Expressive Volume Rendering

Penny Rheingans
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Baltimore, MD 21250




The goal of visualization is to visually represent features of interest in a large data set for the purposes of sparking discovery or aiding communication. For centuries, artists, particularly scientific illustrators, have been honing techniques for capturing and conveying the essential nature of their subjects. Incorporating artistic techniques into data visualization has the potential to increase the effectiveness of a wide range of types of visualization. We have introduced the volume illustration approach, combining the familiarity of a physics-based illumination model with the ability to enhance important features using illustration techniques. Volume illustration provides a flexible unified framework for enhancing structural perception of volume models through the amplification of features, the addition of illumination effects, and the application of procedural textures. Volume illustration works on both presampled and procedurally defined volume models, enabling a range of image styles from practical technical illustrations to more abstract painterly effects. I will first present some techniques from painting and technical illustration for conveying shape and depth, particularly those relevant for translucent subjects. After that, I will describe the volume illustration approach and present some results from this investigation. Finally, I will speculate on the potential for applying artistic techniques to other types of visualization.