COMP_SCI 351-2: Intermediate Computer Graphics

Quarter Offered

Winter : 9:30-10:50 TuTh ; Tumblin


COMP_SCI 351-1 Intro. to Comp. Graphics or equiv.(ask—you may already know enough!)


Second in a 3-course series on the methods and theory of computer graphics, this project-oriented course explores how to describe shapes, movement, and lighting effects beyond the built-in abilities of WebGL. It includes interactive particle systems, simple rigid-body dynamics, explicit and implicit dynamics solvers (suitable for smoke, simple fluids and cloth) and an introduction to ray tracing (chrome, glass, and diffraction) with a few basic ideas for global illumination.

  • This course satisfies the Technical Elective & the Project Requirement.

COURSE GOALS: Comfort and ease creating visually accurate interactive non-polygonal objects such as smoke, fire, cloth, sand, ropes, with multi-bounce computed light transport via ray-tracing.

DETAILED COURSE TOPICS: The course has just two topics, but they are very broad: 
A. Particles and Movement: 1) Abandon triangle meshes to make 'shapeless' shapes (fireworks, swarms of bees, rain, snow, grass, etc.) from clouds of particles.  How close can we get to modeling each particle in a cloud of steam?  2) Moving particles coupled together can simulate many interesting materials (rope, water, smoke, cloth, etc.). We'll explore both 'explicit' and 'implicit' solvers that make soft things move and behave realistically in mass-aggregate systems, combined with basic collision detection and rigid-body dynamics.
B. Light Done Right: we'll learn ray tracing, BRDFs and light units, extended light sources (soft shadows), and some basic global illumination ideas. You will make pictures that look much more like photographs than drawings, with shadows, chrome reflections, transparency, and complex surfaces.


  • 4 ‘reading’ quizzes,
  • 2 progressively-graded projects with Demo Days and written project reports.
  • No midterm exam, no final exam.



COMPUTER USAGE: Yes, required. WebGL usage builds on COMP_SCI 351-1

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK"Foundations of Physically-Based Modeling and Animation" © 2017, Donald H. House and John C. Keyser; AK Peters / CRC Press. Note: available as hard-cover or as Kindle Edition (both cost $56).


  • “Game Physics-Engine Development” 2nd Ed.(2010), Ian Millington, CRC Press (former course text)
  • “Fluid Simulation for Computer Graphics” by Robert Bridson (c)2008 AK Peters.
  • “Game Physics Pearls” Gino van den Bergen, Dirk Gregorius (Eds.) (c)2010 AK Peters.
  • SIGGRAPH/Pixar Short Course Notes “Particle Dynamics” by Witkin, Baraff.
  • Handouts and misc. PDF documents written by instructor and others

LABORATORY PROJECTS: CS352 is a project-oriented course: lectures and reading are important, but for a deep and genuine understanding of computer graphics methods you really need to write some code and make some pictures of your own.  Step-by-step, week-by-week, you will build two large programming projects that make astonishing pictures and animations.