Swift: Create a Beautiful Star Trail Using a Particle Emitter

With a simple UIPanGestureRecognizer implementation

Zafar Ivaev
Feb 7 · 2 min read
Star icon by Icons8

In this short tutorial we will learn how to create a star trail in Swift. We will use an Xcode Playground because it’s a nice way to quickly build and test things.

The source code of the project is available on GitHub.


Let’s Start

We need to set PlaygroundPage.current.liveView = SceneView() to be able to see the live view when tapping on the blue “Play” button.

Now let’s create our star particle:

Here’s a description of each property:

  • birthRate defines the number of particles emitted per second.
  • lifetime defines the number of seconds a particle will be visible on the screen.
  • velocity defines the initial velocity of the particle.
  • velocityRange describes the amount by which the velocity can vary.
  • emissionLongitude defines the angle of emission.
  • emissionRange defines the amount by which the angle of emission can vary.
  • spinRange defines the amount by which the spin of the particle can vary.
  • scale applies magnification to the particle.
  • scaleRange defines the range of the magnification.
  • alphaSpeed is the amount by which the particle’s alpha property will change over its lifetime.
  • contents describes the image for the particle. In our case, it is a star icon.

Adding the StarParticle

let starParticle = StarParticle()

We need to create a CAEmitterLayer now and append the starParticle to its emitterCells array property inside the showStars() method:

We’ve implemented our star particle emitter. Now we need to emit stars based on the pan gesture. Let’s create a UIPanGestureRecognizer and add it to the SceneView:

All that’s left is the missing handleTap() method:

Finally, we can run our Playground, click and move the cursor on the SceneView, and see stars being emitted:

Thanks for reading!

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Thanks to Zack Shapiro

Zafar Ivaev

Written by

👨🏻‍💻 iOS & Flutter Developer

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

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