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This lesson covers the basics of writing your own shaders and using them with DirectX Tool Kit.


First create a new project using the instructions from the first two lessons: The basic game loop and
Adding the DirectX Tool Kit which we will use for this lesson.

Creating custom shaders with HLSL

The general approach is to author your own shaders in HLSL and compile them. For this lesson, we'll focus on writing a custom pixel shader and rely on the built-in vertex shader for SpriteBatch, but the same basic principles apply to all HLSL shaders: vertex shaders, pixel shaders, geometry shaders, hull shaders, domain shaders, and even compute shaders.

Setting up our test scene

Save the file sunset.jpg to your new project's folder. Using to the top menu and select Project / Add Existing Item.... Select "sunset.jpg" and hit "OK".

In the Game.h file, add the following variables to the bottom of the Game class's private declarations:

std::unique_ptr<DirectX::CommonStates> m_states;
std::unique_ptr<DirectX::SpriteBatch> m_spriteBatch;
std::unique_ptr<DirectX::GeometricPrimitive> m_shape;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11ShaderResourceView> m_background;
DirectX::SimpleMath::Matrix m_world;
DirectX::SimpleMath::Matrix m_view;
DirectX::SimpleMath::Matrix m_projection;
RECT m_fullscreenRect;

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of CreateDevice:

DX::ThrowIfFailed(CreateWICTextureFromFile(m_d3dDevice.Get(), L"sunset.jpg", nullptr, 

m_states.reset(new CommonStates(m_d3dDevice.Get()));
m_spriteBatch.reset(new SpriteBatch(m_d3dContext.Get()));
m_shape.swap( GeometricPrimitive::CreateTorus(m_d3dContext.Get()) );

m_view = Matrix::CreateLookAt(Vector3(0.f, 3.f, -3.f), Vector3::Zero, Vector3::UnitY);

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of CreateResources:

m_fullscreenRect.left = 0; = 0;
m_fullscreenRect.right = backBufferWidth;
m_fullscreenRect.bottom = backBufferHeight;

m_projection = Matrix::CreatePerspectiveFieldOfView(XM_PIDIV4,
    float(backBufferWidth) / float(backBufferHeight), 0.01f, 100.f);

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of OnDeviceLost:


In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of Update:

float totalTime = static_cast<float>(timer.GetTotalSeconds());

m_world = Matrix::CreateRotationZ(totalTime / 2.f)
    * Matrix::CreateRotationY(totalTime)
    * Matrix::CreateRotationX(totalTime * 2.f);

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of Render:

m_spriteBatch->Draw(m_background.Get(), m_fullscreenRect);

m_shape->Draw(m_world, m_view, m_projection);

Build and run to see our initial scene.


Troubleshooting: If you get a runtime exception, then you may have the "sunset.jpg" in the wrong folder, have modified the "Working Directory" in the "Debugging" configuration settings, or otherwise changed the expected paths at runtime of the application. You should set a break-point on CreateWICTextureFromFile and step into the code to find the exact problem.

Compiling and loading shaders

Save the files Bloom.hlsli, BloomCombine.hlsl, BloomExtract.hlsl, GaussianBlur.hlsl, and ReadData.h to your new project's folder. Using to the top menu and select Project / Add Existing Item.... Select "Bloom.hlsli" and hit "OK". Repeat for "BloomCombine.hlsl", "BloomExtract.hlsl", "GaussianBlur.hlsl", and "ReadData.h".

View Properties on each of the three .hlsl files ("BloomCombine.hlsl", "BloomExtract.hlsl", and "GaussianBlur.hlsl") and for "All Configurations" and "All Platforms", set the "Shader Type" to "Pixel Shader (/ps)" and select "OK".


In pch.h add after the other #include statements:

#include "ReadData.h"

In the Game.h file, add the following variables to the bottom of the Game class's private declarations:

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11PixelShader> m_bloomExtractPS;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11PixelShader> m_bloomCombinePS;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11PixelShader> m_gaussianBlurPS;

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Buffer> m_bloomParams;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Buffer> m_blurParamsWidth;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Buffer> m_blurParamsHeight;

At the top of the Game.cpp file after the using namespace statements, add the following:

        float bloomThreshold;
        float blurAmount;
        float bloomIntensity;
        float baseIntensity;
        float bloomSaturation;
        float baseSaturation;
        uint8_t na[8];

    static_assert(!(sizeof(VS_BLOOM_PARAMETERS) % 16),
        "VS_BLOOM_PARAMETERS needs to be 16 bytes aligned");

        static const size_t SAMPLE_COUNT = 15;

