CS180: Introduction to Computer Graphics

Fall 2021

Important Note and Disclaimer from the Instructor

As required by the university, this course must be taken in person. I will record the lectures by myself so you can access the lectures online asynchronously. But please note that recording the lectures is completely my own voluntary work (unpaid and not required). I may forget to record. I may fail to record because I'm not familiar with related techs. The quality of recorded lectures cannot be guaranteed. And I may stop recording immediately if any student is unhappy to see their face / hear their voice in the recorded video. Also, the lectures will not be streamed online for synchronous access.
Therefore, you CANNOT take this course remotely. After all, the exams have to be taken in a classroom.

Course Description
[Shadows Demo by NVIDIA]
[Pen Tool in Adobe Photoshop]
[Whitted Style Ray Tracing]
[Fluid Simulation by Muller et al.]

This course is an introduction to the foundations of three-dimensional computer graphics. Topics covered include 2D and 3D transformations, Rasterization based interactive 3D graphics, shading and reflectance models, texture mapping, geometric modeling using Bézier and B-Spline curves, ray tracing, and animation. There will be an emphasis on both the mathematical and geometric aspects of graphics, as well as the ability to write fully functional 3D graphics programs.

Pre-requisites for the course:
Linear algebra, C++ Programming, Algorithm, Data Structure

Instructor's Announcement

Welcome to the CS180, Introduction to Computer Graphics! In this course, you will learn almost everything about MODERN topics in Computer Graphics. You don't have to write any GPU code, such as OpenGL and its shading language GLSL, so you can focus on the ideas and algorithms rather than painful GPU implementation and debugging. That being said, we do require C++ programming, which is difficult to replace for its high performance and handy libraries.

We are also aware that not all the students are clear what this course is about. Mostly, there's confusion between this Computer Graphics course and other Computer Vision courses. We suggest that you read the syllabus below, to find whether this is the course that you are looking for. Basically, this course does not involve any "guesses", so it is not related to Machine Learning and Data Science. It is about understanding the mechanics that the real world and the computers generate and represent visual information. This course is not about how to use tools to create 3D scenes like an artist either, but it will tell you the science behind these tools to make animations and movies.


Lingqi Yan
Email: lingqi@cs.ucsb.edu
Office hour: Mondays 11 AM - 11:45 AM (PT), Zoom ID 950 195 8042

Teaching Assistants

Yaoyi Bai
Email: yaoyibai@cs.ucsb.edu
Office hour: Mondays 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (PT), Zoom Link

Arthur Caetano
Email: caetano@umail.ucsb.edu
Office hour: Fridays 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (PT), Zoom Link

Sign up on Piazza for course announcements, discussion and Q/A!

Time and Locations

Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM (PT), SH 1431

Discussion Sections:
9:00AM - 9:50AM (PT), GIRV 2129
10:00AM - 10:50AM (PT), GIRV 2129 Zoom

Note: The lectures will be in person, but your attendance is NOT required / checked due to COVID. UnofficiallyFriday from 1pm to 2pm recorded lectures by the instructor will be tentatively provided, though no guarantee and the quality may compromise. Following the university's requirement, both the instructor and the students must wear masks throughout the lectures. Otherwise, the instructor is entitled to cancel the lecture for that day.
Access to the recorded lectures are for UCSB students only. The instructor might consider making the course materials publicly available after this quarter, but it is strictly prohibited to record, spread and / or publicize the course contents by students.
It seems that there's still no restrictions on whether the discussion sections will be in person or online. So we will tentatively have online sections in the beginning till further notice. Therefore, the two sections every week will be combined into one from 10:00 AM to 10:50 AM. The sections will be tentatively recorded by the TAs (and the same disclaimer in the beginning of this webpage applies here). The Zoom link will be announced to you by a leading TA every week.

Books Recommended

There are no required textbooks for this course. The lecture slides and discussion materials will be your main references. Other related reading materials will be available to access from this course website before lectures.

Optional references:
Steve Marschner and Peter Shirley, "Fundamentals of Computer Graphics", 3rd or later edition. (Recommended as "Reading" of each lecture)
Tomas Akenine-Möller et al., "Real-Time Rendering", 3rd or later edition. (Electronic version of the 4th edition is available in UCSB library.)

Assignments and Grading

Your assignments are weekly, mostly programming tasks. We have optimized your implementation workload, so you are usually expected to write NO MORE THAN 20 LINES OF CODE per week. Besides, we provide code skeleton for each assignment, along with a pre-configured Ubuntu virtual machine for you to get started smoothly.

