Three.js basic concepts hello world

Chapter 1 – The Basic Concepts of Three.js

Are you ready to start our 3D adventure ? This first chapter details the basic concepts used in a Three.js project !

Chapter 1 - The Basic Concepts of Three.JS
Chapter 1 – The Basic Concepts of Three.js

This simplified diagram presents the hierarchy between the different concepts we will explore.

The principal concepts of a Three.js application

Scene – Our 3D universe

Let’s start with the Scene element. This class allows to create a 3D environment, the various 3D objects of our universe will be placed there in the goal of being displayed by the Three.js engine

Note that there is a parent / child relationship between the elements of the Three.js universe. Scene is the parent element of most of the actors of our application.

Mesh – A 3D object of the scene

A Mesh class instance is a 3D object usable in our Three.js scene. This element is mainly composed of two concepts :

  • Geometry – The geometric shape of the 3D object
  • Material – Visual aspect and rendering options (shininess, opacity, texture …)

For example, let’s imagine that we want to create a red Mesh cube in our 3D universe : its cubic shape will be defined in a Geometry instance, and its color in a Material.

Light – The lighting of our universe

Then, let’s study the Light objects ! As in the real world, our virtual universe needs lighting so that we can observe the elements that compose it.

Thus, the lighting is an important actor of our application. Most of the time, it will be impossible to see 3D objects without lighting.

There is a great diversity of Light classes, we will talk about them in the next chapters.

Camera – The point of view

The Camera is an indispensable part of any Three.js application. We will use this special scene object to define the position and the orientation of the point of view.

Note that there are several projection modes and different values that can be set to configure our Camera, we will discuss these details in the following chapters !

Renderer – Three.js rendering engine

Then, to finish our presentation, the Renderer object.

Concretely, this element represents the 3D engine that will be used to generate the 3D rendering of our Scene, from the point of view of a Camera.

There are several types of Renderer, we will discuss them in time in the next chapters.


This first chapter, very theoretical, aims to familiarize us with the main concepts of a Three.js application.

Feel free to download the complete Three.js University guide to progress even faster !

This article only touches on the basic concepts of Three.js ! In chapter 2 of the downloadable guide, you’ll find out how to configure the different concepts I just presented in detail !

Three.js University Complete Guide – Hello World
Three.js University Complete Guide – Hello World

You can download the complete guide here :

In the next part, we will approach in practice these concepts during the creation of a 3D Hello World.


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