Ideas for papers and projects
CS 99D - The Science of Art
This web page will continue to be updated after it is handed out in class.
Winter Quarter, 1998
Here are some ideas for your final project. Some of the ideas in the writing
category are simple enough to tackle for one of your short papers, in lieu of
answering one of the questions handed out in class. The items about Vermeer
and Masaccio might fall into this category. Obviously, I expect different
levels of work if you use one of these for a short paper assignment versus
using it for your final project.
Write an artist's aerial perspective assistant. First, using a standard
interactive graphics toolkit, implement a color picker for choosing foreground
colors. Use the RGB, YIQ, HSV, or HLS system from Principles of Computer
Graphics by Foley, van Dam, Feiner, and Hughes. Alternatively, invent
your own system for picking colors. Next, provide a set of sliders for
choosing the distance to the horizon, elevation above sea level, atmospheric
humidity, the smog or dust content of the air, and any other parameters you can
think of. Finally, implement a simple mathematical model of aerial
perspective. Don't worry about getting the science right, as long as the
results look plausible. Use your model to compute and display a sequence of
colors that achieves the desired visual effect.
Program a tone reproduction operator that squeezes the large dynamic
range of a synthetically rendered image into the limited dynamic range of a
particular artist's media. Use a canned renderer to generate the images, Try
your operator on hard scenes, like a moonlit scene or a sunlit scene with
deep shadows. For extra credit, implement an operator that employs local
contrast effects to extend the dynamic range of the media, as artists do. See
me for some references to the graphics literature.
Write a Web tutorial suitable for teaching Stanford art students how to draw
objects in correct perspective. Concentrate on architectural objects
if you like. See me for some sample handbooks of perspective drawing.
Model and render the 3D scene corresponding to a famous painting. Use a
commercially available modeling and rendering system such as SoftImage or Ray
Dream Designer. For an extra kick, script, render, and record on video a
flyaround of the scene. Alternatively, convert it into a form that can be
navigated interactively on one of our high-performance graphics workstations.
Beware: many paintings do not have a single, consistent 3D interpretation!
Write a RenderMan shader that implements a nonphotorealistic rendering
style. Although not really programming per se, this project does require
some understanding of programming language constructs. For some fun, try to
mimic the style of a famous artist. Can you draw pictures that exhibit
Leonard's sfumato, or Durer's hatchings? How about Monet's
brushstrokes? This sounds easy, but it's not. I can point you to some recent
efforts in the graphics literature. This could easily turn into a senior
project, or even a PhD thesis!
The recent cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling suggests that
Michelangelo, rather than employing the Renaissance discovery
that shadows should be dark, tending toward black, instead adhered to medieval
tradition, in which shadows were fully saturated with color. If correct, then
this radically changes our view of Michelangelo and his art. If, on the other
hand, we have cleaned away Michelangelo's intended tones, as some critics
claim, then we have ruined his masterpiece forever. Read one of the many books
about the cleaning. Then read James Beck's scathing condemnation of it in
Art Restoration: the Culture, the Business, and the Scandal. Who is
Trace the scientific and artistic history of some optical theme that we
did not cover in class, such as motion blur or depth of field. If you choose
motion blur, don't forget to talk about its use in cartoon animation. If you
choose depth of field, don't forget to talk about the invention of photography
and its effect on our expectations about art. This topic will require some
digging into the literature.
Copyright © 1998 Marc Levoy
Friday, 20-Feb-1998 13:47:05 PST