CMSC 435/634: Introduction to Computer Graphics

Spring 2014, TuTh 1:00 – 2:15, SHER 013

Instructor: Dr. Marc Olano <>
ITE 354 (455-3094); Office Hours: Wed 3:00-5:00

TA: Alisa Burdeyny <>
ITE 353; Office Hours: Tu 11:30-12:30 / Th 4:00-5:00

Prerequisite: MATH 221 (Linear Algebra), CMSC 313 (or other class covering C), CMSC 341 (Data Structures)
(Yes, we will make heavy use of the prerequisites)


Description: Introduction to graphics systems, rasterization, clipping, transformations, modeling, viewing, hidden surface removal, illumination, and shading. Emphasis on realistic, 3D image synthesis.


  1. Understand the foundations of computer graphics: hardware systems, math basis, light and color.
  2. Implement key components of the rendering pipeline. Understand the issues involved in implementing other components.
  3. Come to appreciate the complexities of modeling realistic objects through modeling complex scenes using a high-level scene description language.
  4. Become acquainted with some advanced topics in computer graphics; these might include texturing, animation, physically-based modeling, procedural modeling, curves and surfaces, global illumination, interaction, visualization, and virtual reality.

Grades: Grades will be based on programming assignments (60%), a midterm exam (15%), and a final exam (25%).

Assignments: Programming assignments require the use of the C/C++ programming language. These assignments may be time-consuming. START EARLY! A tentative list is given below:

Assignment Weight Description Due Date
Assn 1 10% Ray Tracing I Feb 12
Assn 2 10% Ray Tracing II Feb 26
Assn 3 10% Viewing Mar 12
Assn 4 10% Modeling Apr 14
Assn 5 10% Shading Apr 25
Assn 6 10% Animation May 9

Students taking the course for graduate credit (i.e. CMSC 634) will be expected to do extra readings and extra parts on each assignment.

I do not use blackboard. You may find this grade checker useful for tracking your progress.

Late Policy

Assignments are to be submitted electronically by 11:59 PM on Wednesday of the week listed. Assignments submitted up to two days late (by Friday) will be penalized 15 percent of the possible score. Assignments more than two days late will receive a score of 0. Each student gets one free "late" (i.e. up to two days late without penalty, but still zero if later than two days) to apply to any of the assignments. Your free late must be claimed in writing or by email on or before the original due date.

Academic Honesty

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.

All assignments and exams in the course are expected to be your INDIVIDUAL work. You area allowed to discuss programming assignments, but must do the coding yourself: words and math are OK, code is not. Any help you receive must be documented. At the beginning of the readme.txt submitted with each assignment, you must include a statement indicating the sources you used while working on it (excluding course staff and text) and the type of help you received from each. If you received no help, say so. Failure to include this statement with your assignment will result in your program being returned ungraded. For example, "I discussed the algorithms for this project with my study group, including student X and student Y. I also found some helpful descriptions on"

Tentative Schedule

Required reading from the book should be completed BEFORE the first date listed below for maximum benefit.

Date Topic Reading Due
Jan 28/30 Overview / Displays 1, 2
Feb 4/6 Math / Ray Tracing 3, 4, 13
Feb 11/13 Transforms 5, 6 Assn 1
Feb 18/20 Viewing 7
Feb 25/27 Modeling 12, 15, 16 Assn 2
Mar 4/6 Light & Illumination 10, 20, 21, 25  
Mar 11/13 Illumination   Assn 3
Mar 25/27 Review; MIDTERM
Apr 1/3 Texture 11
Apr 8/10 Shading    
Apr 15/17 Clipping / Rasterization / Visibility 8 Assn 4 (due Monday)
Apr 22/24 Animation 17-18 Assn 5 (due Friday)
Apr 29/May 1 Aliasing 9  
May 6/8 Hardware / Global Illumination 14, 24 Assn 6 (due Friday)
May 13 Review  
May 20 FINAL EXAM 1:00-3:00


There is a class web page,, (or 634) where you will find this syllabus online, except you can follow all of the links. Important announcements and updates will be made to this class web page throughout the semester. I will announce at the beginning of class if I make a significant change or addition.

There is a class piazza site for this class. Everyone will be added to this site. Announcements will be made there, and you can also use it for public communication with your classmates, the TA and instructor. You should either check this site periodically, or make sure it is set to send you messages by email. Please only post messages appropriate for the entire class to see. Be sure to send messages about grades or other private matters directly to the instructor or TA.

Dr. Rheingans has some online notes from previous offerings of this course.

OpenGL Resources