        XMFLOAT4 sampleOffsets[SAMPLE_COUNT];
        XMFLOAT4 sampleWeights[SAMPLE_COUNT];

        void SetBlurEffectParameters(float dx, float dy,
            const VS_BLOOM_PARAMETERS& params)
            sampleWeights[0].x = ComputeGaussian(0, params.blurAmount);
            sampleOffsets[0].x = sampleOffsets[0].y = 0.f;

            float totalWeights = sampleWeights[0].x;

            // Add pairs of additional sample taps, positioned
            // along a line in both directions from the center.
            for (size_t i = 0; i < SAMPLE_COUNT / 2; i++)
                // Store weights for the positive and negative taps.
                float weight = ComputeGaussian( float(i + 1.f), params.blurAmount);

                sampleWeights[i * 2 + 1].x = weight;
                sampleWeights[i * 2 + 2].x = weight;

                totalWeights += weight * 2;

                // To get the maximum amount of blurring from a limited number of
                // pixel shader samples, we take advantage of the bilinear filtering
                // hardware inside the texture fetch unit. If we position our texture
                // coordinates exactly halfway between two texels, the filtering unit
                // will average them for us, giving two samples for the price of one.
                // This allows us to step in units of two texels per sample, rather
                // than just one at a time. The 1.5 offset kicks things off by
                // positioning us nicely in between two texels.
                float sampleOffset = float(i) * 2.f + 1.5f;

                Vector2 delta = Vector2(dx, dy) * sampleOffset;

                // Store texture coordinate offsets for the positive and negative taps.
                sampleOffsets[i * 2 + 1].x = delta.x;
                sampleOffsets[i * 2 + 1].y = delta.y;
                sampleOffsets[i * 2 + 2].x = -delta.x;
                sampleOffsets[i * 2 + 2].y = -delta.y;

            for (size_t i = 0; i < SAMPLE_COUNT; i++)
                sampleWeights[i].x /= totalWeights;

        float ComputeGaussian(float n, float theta)
            return (float)((1.0 / sqrtf(2 * XM_PI * theta))
                * expf(-(n * n) / (2 * theta * theta)));

    static_assert(!(sizeof(VS_BLUR_PARAMETERS) % 16),
        "VS_BLUR_PARAMETERS needs to be 16 bytes aligned");

    enum BloomPresets
        Default = 0,

    BloomPresets g_Bloom = Default;

    static const VS_BLOOM_PARAMETERS g_BloomPresets[] = 
        //Thresh  Blur Bloom  Base  BloomSat BaseSat
        { 0.25f,  4,   1.25f, 1,    1,       1 }, // Default
        { 0,      3,   1,     1,    1,       1 }, // Soft
        { 0.5f,   8,   2,     1,    0,       1 }, // Desaturated
        { 0.25f,  4,   2,     1,    2,       0 }, // Saturated
        { 0,      2,   1,     0.1f, 1,       1 }, // Blurry
        { 0.5f,   2,   1,     1,    1,       1 }, // Subtle
        { 0.25f,  4,   1.25f, 1,    1,       1 }, // None

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of CreateDevice:

auto blob = DX::ReadData( L"BloomExtract.cso" );
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreatePixelShader( &blob.front(), blob.size(), nullptr,

blob = DX::ReadData( L"BloomCombine.cso" );
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreatePixelShader( &blob.front(), blob.size(), nullptr,

blob = DX::ReadData( L"GaussianBlur.cso" );
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreatePixelShader( &blob.front(), blob.size(), nullptr,

    D3D11_SUBRESOURCE_DATA initData;
    initData.pSysMem = &g_BloomPresets[g_Bloom];
    initData.SysMemPitch = sizeof(VS_BLOOM_PARAMETERS);
    DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateBuffer(&cbDesc, &initData,

    DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateBuffer(&cbDesc, nullptr,
    DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateBuffer(&cbDesc, nullptr,

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of CreateResources:

blurData.SetBlurEffectParameters(1.f / (backBufferWidth / 2), 0,
m_d3dContext->UpdateSubresource(m_blurParamsWidth.Get(), 0, nullptr,
    &blurData, sizeof(VS_BLUR_PARAMETERS), 0);

blurData.SetBlurEffectParameters(0, 1.f / (backBufferHeight / 2),
m_d3dContext->UpdateSubresource(m_blurParamsHeight.Get(), 0, nullptr,
    &blurData, sizeof(VS_BLUR_PARAMETERS), 0);

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of OnDeviceLost:



Build and run. The scene is unchanged, but we've loaded our new shaders.

