CMSC 435/634: Introduction to Computer Graphics

TuTh 2:30-3:45, ITE 227

Last update:
Sun May 11 16:27:52 EDT 2008
Tue May 6 10:01:56 EDT 2008
Thu May 1 14:26:55 EDT 2008
Thu Apr 17 16:24:25 EDT 2008

Instructor: Dr. Marc Olano (
ITE 354 (455-3094); Office Hours: Thu 4:00-6:00

TA: Pankaj Chaudhari (
ITE 353; Office Hours: Tue 4:00-6:00; Wed 4:00-6:00

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. 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 14
Assn 2 10% Modeling Mar 4
Assn 3 10% Viewing Mar 14
Assn 4 10% Visibility Apr 16
Assn 5 10% Lighting Apr 30
Assn 6 10% Shading May 13

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

You may find this grade checker useful for tracking your progress.

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 the readme.txt submitted with each assignment, you must include a statement 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 statement with your assignment will result in your program being returned ungraded.

Tentative Schedule

Required reading should be completed BEFORE the first date listed below for maximum benefit.

Date Topic Reading Due
Jan 29/31 Overview, RenderMan, Vectors 1-2
Feb 5/7 Transforms 5-6
Feb 12/14 Modeling Assn 1
Feb 19/21 Viewing 7
Feb 26/28 Display, Rasterization 3
Mar 4/6 Rasterization, Clipping 12 Assn 2
Mar 11/13 Visibility, Ray Tracing 8, 10 Assn 3
Mar 25/27 Review; MIDTERM
Apr 1/3 Ray Tracing, Midterm review 4, 19-20
Apr 8/10 Anti-aliasing, Local Illumination 9, 24
Apr 15/17 Local & Global Illumination 23 Assn 4
Apr 22/24 Shading 11
Apr 29/May 1 GPU Shading Assn 5
May 6/8 Texturing

May 13 Review Assn 6
May 15 Final Exam 1-3 PM


There is a class web page,, where you will find this syllabus online, except you can follow all of the 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.

There is a class mailing list Announcements will be made to this list, and you can also use it for public communication with your classmates, the TA and instructor. To prevent spam, you will only be able to send to the list from your email account. Please only send messages appropriate for the entire class to see, be sure to send messages about grades or other private matters directly to the instructor or TA.

Dr. Penny Rheingans has some online notes from previous offerings of this course.

RenderMan Resources

OpenGL Resources