Principles of Digital Image Synthesis

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Principles of Digital Image Synthesis, Volume 1Principles of Digital Image Synthesis, Volume 2This is a two-volume book on the fundamentals for using a computer to create realistic, synthetic images of 3D scenes. The book is constructed upon three basic fields of knowledge, which I believe form the basis for modern digital image synthesis: the human visual system, signal processing, and energy transport.

Although these fields are inter-related, I emphasize each of these topics in its own set of chapters. They all come together in the fourth part of the book where I discuss rendering systems in the large. The appendices provide reference data, historical notes, and background information on topics such as probability and linear algebra.

The book is intended to be useful in both the classroom and for independent study. I assume the reader has some background in calculus, but that’s about the limit of the prerequisites. The book includes some new research material that I have only published in a very reduced or schematic form; here it’s expanded quite a bit.

The book is about 1400 pages long (including a 56-page index), and published in two hardbound volumes. There are almost 90 color plates and over 800 figures. The book is dedicated to the inspiring spirit of Leonardo da Vinci, and his quotes open both volumes, as well as all major sections.

The book was very expensive to produce and buy, so the publisher let it go out of print a few years ago. But people still wanted it, and they were snapping up older copies online. In a remarkable act of generosity, two people stepped up to make things better. First, Eric Haines encouraged me to convince the publisher to revert the rights back to me, so that I could put a PDF of the book online for free. Even better, Iliyan Georgiev volunteered to take all my existing errata and update the PDF to include them!

The result is that you can now download, for free, both volumes of the entire book, with corrections to every error I’m aware of. Eric Haines is hosting this PDF on his Real Time Rendering website, for which I am grateful. To read and/or download the entire two-volume PDF, merely click here.

Here’s the table of contents of the two volumes.

  • 1 The Human Visual System
  • 2 Color Spaces
  • 3 Displays
  • 4 Signals and Systems
  • 5 Fourier Transforms
  • 6 Wavelets
  • 7 Monte Carlo Integration
  • 8 Uniform Sampling and Reconstruction
  • 9 Non-Uniform Sampling and Reconstruction
  • 10 Survey of Sampling and Reconstruction Techniques
  • 11 Light
  • 12 Energy Transport
  • 13 Radiometry
  • 14 Materials
  • 15 Shading
  • 16 Integral Equations
  • 17 The Radiance Equation
  • 18 Radiosity
  • 19 Ray Tracing
  • 20 Rendering and Images
  • 21 The Future
  • Appendix A Linear Algebra
  • Appendix B Probability
  • Appendix C Historical Notes
  • Appendix D Analytic Form Factors
  • Appendix E Constants and Units
  • Appendix F Luminaire Standards
  • Appendix G Reference Data

If you’re really keen to have a hardbound copy of the book, you can sometimes find copies online at places like Abe’s Books or Amazon. If you do have the hardcopy, you might want to check out the list of errata so you don’t have to stumble over typos.