CMSC 435/634: Introduction to Computer Graphics

MW 2:00-3:15, ITE 241

Last updates:
Wed May 5 13:58:19 EDT 2004
Fri Apr 23 10:37:28 EDT 2004
Wed Apr 14 20:50:57 EDT 2004
Tue Apr 13 10:38:51 EDT 2004

Instructor: Dr. Marc Olano (olano
ITE 354 (455-3094); Office Hours: Tue 3-5

TA: Kamalika Das (kdas1
ITE 352; Office Hours: M 3:30-5:30, Th 4:30-6:30

Prerequisite: MATH 221 (Linear Algebra), CMSC 341 (Data Structures)
(Yes, we will make heavy use of both prerequisites)


Description: Introduction to graphics systems, rasterization, clipping, transformations, modeling, viewing, hidden surface removal, illumination, and shading. Emphasis on realistic, 3D image synthesis.


  1. Understand the foundations of computer graphics: hardware systems, math basis, light and color.
  2. Implement key components of the rendering pipeline, especially visibility, rasterization, viewing, and shading. Understand the issues involved in implementing other components.
  3. Come to appreciate the complexities of modeling realistic objects through modeling complex scenes using a high-level scene description language.
  4. Become acquainted with some advanced topics in computer graphics; these might include texturing, animation, physically-based modeling, procedural modeling, curves and surfaces, global illumination, interaction, visualization, and virtual reality.

Grades: Grades will be based on programming assignments (55%), a midterm exam (15%), and a final exam (30%).

Assignments: Programming assignments require the use of the C/C++ programming language. These assignments may be time-consuming. START EARLY! A tentative list is given below:

Assignment Weight Description Due Date
Assn 1 5% Simple Scene Feb 12
Assn 2 10% Modeling Mar 4
Assn 3 10% Viewing Mar 11
Assn 4 10% Visibility Apr 8
Assn 5 10% Lighting Apr 22
Assn 6 10% Shading May 6

Students taking the course for graduate credit (i.e. CMSC 634) will be expected to do extra readings and parts on each assignment.

Late Policy

Assignments are to be submitted electronically by 11:59 PM of the day listed. Assignments submitted up to one week late will be penalized 20 percent of the possible score. Assignments more than one week late will receive a score of 0. Each student gets one free "late" (i.e. up to one week late without penalty, but still zero if later than one week) to apply to any of the assignments. Your free late must be claimed in writing on or before the due date.

Academic Honesty

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.

All assignments and exams in the course are expected to be your INDIVIDUAL work. You may discuss assignments with anyone. Any help you receive, however, must be documented. At the beginning of each program you must include a comment indicating the sources you used while working on it (excluding course staff and text) and the type of help you received from each. If you received no help, say so. Failure to include this comment at the top of your program will result in your program being returned ungraded.

Tentative Schedule

Required reading should be completed BEFORE the first date listed below for maximum benefit. It may also be helpful to look at Dr. Penny Rheingans' online notes from previous offerings of this course.
Date Topic Reading (S=Shirley, R=Rogers) Due
Jan 28 Overview and Review S 1-2
Feb 2/4 RenderMan, Transforms S 3.1-3.7
Feb 9/11 Transforms, Display, Rasterization S 4-5 Assn 1
Feb 16/18 Modeling S 13
Feb 23/25 Viewing S 6
Mar 1/3 Visibility S 4; R 3 Assn 2
Mar 8/10 Anti-aliasing S 15 Assn 3
Mar 15/17 Pipeline; MIDTERM S 11; R 4
Mar 29/31 Realism; Light & Vision S 16-18
Apr 5/7 Illumination S 8 Assn 4
Apr 12/14 Illumination, Texturing S 9, 19-21
Apr 19/21 Surface Shading S 10 Assn 5
Apr 25/28 Surface Shading, NPR S 22-23
May 3/5 NPR, Global Illumination Assn 6
May 10 Wrap up and Review
May 12 Final Exam, 1-3 PM

Other Graphics Resources

The class web page: (This syllabus online, where you can follow all of the following links). Important announcements and updates will be made to this class web page throughout the semester. I will announce at the beginning of class if I make a significant change or addition.

RenderMan Resources

OpenGL Resources