Drawing voxels seems easy at a glance, they're just cubes after all!

However, there's actually an infinite amount of ways to render voxels, depending on the way they should look like, the underlying storage, performance and resource considerations, general method used, etc. etc. ...

It all depends on what you ultimately want to do.

Graphics Programming APIs

When writing a program that renders something to the screen, you will usually want to A) draw things as fast as possible and B) do so across many platforms and hardware combinations.

For that, there are two main API's you might use:

  • To get started as fast as possible, with no regard as to how modern graphics co-processors work, use OpenGL.
  • To be future-proof and get as much performance as possible out of your graphics co-processor, use Vulkan.

Graphics Programming Libraries

If you find the previously mentioned APIs too burdensome, there are various rendering abstraction libraries available, built on top of these API's:

Some of these libraries have bindings for other languages, so check out their documentation before rejecting any!

Windowing Abstractions & Libraries

Creating a surface to actually draw into is, due to the many platforms that exist, terribly difficult, so it's best to leave it to a windowing library...

  • GLFW
  • SDL

General Rendering Methods


Converting voxels into meshes, then using a hardware-accelerated rasterizer to render a whole lot of triangles.


Converting voxels into tightly-fitting screen-aligned quadliterals, rasterizing them, then performing a Ray-AABB intersection test in the fragment shader to get cubes.


Send rays out of a camera into a volume of voxels, marching along them until voxels are hit, calculating a color based on the hit voxels and additional rays sent out from there.

This method makes it possible to achieve a high degree of photorealism and/or complex lighting effects, that are otherwise extremely hard to produce with other methods.

General Lighting Methods

TODO: Create article just for lighting?

General Culling Methods

Depending on the method you choose to render voxels, you may have to cull your geometry, so as to not overload your GPU with drawcalls & geometry.