All assignments are due by 11:59PM PT on the dates specified. You should plan ahead. Each late day will cause a 10% off the final score of the corresponding assignment. We will use Gauchospace for submissions. Detailed submission guidelines will be in the assignment descriptions.

You will work on the assignments individually. Each assignment takes 8% of your final grade.

There will be one midterm exam and one final exam. Both exams are in written form and will be taken in person (detail TBD as the quarter proceeds). Each exam takes up 18% of your final grade. And the contents of the two exams will not overlap.

There will be no final projects of this course. However, in case of an unexpected shutdown, the exams may have to be canceled. We will replace any missing exam(s) with a final project. You will be working on this project individually. And the topic of the project can be arbitrarily selected from all the topics covered in this course.

Course Syllabus

Here's a tentative schedule. Due to the pandemic, it is relatively fluid and may change (quite frequently) as the quarter progresses.

You need a UCSB account to access the PDF slides and the recorded videos.

Week Date Topics
1 Sep 23 Overview of Computer Graphics [Slides] [No Video]
2 Sep 28 Vectors and Linear Algebra [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 2 (Miscellaneous Math) and Chapter 5 (Linear Algebra)
Sep 30 Transformation 1 (2D Transformations) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 6 (Transformation Matrices), Sections 6.1 and 6.3
3 Oct 5 Transformation 2 (3D Transformations and Viewing) [Slides] [Video] [Supplementary]
Reading: Chapter 6 (Transformation Matrices), Sections 6.2, 6.4 and 6.5;
Chapter 7 (Viewing), Sections 7.1 and 7.2
Oct 7 Transformation 3 (Projection) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 7 (Viewing)
4 Oct 12 Rasterization 1 (Raster Devices and Sampling) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 3 (Raster Images), Sections 3.1 and 3.2;
Chapter 7 (Viewing), Section 7.1.1; Chapter 8 (The Graphics Pipeline), Section 8.1
Oct 14 Rasterization 2 (Antialiasing and Z-Buffering) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 8 (The Graphics Pipeline), Sections 8.2 and 8.3
5 Oct 19 Shading 1 (Illumination and Blinn-Phong Model) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 10 (Surface Shading), Sections 10.1 and 10.2
Oct 21 Shading 2 (Graphics Pipeline and Texture Mapping) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 11 (Texture Mapping), Sections 11.1 and 11.2
6 Oct 26 Shading 3 (Texture Mapping cont.) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 11 (Texture Mapping), Sections 11.3 and 11.4
Oct 28 Midterm Exam
7 Nov 2 Geometry 1 (Introduction) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: N/A
Nov 4 Geometry 2 (Curves and Splines) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 15 (Curves), Sections 15.1, 15.2, 15.3
8 Nov 9 Geometry 3 (Surfaces) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: N/A
Nov 11 No Class (Veterans' Day)
9 Nov 16 Ray Tracing 1 (Introduction) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 4 (Ray Tracing)
Nov 18 Ray Tracing 2 (Acceleration) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 12 (Data Structures for Graphics), Sections 12.1 to 12.3
10 Nov 23 Color [Slides] [Video]
Reading: N/A
Nov 25 No Class (Thanksgiving)
11 Nov 30 Animation 1 (Introduction and Mass Spring System) [Slides] [Video]
Reading: Chapter 16 (Computer Animation), Sections 16.1, 16.2
Dec 2 Animation 2 (Simulation and Kinematics) [Slides] [No Video]
Reading: Chapter 16 (Computer Animation), Section 16.5
12 Dec 8 Final Exam

Programming and Collaboration Policy

Programming projects are to be implemented individually from scratch. That is, you should not derive solutions from existing sources or previous instances of this course (including previous postings from the online course, at other universities etc.). Discussion of programming projects is allowed and encouraged, but copying of solutions or code from other students, or from students who previously took this course in any university or online setting is not allowed. If you do obtain substantial help from the instructor, teaching assistant/tutor or another student, you must document this in your program. Furthermore, you should in general not copy code from other sources. If in doubt, please ask. Further specifics are given in the assignment specifications.

To repeat, you may not copy solutions or code from other students, or students who previously took this or a similar class at a university or online. You must clearly declare any code and ideas that came directly from others, as opposed to what you created yourself. If you fail to do so, we can only assume you are presenting your own work. Of course, presenting other people's work as your own is academic dishonesty. Students who engage in dishonest activities, with an intent to alter their grade, will receive an F for the course and be reported to the University for further action. Note that you will also be held liable for publicly posting your code on Github or other public websites, if another student subsequently copies from it.


Students with documented disability are welcome to contact the DSP office to arrange the necessary academic accommodations. We will also spare no efforts to help.