Water layer

What can I do with the water layer?

With the water layer you can render water.

How do I add a water layer?

Choose LAYER > Add layer > Add water layer... to add a new water layer.

The new water layer can be selected from the layers dropdown to make it the active layer.


The installer comes with shows demonstrating the possibilities of the water layer. Choose FILE > Open show... and select a show from the BluffTitler/Media/Shows/Water folder.

To quickly switch between your own shows and the ones that came with the installer, click on the Personal and App buttons in the upper right corner of the file dialog.

Water simulation model

The water is simulated using the Gerstner waves. In this model, the water surface is not only moving vertically but also in the horizontal plane. Complex patterns are created by adding lots of waves with different wave lengths, amplitudes, speeds and directions.

Sinus wave

Sinus waves have round extremes.

Set the Waves steepness property to 0 for sinus waves.

Layers floating in sinus waves only move vertically.

Gerstner wave

Realistic water has sharp crests and wide troughs, which is perfectly modeled by the Gerstner waves.

Set the Waves steepness property to 1 for Gerstner waves.

Layers floating in Gerstner waves move in all 3 dimensions!


The simulation is deterministic. No random variables are used. This means that the water looks the same everytime you render the show.


By default, the water layer uses the Special/Water effect.

Floating in the water

Choose LAYER > Float in water to make your layer float in the water. The vertical position is now relative to the water surface.

Water layer properties


The position of the water.


The size of the water.


The colour of the water.

Specular colour

The specular colour of the water.


The size of the specular highlights.


The transparency of the water.

Texture position

The position of the foam texture. Choose MEDIA > Change texture... to change the texture.

Texture size

The size of the foam texture.

Depth bias

This property can be used to solve sorting problems. When the water and landscape layers are placed at the exact same position, you can force the transparent water to be rendered on top of the landscape by setting the Depth bias property of the water to -1.


The number of waves. More waves create a more complex pattern, but is slower to render and simulate. For realistic water use about 100 waves. For cartoony water 10 can be enough.

Waves length range

The 1st slider sets the minimum and the 2nd the maximum wavelength. For realistic water use a minimum wavelenght of about 0.1. For cartoony water use about 10.

Waves height

The ratio between wavelenght and amplitude. Use 0 for a motionless sea, 50 for a calm sea and 500 for a storm.

Waves heading range

The 1st slider sets the minimum heading and the 2nd the maximum heading. All waves are positioned randomly in between these 2 values. To make all your waves move to the same direction, use a small range by settings the 2 sliders near to each other.

Waves speed

The ratio between wavelength and speed. Warning: this property can not be animated without discontinuities so keep it fixed during the whole show.

Waves steepness

When using a value of 0, the waves are only moving vertially, creating round wave tops. This can be used to simulate a small pond or bath water. A value of 1 creates sharp wave tops that can be used to simulate a rough sea.

Start time

This sets the simulation time in seconds at the start of the show. This can be used to immediately jump to a nice effect without having to create a long show.

Buoy size

A higher value makes the rotation of layers floating in the water (using the LAYER > Float in water menu item) less sensitive to the water.

Water effect properties

The water layer uses by default the Special/Water effect. This effect adds the following properties to the layer:

FX Foam colour

The 1st texture is used as an alpha map. White means foam, black means no foam.

FX Foam texture is a colour map

When this property is set to 1, the 1st texture is used as a colour map.

FX Foam texture factor

The opaqueness of the foam texture. 0 means no foam.

FX Foam procedural factor

If the 1st slider is bigger than 0, foam is only added at the sharp crests of the waves. The 2nd slider controls the smoothness.

FX Waves detail (tessellation)

More tessellation means more detail, at the expense of slower rendering. Switch to wireframe (press <Tab>) to inspect the tessellation.

FX Subsurface scattering colour and factor

Subsurface scattering tries to take into account the half transparency of the water at the crests.

FX Reflection factor

The 2nd texture is used as a reflection map. The 3rd as a cube map. This property sets the amount of reflection.

FX Reflection rotation

The rotation of the reflections. Normally this is set to 0.

FX Lighting factor water, foam

The 1st slider sets the lighting factor of the water. The 2nd of the foam.

FX Transparency range

This property gradually makes the water fully transparent. This can be used to blend it into the background. If the distance to the camera is smaller than the 1st slider, the water is not transparent. If this distance is bigger than the 2nd slider, the water is fully transparent.

FX Foam texture mirror, rotation

If the 1st slider is set to 1, the foam texture is mirrored to make it seamless. If the 2nd slider is set to 1, the foam texture is rotated 90 degrees.

FX Fresnel colour, factor

Water is more reflective and less transparent when it is viewed from a sharp angle. This property sets the water colour when it is most transparent.

FX Normal strength

This sets the impact of the normal map.

FX Radius

When this value is bigger than 0, the water area is round instead of rectangular. This can be used to render the water inside a swimming pool or a wine glass.