Realistic Rendering and Modeling of Plants
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." (Anonymous)
Realistic rendering has been one of the long time goals of computer graphics. For myself, it is an enjoyable challenge to "bottle" physical interactions of light and materials into a shader and attempt to achieve a realistic image. Large strides have been made in realistic rendering, but there is always room for improvement - particularly in organic materials that entertain a complex interplay with light through scattering of rays in their translucent layers.
In my final year of undergraduate studies Dr. Prusinkiewicz introduced me to the world of plant modeling through his graphics course, CPSC 553. I had a chance to learn L-systems and vLab, a language and set of tools (respectively) for building plant models and interactively adjusting parameters such as leaf width, stem curvature, and branching angles. The plant models can be viewed as real-time OpenGL models or output into a Rayshade readable file for rendering. Unfortunately, Rayshade has limitations in terms of global illumination and performance.
After starting the Masters program in September 2001, I built two plugins for cpfg (the component of vLab in charge of rendering) to output plant models to Entropy, a Renderman compatible renderer from Exluna Inc., and Dali, a photon mapping render built by Henrik Wann Jensen. This opens up the opportunity to explore rendering of plants in earnest. I was particularly interested by the Dali renderer, as photon mapping is provides an accelerated global illumination rendering solution with very good performance and quality.
During the past few years I have had the chance to explore both modeling and rendering issues, as I worked on plants with venation patterns, hairy surfaces, and translucent leaves and petals. The ride has been enjoyable, and the resulting images highlight the importance of paying attention to the small details, as well as the large.
"Modeling and Visualization
of Leaf Venation Patterns"
"Modeling Hairy Plants"
"Hairs, Textures, and Shades: Improving
the Realism of Plant Models Generated with L-systems"
"Realistic Plant Rendering with Photon Mapping"
Scene" (realistic ecosystem rendering)
Useful resources for graphics development:
Not too much here at the moment - but it's a start: