CS 351: Syllabus

Title image Spring 2017

Syllabus for Spring 2017

Topics and Reading Assignments

Course Description

An introduction to computer graphics covering 2-D graphic primitives, clipping graphic objects to boundaries, linear transformations, creating and representing 3-D objects, converting 3-D models into 2-D images, and rendering complex 3-D scenes made of thousands of polygons. Students will build a comprehensive 3-D rendering engine in sequential weekly projects for which they generate images and develop portfolios of their own work.

Learning Goals

  1. Students understand and can implement the fundamental concepts of creating and manipulating images.
  2. Students understand and can implement the fundamental concepts of rendering, including matrix transformations, shading, and hidden surface removal.
  3. Students understand and can implement the fundamental concepts of modeling objects and scenes and hierarchical modeling systems.
  4. Students work in a group to design and develop 3D modeling and rendering software.
  5. Students present methods, algorithms, results, and designs in an organized and competently written manner.
  6. Students write, organize and manage a large software project.

Grading rubric and course goals.


There are many texts on computer graphics. Since this course does not focus on OpenGL, many of the available books are not appropriate. The 4th edition of the Shirley (or the 2nd or 3rd edition) book is appropriate for the course and has wider coverage than most. In the end, it doesn't really matter which book you choose. The Shirley is straightforward and covers most of what we cover in the course with varying degrees of depth. If you want more depth on graphics mathematics, try one of the graphics math texts, although you'll get most of what you need from the Shirley text and the lectures.

P. Shirley, Fundamentals of Computer Graphics, 4th ed, AK Peters Ltd, 2015. (recommended text)

A. Watt, 3D Computer Graphics, 3rd Ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 2000. (alternative text)

D. F. Rogers, Procedural Elements for Computer Graphics, 2nd Ed., McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA, 1998. (recommended text)

Hearn, D., and M. P. Baker, Computer Graphics (C Version), 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997. (alternative text)

Foley, Van Dam, Feiner, Hughes, and Phillips, Introduction to Computer Graphics, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1994. (alternative text)

E. Lengyel, Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics, 2nd ed., Charles River Media, 2003. (suggested graphics math text)

D. F. Rogers and J. A. Adams, Mathematical Elements for Computer Graphics, 2nd Ed., McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA, 1990. (suggested graphics math text)

M. Mortenson, Mathematics for Computer Graphics Applications: An Introduction to the Mathematics and Geometry of Cad/Cam, Geometric Modeling, Scientific Visualization, and Other CG Applications, 2nd ed, Industrial Press, 1999. (alternative graphics math text)

P. Schnelder, D. Eberly, Geometric Tools for Computer Graphics (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling), 1st ed, Morgan Kaufmann, 2002. (alternative graphics math text)

F. Dunn and I. Parberry, 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development, 1st ed., Wordware Publishing, 2002. (alternative graphics math text)


Grading will be based on four items: projects (50%), exams(30%) your portfolio (10%), and a final presentation (10%). Your code will be graded on functionality, correctness, design, and style. Your portfolio will be judged based on completeness, complexity, and visual interest. Your final presentation will be judged based on content, presentation quality, and your ability to answer questions. Your portfolio will be the primary personalized aspect of the course. It incorporates the concept of extensions, in that you can put together a complete portfolio for 80% of that grade, but increase that by creating additional pieces that demonstrate interesting computer graphics concepts.

Programming Assignments & Portfolio:

The course incorporates a number of sequential assignments. As part of each assignment you will create pictures. There will always be 1-2 required pictures; you should also create 2 or more pictures of your own design for your portfolio with each assignment.

Late Policy: Quite simply, don't fall behind. Since every assignment will build on the previous one, it is essential that you keep up. If you don't, I don't really need to assess a penalty since you won't complete the next assignment very well either.

However, the policy will be as follows. Any assignment turned in by the due date will receive full credit for the work completed. Any assignment turned in after the due date will be graded on a reduced scale, but no less than 80% (24 out of 30). The final exam date is the last day on which work will be accepted.

Collaboration on assignment concepts and ideas is acceptable, but you need to understand everything you do, and your code should be your own group's code. If you use ideas from another group, you must indicate that within your code or writeup. Err on the side of caution. The worst thing that can happen is the professor noticing disturbing similarities in homeworks or assignments with no attribution of credit. Please see the Academic Honesty guidelines below.

