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The term computer graphics includes almost everything on computers that is not text or sound. Today almost every computer can do some graphics, and people have even come to expect to control their computer through icons and pictures rather than just by typing.

Here in our lab at the Program of Computer Graphics, we think of computer graphics as drawing pictures on computers, also called rendering. The pictures can be photographs, drawings, movies, or simulations — pictures of things which do not yet exist and maybe could never exist. Or they may be pictures from places we cannot see directly, such as medical images from inside your body.

We spend much of our time improving the way computer pictures can simulate real world scenes. We want images on computers to not just look more realistic, but also to BE more realistic in their colors, the way objects and rooms are lighted, and the way different materials appear. We call this work “realistic image synthesis”, and the following series of pictures will show some of our techniques in stages from very simple pictures through very realistic ones.