Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

Selective mesh refinement for rendering

Peter John Cameron Brown

April 2000, 179 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted February 1998 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Emmanuel College.


A key task in computer graphics is the rendering of complex models. As a result, there exist a large number of schemes for improving the speed of the rendering process, many of which involve displaying only a simplified version of a model. When such a simplification is generated selectively, i.e. detail is only removed in specific regions of a model, we term this selective mesh refinement.

Selective mesh refinement can potentially produce a model approximation which can be displayed at greatly reduced cost while remaining perceptually equivalent to a rendering of the original. For this reason, the field of selective mesh refinement has been the subject of dramatically increased interest recently. The resulting selective refinement methods, though, are restricted in both the types of model which they can handle and the form of output meshes which they can generate.

Our primary thesis is that a selectively refined mesh can be produced by combining fragments of approximations to a model without regard to the underlying approximation method. Thus we can utilise existing approximation techniques to produce selectively refined meshes in n-dimensions. This means that the capabilities and characteristics of standard approximation methods can be retained in our selectively refined models.

We also show that a selectively refined approximation produced in this manner can be smoothly geometrically morphed into another selective refinement in order to satisfy modified refinement criteria. This geometric morphing is necessary to ensure that detail can be added and removed from models which are selectively refined with respect to their impact on the current view frustum. For example, if a model is selectively refined in this manner and the viewer approaches the model then more detail may have to be introduced to the displayed mesh in order to ensure that it satisfies the new refinement criteria. By geometrically morphing this introduction of detail we can ensure that the viewer is not distracted by “popping” artifacts.

We have developed a novel framework within which these proposals have been verified. This framework consists of a generalised resolution-based model representation, a means of specifying refinement criteria and algorithms which can perform the selective refinement and geometric morphing tasks. The framework has allowed us to demonstrate that these twin tasks can be performed both on the output of existing approximation techniques and with respect to a variety of refinement criteria.

A HTML version of this thesis is at

Full text

Only available on paper (could be scanned on request).

BibTeX record

  author =	 {Brown, Peter John Cameron},
  title = 	 {{Selective mesh refinement for rendering}},
  year = 	 2000,
  month = 	 apr,
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  address =	 {15 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0FD, United Kingdom,
          	  phone +44 1223 763500},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-490}