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Realistic Real-time Rendering of Refractive Objects



Physically correct rendering of inhomogeneous refractive objects in real-time is a difficult task. Many published works which address this problem require either a lot of computational power or can only reproduce a subset of optical effects achievable by a realistic simulation of light behavior inside such structures. In this thesis, we present a way for real-time rendering of complex refractive objects, described by a volumetric representation. Our approach enables us to simulate a variety of physically motivated optical effects. The algorithm is based on the eikonal equation, the main postulate of geometric optics. We derive a system of ordinary differential equations that allows us to simulate the propagation of light rays through an inhomogeneous refractive index field. Afterwards, a powerful image formation model provides for sophisticated rendering effects, such as arbitrary varying refractive index, inhomogeneous attenuation, as well as spatially-varying anisotropic scattering and reflectance properties. We also propose an efficient wavefront propagation technique, achieved with a complexity of a particle tracer, which enables us to compute the distribution of differential irradiance values inside a volume of interest. Efficient GPU implementations enable us to render a combination of visual effects that were previously not reproducible in real-time.

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The thesis is based on the previously submitted work "Eikonal Rendering: Efficient Light Transport in Refractive Objects". It presents a detailed description of the algorithm including a description about the optical effects achieved with our approach. In the appendix I included a theoretical discussion about the rendering of opticaly anisotropic materials, such as crystals. These extend our framework to support more advanced effects, like Birefringence (double refraction) and Pleochroism.


A. Tevs, "Realistic Real-time Rendering of Refractive Objects" , Department of Computer Science, Saarland University, Germany, pages 1-89, 2007.