Troubleshooting: If you get a runtime exception, then the shaders are not getting built as expected by Visual Studio 2013. The ReadData helper looks in the same directory as the EXE for the compiled shader files (since they are built for each configuration Debug, Release, etc.). See if the files BloomExtract.cso, BloomCombine.cso, and GaussianBlur.cso are present in the directory where the project's EXE is built. If one or more of them is missing, check the properties on each of the HLSL files as above, and double-check the general settings for those files as well.


Implementing a post processing effect

In the Game.h file, add the following variables to the bottom of the Game class's private declarations:

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Texture2D> m_backBuffer;

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Texture2D> m_sceneTex;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11ShaderResourceView> m_sceneSRV;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11RenderTargetView> m_sceneRT;

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11ShaderResourceView> m_rt1SRV;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11RenderTargetView> m_rt1RT;

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11ShaderResourceView> m_rt2SRV;
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11RenderTargetView> m_rt2RT;
RECT m_bloomRect;

Then add the following method to the Game class's private declarations:

void PostProcess();

In Game.cpp, modify the section of CreateResources just before creating the depth-stencil target as follows changing the local variable backBuffer to the newly created m_backBuffer class variable.

// Obtain the backbuffer for this window which will be the final 3D rendertarget.
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_swapChain->GetBuffer(0, __uuidof(ID3D11Texture2D), &m_backBuffer));

// Create a view interface on the rendertarget to use on bind.
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateRenderTargetView(m_backBuffer.Get(), nullptr,

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of CreateResources:

// Full-size render target for scene
CD3D11_TEXTURE2D_DESC sceneDesc(backBufferFormat, backBufferWidth, backBufferHeight,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateTexture2D(&sceneDesc, nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateRenderTargetView(m_sceneTex.Get(), nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateShaderResourceView(m_sceneTex.Get(), nullptr,

// Half-size blurring render targets
CD3D11_TEXTURE2D_DESC rtDesc(backBufferFormat, backBufferWidth / 2, backBufferHeight / 2,
Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Texture2D> rtTexture1;
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateTexture2D(&rtDesc, nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateRenderTargetView(rtTexture1.Get(), nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateShaderResourceView(rtTexture1.Get(), nullptr,

Microsoft::WRL::ComPtr<ID3D11Texture2D> rtTexture2;
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateTexture2D(&rtDesc, nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateRenderTargetView(rtTexture2.Get(), nullptr,
DX::ThrowIfFailed(m_d3dDevice->CreateShaderResourceView(rtTexture2.Get(), nullptr,

m_bloomRect.left = 0; = 0;
m_bloomRect.right = backBufferWidth / 2;
m_bloomRect.bottom = backBufferHeight / 2;

In Game.cpp, add to the TODO of OnDeviceLost:


In Game.cpp, add to Render just before the call to Present:


In Game.cpp, modify Clear to use m_sceneRT instead of m_renderTargetView:

m_d3dContext->ClearRenderTargetView(m_sceneRT.Get(), Colors::CornflowerBlue);
    D3D11_CLEAR_DEPTH, 1.0f, 0);
m_d3dContext->OMSetRenderTargets(1, m_sceneRT.GetAddressOf(), m_depthStencilView.Get());

In Game.cpp, add the new method PostProcess

void Game::PostProcess()
    ID3D11ShaderResourceView* null[] = { nullptr, nullptr };

    if (g_Bloom == None)
        // Pass-through test
        m_d3dContext->CopyResource(m_backBuffer.Get(), m_sceneTex.Get());
        // scene -> RT1 (downsample)
        m_d3dContext->OMSetRenderTargets(1, m_rt1RT.GetAddressOf(), nullptr);
            nullptr, nullptr, nullptr, nullptr,
                m_d3dContext->PSSetConstantBuffers(0, 1, m_bloomParams.GetAddressOf());
                m_d3dContext->PSSetShader(m_bloomExtractPS.Get(), nullptr, 0);
        m_spriteBatch->Draw(m_sceneSRV.Get(), m_bloomRect);

        // RT1 -> RT2 (blur horizontal)
        m_d3dContext->OMSetRenderTargets(1, m_rt2RT.GetAddressOf(), nullptr);
            nullptr, nullptr, nullptr, nullptr,
                m_d3dContext->PSSetShader(m_gaussianBlurPS.Get(), nullptr, 0);
                m_d3dContext->PSSetConstantBuffers(0, 1,
        m_spriteBatch->Draw(m_rt1SRV.Get(), m_bloomRect);

        m_d3dContext->PSSetShaderResources(0, 2, null);

