method of an object in such a way that it only needs to be drawn once and not every time in the onDraw method? I am having performance issues while drawing lots of pixels for a background image and wondered if the draw method could be changed?

  30. Hi,

    Sorry..i’m new in OpenGL ES..i just wondering, why do we need to include GL10?

    And, I found that its quite difficult to look for OpenGL ES in Android in the internet but tons in iPhone…

  31. thanxs Per-Erik Bergman…
    its work..

    but i still really confuse to make graphics for AR using this ..any tutorial for make it ? please ??


  32. Thanks this is really great.
    But I would also like to see a similar example set for NDK.
    I was at google I/0 and some of the stuff that they showed on NDK was awesome.

  33. This was the excellent tutorial.i am having few doubts regarding the fallowing.
    How do I bind different textures to to different faces of cube?
    coud u please clarify it.

  34. Hey, really really really great tutorial!! its very simple, im starting with opengl and android and its helps me a lot to dont missup with other stuffs. The links on the documentation also helps a lot on the learning process. Ill continue with the other tutorials youve already posted. Thanks a lot!

  35. Another much easier way to set your application to fullscreen ist by adding 1 line to the AndroidManifest.xml. Just add android:theme=”@android:style/Theme.NoTitleBar.Fullscreen” to the application-tag in the xml file.

  36. Good job.

  37. Thank you! You are one of the best source i found.

  38. Thank you very much, i wasn’t found tutorial for opengl within a month!

  39. Awesome, this is an excellent tutorial, thanks!

  40. thank you so much sir for you accurate tutorials. Very help full

  41. Sir, i am trying to draw line by using glsurfaceview when user touches the screen. But i got window coordinates. I want them as glsurfaceview(opengl) coordinate. please help me

  42. I just finish class on graphics. Your tutorial were very help full as I was learning.
    Just want say thank you.

  43. Hi Per-Erik Bergman,
    My name is Dien Trinh. Firstly, forgive me for my bad English. I am developing an App for reading ebook and using harism’s Curl effect codes and I want when the user switches curled page to left or to right a continue picture will display on left or right side instead of current picture on curled page. Example, on the screen are displaying picture 1 on left and picture 2 on right. When I switches curled page to left the screen will display picture 3 and picture 4 instead of pic 2 and pic 3. Can you help me solve the problem or any instruction? Here is the link of my source code.

    Thanks and Best Regards

  44. Log.i(“For your information!”, “Good work :) Thanks”);

  45. How come you don’t extend GLSurfaceView and thus allowing for the @Override of onTouchEvent? Is there another method of calling onTouchEvent?

  46. thx

  47. Thanks for starting this tutorial series…….

  48. Nice work.. keep it up sir.. ^_^

  49. I just wanted to thank you for creating this OpenGL ES series. I have found it quite helpful. Please do keep up the great work!

  50. Hello,

    I am very new for OPENGL.. can you tell me what is gl stands for in each line?
    gl.glClearColor(0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 0.5f); // OpenGL docs.
    // Enable Smooth Shading, default not really needed.
    gl.glShadeModel(GL10.GL_SMOOTH);// OpenGL docs.
    // Depth buffer setup.
    gl.glClearDepthf(1.0f);// OpenGL docs.
    // Enables depth testing.
    gl.glEnable(GL10.GL_DEPTH_TEST);// OpenGL docs.
    // The type of depth testing to do.
    gl.glDepthFunc(GL10.GL_LEQUAL);// OpenGL docs.
    // Really nice perspective calculations.
    gl.glHint(GL10.GL_PERSPECTIVE_CORRECTION_HINT, // OpenGL docs.

  51. Hi,
    GL according to me stands for ” Graphics Library”

  52. tutorial part two doesn’t work. webpage doesn’t open.

  53. Is it possible to check this code on Android Emulator,Is android emulators supports Opengl , what type of extra effort should i do for that . thankou

  54. Thank you for sharing your document

  55. To the point Example… very easy to understand..

  56. Thanks for the tutorial. Can you please this code works for android 2.3

    1. Yeah This code is working on android 2.3 i HAVE TESTED IT ,PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE FACING ANY PROBLEM.

  57. I’m an undergraduate student. i am studying opengl for last 2 months. i have to do an academic project on android opengl. i’v 6 months more to do that. Could you please help me giving me some idea which i can choose for project?

  58. I wish to display 3-D arrows as direction from one location to other in an indoor navigation app.
    Kindly help me out with the same.

    Eagerly waiting for your response.

  59. This tutorial is great,

    One small thing though,

    I can’t get it to show the code as simple code,
    the html links to the docs are printed out in the middle of it.

  60. I am genuinely thankful to the owner of this site who has shared this wonderful
    post at here.

  61. I need to to thank you for this very good read!!
    I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you post…

  62. Something is wrong here. I see HTML-Code I should not see.

  63. Hi

    Can you help me to create a dash lines move or translate continuously from one point to other point using open-gl for android, till now i am able to move a single image from one point to another but unable to translate dashed line.

    thanks in advance

  64. When i run this tutorial program i got some like this error in my phone(Jelly Bean 4.4.2)-> unfortunately program has stopped.

    Any idea what is wrong?

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