Realistic water visualization in 3D

This sample shows how to visualize waterbody polygons with a realistic water surface using WaterSymbol3DLayer. To achieve a realistic look, the user can set various properties like the dominant color of the water, the strength of the wave, the direction of the waves or select the size of the water body.

The color property sets the dominant color of the water. The water will have different shades of the color based on the reflection of the light. The image below shows how different types of water can be represented with different colors. For example for deep water the dominant color could be navy blue, shallow water could be a light turquoise and if the water is rich in algae then the dominant color is green.


Because of the different variations of the color, we don't recommend using this symbol layer for data-driven visualizations.

The waveDirection represents the direction in which the waves travel. This can be a value from 0 to 360 degrees. A value of 0 degrees means that the waves move towards the North direction.

The waveStrength property can be set to change the shape and intensity of the waves. Currently only calm to moderate waters can be represented. The following values can be set:

  • calm wave strength represents water without waves, acting almost like a mirror;
  • rippled wave strength shows the water with very small and short waves;
  • slight wave strength displays the waves with a more pronounced form, but they are still quite short;
  • moderate wave strength means that the waves have a longer form, but their intensity is still quite small.

The waterbodySize property can be set depending on the type of water:

  • large is recommended for ocean and sea water bodies
  • medium can be set for large lakes
  • small can be set for small lakes, rivers or swimming pools

Finally, this is how the renderer is set in this sample for the Spree river in Berlin:

Use dark colors for code blocksCopy
const waterLayer = new FeatureLayer({
  renderer: {
    type: "simple",
    symbol: {
      type: "polygon-3d",
      symbolLayers: [{
        type: "water",
        waveDirection: 180,
        color: "#5975a3",
        waveStrength: "moderate",
        waterbodySize: "medium"

Setting to true will display reflections of surrounding buildings in the water.

More examples

For more realistic visualizations see also the following samples:

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