        // RT2 -> RT1 (blur vertical)
        m_d3dContext->OMSetRenderTargets(1, m_rt1RT.GetAddressOf(), nullptr);
            nullptr, nullptr, nullptr, nullptr,
                m_d3dContext->PSSetShader(m_gaussianBlurPS.Get(), nullptr, 0);
                m_d3dContext->PSSetConstantBuffers(0, 1,
        m_spriteBatch->Draw(m_rt2SRV.Get(), m_bloomRect);

        // RT1 + scene
        m_d3dContext->OMSetRenderTargets(1, m_renderTargetView.GetAddressOf(), nullptr);
            nullptr, nullptr, nullptr, nullptr,
                m_d3dContext->PSSetShader(m_bloomCombinePS.Get(), nullptr, 0);
                m_d3dContext->PSSetShaderResources(1, 1, m_sceneSRV.GetAddressOf());
                m_d3dContext->PSSetConstantBuffers(0, 1, m_bloomParams.GetAddressOf());
        m_spriteBatch->Draw(m_rt1SRV.Get(), m_fullscreenRect);

    m_d3dContext->PSSetShaderResources(0, 2, null);

Build and run to see the bloom in action:


Change the value in Game.cpp for g_Bloom to "Saturated" instead of "Default":

BloomPresets g_Bloom = Saturated;

Build and run to see a different set of bloom settings in action:


Change the value in Game.cpp for g_Bloom to "None" to render our original scene without bloom.

Technical notes

First the original scene is rendered to a hidden render target m_sceneTex as normal. The only change here was for Clear to use m_sceneRT rather than m_renderTargetView which is our backbuffer render target view.

Our first past of post-processing is to render the original scene texture as a 'full-screen quad' onto our first half-sized render target using the custom shader in "BloomExtract.hlsl" into m_rt1RT.

float4 main(float4 color : COLOR0, float2 texCoord : TEXCOORD0) : SV_Target0
    float4 c = Texture.Sample(TextureSampler, texCoord);
    return saturate((c - BloomThreshold) / (1 - BloomThreshold));


We take the result of the extract & down-size and then blur it horizontally using "GausianBlur.hlsl" from m_rt1SRV to m_rt2RT.

float4 main(float4 color : COLOR0, float2 texCoord : TEXCOORD0) : SV_Target0
    float4 c = 0;

    // Combine a number of weighted image filter taps.
    for (int i = 0; i < SAMPLE_COUNT; i++)
        c += Texture.Sample(TextureSampler, texCoord + SampleOffsets[i]) * SampleWeights[i];

    return c;


We take that result in m_rt2SRV and then blur it vertically using the same shader--we are using a Gaussian blur which is a separable filter which allows us to do the filter in two simple render passes one for each dimension--back into m_rt1RT.


And finally we take the result of both blur passes in m_rt1SRV and combine it with our original scene texture m_sceneSRV using the "BloomCombine.hlsl" shader to get our final image into m_renderTargetView

// Helper for modifying the saturation of a color.
float4 AdjustSaturation(float4 color, float saturation)
    // The constants 0.3, 0.59, and 0.11 are chosen because the
    // human eye is more sensitive to green light, and less to blue.
    float grey = dot(color.rgb, float3(0.3, 0.59, 0.11));

    return lerp(grey, color, saturation);

float4 main(float4 color : COLOR0, float2 texCoord : TEXCOORD0) : SV_Target0
    float4 base = BaseTexture.Sample(TextureSampler, texCoord);
    float4 bloom = BloomTexture.Sample(TextureSampler, texCoord);

    // Adjust color saturation and intensity.
    bloom = AdjustSaturation(bloom, BloomSaturation) * BloomIntensity;
    base = AdjustSaturation(base, BaseSaturation) * BaseIntensity;
    // Darken down the base image in areas where there is a lot of bloom,
    // to prevent things looking excessively burned-out.
    base *= (1 - saturate(bloom));
    // Combine the two images.
    return base + bloom;

Note we use half-size-in-each-dimension render targets for the blur because it is a quarter the memory/bandwidth to render, and because we are blurring the image significantly there's no need for the 'full' resolution. Other kinds of post-process effects may require more fidelity in the temporary buffers.

One final note, because we are using a render target that is larger than our blur buffers, we do not need to use RSSetViewports as we change render targets. If our intermediate render targets were larger than our backbuffer, then we'd need to call RSSetViewports after calling OMSetRenderTargets whenever we changed sizes.

Next lessons: Game controller input, Using the SimpleMath library, Adding the DirectX Tool Kit for Audio

Further reading

DirectX Tool Kit docs SpriteBatch


I borrowed heavily from the XNA Game Studio Bloom Postprocess sample for this lesson.

Last edited Jul 28, 2015 at 7:55 PM by walbourn, version 41