Visualizing nonmanifold and singular implicit surfaces with point clouds

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Journal Article
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2012, 18 (2), pp. 188 - 201
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We use octree spatial subdivision to generate point clouds on complex nonmanifold implicit surfaces in order to visualize them. The new spatial subdivision scheme only uses point sampling and an interval exclusion test. The algorithm includes a test for pruning the resulting plotting nodes so that only points in the closest nodes to the surface are used in rendering. This algorithm results in improved image quality compared to the naive use of intervals or affine arithmetic when rendering implicit surfaces, particularly in regions of high curvature. We discuss and compare CPU and GPU versions of the algorithm. We can now render nonmanifold features such as rays, ray-like tubes, cusps, ridges, thin sections that are at arbitrary angles to the octree node edges, and singular points located within plot nodes, all without artifacts. Our previous algorithm could not render these without severe aliasing. The algorithm can render the self-intersection curves of implicit surfaces by exploiting the fact that surfaces are singular where they self-intersect. It can also render the intersection curves of two implicit surfaces. We present new image space and object space algorithms for rendering these intersection curves as contours on one of the surfaces. These algorithms are better at rendering high curvature contours than our previous algorithms. To demonstrate the robustness of the node pruning algorithm we render a number of complex implicit surfaces such as high order polynomial surfaces and Gaussian curvature surfaces. We also compare the algorithm with ray casting in terms of speed and image quality. For the surfaces presented here, the point clouds can be computed in seconds to minutes on a typical Intel based PC. Once this is done, the surfaces can be rendered at much higher frame rates to allow some degree of interactive visualization. © 2012 IEEE.
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