CSCI 4229/5229 Computer Graphics, Fall 2009

Instructor: Willem A. (Vlakkies) Schreüder


Course Objectives

The course is targeted at students with a wide range of backgrounds in Computer Graphics, ranging from students with no previous experience to students with undergraduate courses in Computer Graphics. The course teaches the fundamental theory of Computer Graphics illustrated using practical applications using OpenGL.

Lectures cover fundamental techniques of computer graphics such as 2D and 3D viewing, transformations, drawing lines and polygons, clipping and color to advanced techniques such as lighting, textures, shadows and shaders. OpenGL is used to illustrate implementation of these techniques.

Weekly assignments comprise a sequence of increasingly complex OpenGL programs that seeks to build practical experience using OpenGL. The final assignment is a course project which is an OpenGL program of the students choosing.


There is no midterm or final examination. The grade is entirely based on weekly assignments and the course project.

The assignments for the graduate and undergraduate students are the same, but more is expected from graduate students, especially for the class project.


Students should be comfortable with basic linear algebra, data structures and algorithms. It is assumed that that students have read fluency in the C programming language since all example programs will be in C. Students should be comfortable programming in a high level language such as C or C++ for which OpenGL bindings are available.


There is one assignment per week for the first eight weeks. Assignments generally build on previous assignments in that they become more complex, and code reuse from previous assignments will simplify successive assignments.

Assignments may be completed using a computer language and platform of the student's choice, although C or C++ on a Windows, OS/X or *NIX environment is preferred. CSEL is available to complete the assignments and for testing. Writing portable code that will run on any operating system is stressed.

Assignments will be graded on a GNU/Linux system. Programs should contain #ifdef statements to facilitate compilation on this system. Students using exotic programming languages will be expected to aid the instructor in setting up a suitable environment for grading the assignments.

Assignments must be submitted via moodle. Assignments are due at 11:59pm on the due date. The grace period for all assignments is until 06:30 am the next day. Late assignments will not be accepted unless previously arranged.

CATAE students are encouraged to submit assignments on the same schedule as on campus students, but special accomodations will be made on an individual basis.

Course Project

The course project involves writing a significant graphics program. It is intended to be approximately one third of the overall course load and is due by the last day of class.

Potential projects would be a scientific visualization application, a game or any application with a heavy graphical emphasis. Students are encouraged to develop an application that is useful in some other aspect of their studies or work. To accommodate this students are given wide latitude in terms of platform and language of implementation. However, in order to facilitate grading, this should be done in coordination with the instructor.

A formal proposal is used to ensure that the project is appropriate in terms of scope and degree of difficulty.

Students are encouraged to do an oral presentation of their project during class near the end of the semester. The oral presentation is optional but highly encouraged.


All assignments including the course project are to be completed individually. Exceptions to this rule may be made by prior arrangement if the scope of the project is particularly ambitious.

Each assignment should reflect each student's individual work. However, code reuse is permitted, including example code from the class as well as code from resources on the web. A "safe harbor" in this regard is simply a comment indicating where code from another source is reused.

Where code is reused, it is expected that students should make the code their own, and improve and expand on what is provided.

Tentative Course Outline

Week 1:
Introduction to Computer Graphics
Hello World in OpenGL
Week 2:
Drawing in 2D
Clipping lines and polygons
Week 3:
Homogeneous Coordinates
Drawing in 3D: Object Visibility
Week 4:
Constructing 3D objects
Projections: Theory
Week 5:
Projections: Applications
Week 6:
Color and Light
Week 7:
Texture mapping
Week 8:
Applications of lighting and textures
Week 9:
Advanced lighting
Week 10:
Special effects: Fog
Rasterization algorithms
Rendering Polygons and Tesselation
Week 11:
Display lists
Object models and files
Parametric Curves and Surfaces
Week 12:
Parametric Objects
Simple Shadows
Week 13:
Advanced Shadows
Week 14:
Overview of Shaders
GLSL examples
Week 15:
Project presentations


OpenGL: A Primer, 3/E by Edward Angel
An excellent introduction to the fundamentals of OpenGL. Very readable and a great way to get started. Inexpensive.
The OpenGL Programming Guide 5/E The Red Book
This is a very thorough introduction to OpenGL and is highly recommended. The 5th edition covers OpenGL 2.0. Older versions of this book is available online and is generally sufficient for the course.
The OpenGL Reference Manual The Blue Book
The reference manual provides details of OpenGL API. Also available online.
OpenGl Super Bible
A comprehensive tutorial and reference. Very complete including advanced topics.
OpenGL documentation, code and links.
NeHe OpenGL Tutorials
A series of tutorials and articles covering simple to complex OpenGL operations together with implementation for many different platforms.
Some books are also availble electronically through the library using Safari.