Time Tuesdays and Thursdays (TTh) at 9:00am - 10:20am
Place CMU 120
Final Wednesday, June 8 at 10:30am-12:20pm in CMU 120
Staff Name Email
Instructor Brian Curless curless@cs
TA Francis Ge fge3@cs
TA Sonja Khan sonjak3@cs
Staff Email: cse457-staff@cs



If you are a CS or CE major, and you have satisfied the prerequisites, then you should be able to sign up for the course directly. Otherwise, if you have satisfied the prerequisites or have comparable background but are not currently a CS or CE major, you need to file a petition with the undergraduate advisers. You should attend class until the outcome of the petition is decided. You should also sign up on the overload form that the instructor will bring to the first day of class.


Required Textbook

The required text for this course is: Edward Angel and Dave Shreiner, Interactive Computer Graphics: A top-down approach with OpenGL, Sixth Edition. 2012. Addison-Wesley. Additional readings will be posted next to the lecture notes on the lectures page. Textbook Errata (corrected errors).

Supplemental texts

Topics Covered


The breakdown is subject to change as a whole and adjustments on a per-student basis in exceptional cases. This is the general breakdown we'll be using:

Projects 60%
Homeworks 20%
Final Exam 20%

Projects will be done in teams of two with room for extra credit as described in the next section. Homeworks are to be completed individually. Though you may discuss the problems with others, your answers must be your own. There is no midterm. The final is closed book.


There will be four projects. You'll work or in teams of two for the projects. You are encouraged to change partners for each project -- each time you work with someone you have not worked with before in the class, you will receive a bell's worth of extra credit. Each project will require you to extend some skeleton project with new features to create a working graphics application.

Project #1: Impressionist

An interactive impressionistic paint system, similar in spirit to Paul Haeberli's The Impressionist.

Project #2: Modeler

A viewer in which to construct a hierarchical articulated model using OpenGL.

Project #3: Trace

A program to create photorealistic raytraced images, complete computation of shadows, reflections, and transparent effects.

Project #4: Animator

An extension of project #2 which includes 2D curves to control joint angles and other parameters of your model and particle systems for physical simulation. Create a 3D animation of your articulated model!

You will have approximately two weeks for each project. Beyond the required extensions to the base project, you are encouraged to attempt bells and whistles, which translate into extra credit points.

Project Grading


Projects are graded during 15-20 minute in-person grading sessions. A web-based sign up sheet will be posted prior to each grading day.

Grading sessions will consist of:


Completed project requirements will be graded on a 60-point scale. In general, every team member will receive the same project implementation grade (although not necessarily the same project knowledge grade). However, we reserve the right to give different project implementation grades to different students on the team, for extreme circumstances in which it is clear that one or more members of the team contributed little or nothing to the project.

Project knowledge

Project knowledge will be graded on a 30-point scale, separately for each team member. Here's a rough breakdown to give you a feeling for how points will be assigned:

10pt Almost clueless: Answers to questions showed a severe lack of understanding. (I don't expect anybody to get this grade!)
20pt Answers to questions showed an understanding at only a superficial level.
30pt Answers to questions demonstrated a thorough understanding of the project. This is is the grade we expect to give almost all of the time.

Extra credit

Unlimited extra credit is possible on each project. Each extra credit item is rated with a nominal value of "bells" and "whistles". One bell carries the same credit as two whistles. An actual implementation of an extra credit item may be worth somewhat more or less than its nominal value, depending on how well it was implemented. In the end, the instructor and TA's will translate your bell and whistle count into an actual number of extra credit points at a rate of 1 point per bell.


For each project both team members will be required to create an artifact, a final polished example (e.g., an image or model) demonstrating your application, hopefully of some artistic merit. Extra credit will be given for the nicest artifacts, as determined by class vote.

Turn-in and Late Policy

Written homework assignments are due at the beginning of lecture on the due date. Projects are due by midnight on the due date. Late assignments are marked down at a rate of 25% per day (not per lecture), meaning that if you fail to turn in an assignment on time it is worth 75% for the first 24 hours after the deadline, 50% for the next 24 hours, 25% for the next 24 hours, and then it is worth nothing after that. In addition, no extra credit for bells and whistles will be awarded for any late assignment. Exceptions will be given only in extreme circumstances with prior instructor approval.

Getting Help

You may talk to other students in the course about concepts for homeworks and projects, but you may not take any code or notes away from those conversations. A good rule of thumb is the Gilligan's Island Rule.

The Gilligan's Island Rule: This rule says that you are free to meet with fellow student(s) and discuss assignments with them. Writing on a board or shared piece of paper is acceptable during the meeting; however, you should not take any written (electronic or otherwise) record away from the meeting. This applies when the assignment is supposed to be an individual effort or whenever two teams discuss common problems they are each encountering (inter-group collaboration). After the meeting, engage in a half hour of mind-numbing activity (like watching an episode of Gilligan's Island), before starting to work on the assignment. This will assure that you are able to reconstruct what you learned from the meeting, by yourself, using your own brain.