HTML5 Canvas. Fundamentals

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Today I met HTML5 Canvas. Not in real world - but during one the exercises from Javascript30. What are those “canvas”?


Canvas is a HTML element used to draw graphics on fly via Javascript - [0]. Main idea is that you have this rectangle box on the page without any content and you use javascript to draw stuff on it. You do drawing by interacting with context object not the actual canvas object. Example below:

const canvas = document.querySelector('#myCanvas');
const ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');


Outputs a simple line. You can check and experiment here

Our task from Javascript30

Create this simple drawing tool where you press mouse keys and it draws different color trail.

First task - we want to take our canvas element and set its width and height to window size.

<canvas id="draw" width="800" height="800"></canvas>
  const canvas = document.querySelector('#draw')
  const ctx = canvas.getContext('2d')

  canvas.width = window.innerWidth
  canvas.height = window.innerHeight

Next we want to catch mouse event needed to paint our beautiful rainbow. The thing is - we only want to paint when mouse is clicked.

  let drawing = false;

  function draw(e) {
      if(drawing) {

  canvas.addEventListener('mousemove', draw);
  canvas.addEventListener('mousedown', e => drawing = true)
  canvas.addEventListener('mouseout', e => drawing = false)
  canvas.addEventListener('mouseup', e => drawing = false)

We add mousemove listener to call draw function on each mouse movement, but we check if drawing variables is true. Variable is to to true when mousedown or mouseout event happens. In draw function we ‘bounce’ calls if drawing is set to false

Moving on. Drawing the actual line. We need the point FROM and point TO for line to appear. Let’s add a new object drawFrom which will hold our point with x and y coordinates where we want our line to being

    let drawFrom = {x: 0, y: 0}
    function draw(e) {
        if (drawing) {
            ctx.moveTo(drawFrom.x, drawFrom.y)
            ctx.lineTo(e.offsetX, e.offsetY)
            ctx.stroke() //drawing wont happen until we call stroke
            drawFrom.x = e.offsetX //we update our point
            drawFrom.y = e.offsetY

and of course when we click down we need to update our point as well

    canvas.addEventListener('mousedown', e => {
        drawing = true
        drawFrom.x = e.offsetX
        drawFrom.y = e.offsetY


Next step - hue rainbows.

After setting canvas size let’s include basic styles for our stroke.

    ctx.lineWidth = 50
    ctx.lineJoin = 'round' //makes our point round
    ctx.lineCap = 'round'

For hue rainbows - we can use and abuse HSL. More on HSL here

Adding this line after ctx.beginPath() will result in drawing gummy bear worms.

    ctx.strokeStyle = `hsl(${e.offsetX % 360}, 100%, 50%)`

If you want - you can adjust width and count hue differently like it is shown in challenge, but IMHO this is enough for understanding the very very basics of HTML5 canvas.

Code is in github - here

[0] -


If you have any suggestions - I am eagerly waiting for feedback.