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Global illumination rendering

Global illumination is a general name for a group of algorithms used in 3D computer graphics that are meant to add more realistic lighting to 3D scenes. Such algorithms take into account not only the light which comes directly from a light source (direct illumination), but also subsequent cases in which light rays from the same source are reflected by other surfaces in the scene (indirect illumination).

Theoretically reflections, refractions, and shadows are all examples of global illumination, because when simulating them, one object affects the rendering of another object (as opposed to an object being affected only by a direct light). In practice, however, only the simulation of diffuse inter-reflection or caustics is called global illumination.

Radiosity, ray tracing, beam tracing, cone tracing, path tracing, metropolis light transport, ambient occlusion, photon mapping, and image based lighting are examples of algorithms used in global illumination, some of which may be used together to yield results that are fast, but accurate. Find out more...