Archive for July, 2017

Paper-worthy rendering in MATLAB

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

MATLAB is not a great tool for creating 3D renderings. However, the learning curves for most commercial rendering tools are quite steep. Other tools like Mitsuba can create beautiful pictures, but can feel quite cumbersome for rendering pure geometry rather than the physical scenes their designed for.

Over the years, I’ve developed a way of creating plots of 3D shapes in MATLAB using a few extra functions in gptoolbox. This started as a way to just make images from research prototypes more palatable, but eventually became the usual way that I render images for papers. If the code for my research is already written in MATLAB then one huge advantage is that every image in my paper can have a *.m script that deterministically generates the result and the corresponding image with user intervention. This helps with reproducibility, editing and sharing between collaborators.

Here’s a “VFX Breakdown” of rendering a 3D shape in MATLAB.

t = tsurf(F,V);
set(gcf,'COlor',0.94*[1 1 1]);
teal = [144 216 196]/255;
pink = [254 194 194]/255;
bg_color = pink;
fg_color = teal;
for pass = 1:10
  switch pass
  case 1
    % blank run
    axis([-209.4       119.38      -181.24       262.67      -247.28 247.38]);
  case 2
    axis equal;
    axis([-209.4       119.38      -181.24       262.67      -247.28 247.38]);
    axis vis3d;
  case 3
    t.EdgeColor = 'none';
  case 4
  case 5
  case 6
    l = light('Position',[0.2 -0.2 1]);
  case 7
  case 8
  case 9
    s = add_shadow(t,l,'Color',bg_color*0.8,'BackgroundColor',bg_color,'Fade','infinite');
  case 10

  vidObj = VideoWriter(sprintf('nefertiti-%02d.mp4',pass),'MPEG-4');
  vidObj.Quality = 100;;
  thetas = linspace(30,-30,450);
  for theta = thetas(1:end-1)


Inflate Wire Mesh in libigl C++ or gptoolbox MATLAB

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

For a visualization and 3D printing, it’s often useful to “inflate” a edge-network into a thickened surface mesh. One method to do this is described “Sculptural Forms from Hyperbolic Tessellations” by George C Hart. This method works by adding rotated polygons at the ends of each edge offset a bit from the vertices. Then for each vertex the convex hull of incident edges’ polygons is computed and unioned with the convex hull of the polygons at either end of each edge. Hart writes that polygons shared by “edge hulls” and “vertex hulls” can simply be discarded. This is unfortunately not true, in general. It’s not super easier to categorize which faces can be discarded (even in general position) since the answer depends on the thickness, the number of sides of the polygons, their rotations, their offsets, and the angle between neighbouring edges. Fortunately, libigl is very good at conducting unions. We can just conduct the union explicitly and exactly using libigl.

I’ve written a new function for libigl igl::wire_mesh that takes in a wire network and spits out a solid (i.e., closed, watertight, manifold) mesh of a the inflated surface.

I’ve also wrapped this up in a Matlab Mex function in gptooolbox wire_mesh.