30-Minute Rule:

You will encounter difficulties in this course. If you have been stuck on a problem for more than 30 minutes and have made no progress, despite your best efforts, please stop and get help. Email one of us, or consult a peer. If you don't get an answer immediately, do something else for a while. Please do not waste your time on one problem.


For each assignment, you will put together a web or wiki page for the writeup. The writeup should describe the assignment, explain any required theory, and present the results. Your audience for the writeup is your fellow students who might be interested in what you're doing. To hand in your code use the handin server. The professor should be able to compile your code using make.

Weekly Topics and Readings

  • Introduction, course concept
  • Representing images
  • C/C++
Shirley, Chapters 1, 3
  • Working with images
  • Graphics primitives
  • Line drawing
Shirley, Chapters 2, 3
  • Circles, Ellipses
  • Polygons
  • Filled objects
Shirley, Chapter 3
  • Rasterization
  • Scanline fill
  • anti-aliasing
Shirley, Chapters 3, 4
  • 2-D transformations
  • 2-D viewing / clipping
  • Hierarchical modeling
Shirley, Chapters 5, 6
  • 3-D transformations
  • Review
  • Midterm Exam
Shirley, Chapters 5, 6
  • 3-D Viewing
  • Orthographic projection
  • Perspective projection
Shirley, Chapter 7
  • 3-D Object models
  • Splines, Bezier curves and surfaces
  • Hidden surface removal
Shirley, Chapters 2, 8, 13, 15
  • Z-buffer algorithm
  • Shading
  • Illumination models
Shirley, Chapters 8, 9, 19, 20, 24
  • Rendering algorithms
  • Shadows
Shirley, Chapters 10, 12
  • Texture mapping
  • Animation
Shirley, Chapters 11, 16
  • Particle systems
  • Behavioral modeling
Shirley, Chapter 16
  • Ray tracing
  • Radiosity
Shirley, Chapters 10, 19, 23

Collaboration and Academic Honesty

Computer science, both academically and professionally, is a collaborative discipline. In any collaboration, however, all parties are expected to make their own contributions and to generously credit the contributions of others. In our class, therefore, collaboration on homework and programming assignments is encouraged, but you as an individual are responsible for understanding all the material in the assignment and doing your own work. Always strive to do your best, give generous credit to others, start early, and seek help early from both your professors and classmates.

The following rules are intended to help you get the most out of your education and to clarify the line between honest and dishonest work. We reserve the right to ask you to verbally explain the reasoning behind any answer or code that you turn in and to modify your project grade based on your answers. It is vitally important that you turn in work that is your own. We do use automated plagiarism detection software, so please be sure to abide by these, rather minimal, rules. Reports of academic dishonesty are handled by an academic review board and a finding of academic dishonesty may result in significant sanctions. For more details on Colby’s Academic Integrity policies and procedures, see www.colby.edu/academicintegrity/.

If you have had a substantive discussion of any homework or programming solution with a classmate, then be sure to cite them in your write-up. If you are unsure of what constitutes "substantive", then ask us or err on the side of caution. As one rule of thumb, if you see more than 10 lines of someone else's code, then you should cite them. You will not be penalized for working together. You must not copy answers or code from another student either by hand or electronically. Another way to think about it is that you should be talking English with one another, not Java.

The Colby Affirmation

Colby College is a community dedicated to learning and committed to the growth and well-being of all its members.

As a community devoted to intellectual growth, we value academic integrity. We agree to take ownership of our academic work, to submit only work that is our own, to fully acknowledge the research and ideas of others in our work, and to abide by the instructions and regulations governing academic work established by the faculty.

As a community built on respect for ourselves, each other, and our physical environment, we recognize the diversity of people who have gathered here and that genuine inclusivity requires active, honest, and compassionate engagement with one another. We agree to respect each other, to honor community expectations, and to comply with College policies.

As a member of this community, I pledge to hold myself and others accountable to these values.

Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Statement

Colby College prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination of any kind. Colby is legally obligated to investigate sexual misconduct (including, but not limited to sexual assault and sexual harassment).

If you wish to speak confidentially about an incident of sexual misconduct, please contact Colby Counseling Services (207-859-4490) or the Director of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Program, Emily Schusterbauer (207-859-4093).

Students should be aware that faculty members are considered responsible employees; as such, if you disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to a faculty member, they have an obligation to report it to Colby's Title IX Coordinator. "Disclosure" may include communication in-person, via email/phone/text, or through class assignments.

To learn more about sexual misconduct or report an incident, visit http://www.colby.edu/sexualviolence/.