How to Generate Noise with Canvas


Not too long ago, I noted on Twitter that it'd be fantastic if, one day, CSS3 provided support for adding noise to elements (not audio, but texture). After a bit of experimentation and Googling, I came across a solution that uses JavaScript and canvas to dynamically create noise.

The Screencast

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Final Source

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />


function generateNoise(opacity) {
   if ( !!!document.createElement('canvas').getContext ) {
      return false;

   var canvas = document.createElement("canvas"),
   ctx = canvas.getContext('2d'),
   x, y,
   opacity = opacity || .2;

   canvas.width = 45;
   canvas.height = 45;

   for ( x = 0; x < canvas.width; x++ ) {
      for ( y = 0; y < canvas.height; y++ ) {
         number = Math.floor( Math.random() * 60 );

         ctx.fillStyle = "rgba(" + number + "," + number + "," + number + "," + opacity + ")";
         ctx.fillRect(x, y, 1, 1);
   } = "url(" + canvas.toDataURL("image/png") + ")";
generateNoise(.1); // default opacity is .2



The big question: is it practical to use a solution like this? Ehh -- technically, sure. Browsers that don't support canvas will simply display a solid background color. That being said, a tiny 24-bit PNG still works perfectly, and is what I'll most likely continue to use until a more convenient solution becomes available.

What do you think? Or better yet, do you know of a better solution? Mostly, the purpose of this tutorial is mostly to work with canvas a bit, and toy around with things! Thanks for watching, and thank you to Dennis Hotson for the concept.