Appearance Models for Computer Graphics and Vision



The appearance of the everyday world has long been a topic of interest to many people from painters to physicists. Even simple questions require careful thought. Why is the sky blue? Why does wet sand look darker than dry sand? How can you reproduce a human face using oil paints? More recently appearance models have become increasingly important in computer graphics and vision. In graphics, they are needed to model and simulate different materials. In vision, texture and reflection models can be used to guide the acquisition of computer models of different scenes and objects, as well as the recognition of these scenes and objects in images.

Here is some inspiration for the types of appearance we will be discussing (clouds,plants, stone/water, rust, skin, atmosphere/smoke):

This class is the first quarter of a unique two quarter sequence being taught jointly at Stanford and Berkeley. The first quarter at Stanford will cover two topics: measurement and modeling. We will discuss methods for measuring reflection, models of reflection from rough surfaces, subsurface reflection, and light interaction with participating media and atmospheric models. The second quarter at Berkeley will cover inverse rendering (recovering scene parameters from images) and perception of shape and shading.

The class is open to students with a background in computer graphics or computer vision. The class may be taken for 1 or 3 credits. For 1 credit, each student will be expected to scribe a lecture and to lead a discussion topic; for 3 credits, a final project is also required.


Gates Room 392, Wednesdays from 3-6pm

3.00-4.30: Technical lecture
4.30-4.45: Coffee break
4.45-6.00: Presentation and discussion of a topic


The course will feature 10 lectures (listed below as technical lectures). Each lecture will be 1.5 hours.

The other half of the course will include a short presentation of one of the discussion topics by someone from the class. Afterwards we will discuss this topic in the class.

After each class: Participants must write a short (10-line) description of possible research ideas or projects based on the papers/topics discussed.

There will also be the opportunity to do a project based on the topics that are discussed in the class.

Technical Lectures

  1. Overview of appearance models (Hanrahan)
    The BRDF (Hanrahan, Rusinkiewicz, Marschner)
  2. Measurement I (Marschner, Rusinkiewicz)
  3. Measurement II (Marschner, Rusinkiewicz)
  4. Surface Reflection I: Random rough surfaces, microfacet models (Hanrahan)
  5. Surface Reflection II: Self-shadowing, interreflection (Hanrahan)
  6. Participating Media I: Volume rendering equation, particle phase functions (Jensen)
  7. Participating Media II: Models and rendering techniques (Jensen)
  8. Subsurface Scattering I: Kubelka-Munk, two-flux models (Hanrahan)
  9. Subsurface Scattering II: Hanrahan-Krueger model (Hanrahan)

Discussion Topics

  1. (No discussion the first week)
  2. Ocean and water (Tim Purcell)
  3. Virtual gonioreflectometry (Ravi Ramamoorthi)
  4. Grooves and cylinders, fibers and hair (Ben Mowery)
  5. Cloth, silk, velvet (Yu Ping Hu)
  6. Clouds, smoke (Adam Phelps)
  7. Halos, crystals, rainbows; snow, ice (Greg Hutchins)
  8. Paints, glazes, finishes; plants and leaves (Lena Vileshina)
  9. Skin, face, eyes; subsurface scattering in marble (Ren Ng)