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JohnK's Raytraces

I went through a raytracing phase when I had access to an Alpha with 256 Meg of RAM, via a porting job that was really mostly running brain-damaged regression tests. The machine screamed. I was doing full quality 1024x768's of complex scenes in a half hour. If software companies could only last as long as the machines they own, alas. But, hey, I couldn't lose -- I'm out of the boring job now.

If you're new to amateur raytracing, let me tell you, it's a specialized field -- no one you know will be interested. (When most people want to see 3D photorealistic images, they drive around in their car.) You'll spend a couple weekends hugging a pad of graph paper, then render at low-res for hours fixing bugs, arranging lighting and camera positions. High-res renders will reveal more complex problems, which are often confounding. I guess it's having control over everything that keeps me interested.

I've kind of retired. Recent games (Nova 9, Xwing, Doom, Magic Carpet 1/2, Descent 1/2, Mechwarrior 2) sated my desire for 3D worlds. However, I recently acquired some LCD shutter glasses, and am thinking of continuing my attempts at 3D animation with the fishtank. (Earlier attempts were me crossing my eyes, looking at cheesy spinning checkerboards.)

Here are some links that will get you to some quality raytraces: The Ray Tracing Home Page, Santa Fe Web Walk, Raytrace Competition.
Then make your own! (If you're not out starting the car at this point.) Get POV, a freeware raytracer with lots of powerful features, at Source is optional (unless of course you're on a generic Unix). If so, you will need the scenes as well, as they include the header files.

PC Mac Linux Unix
DOS PwrPC binary binary
Windows 68K binary
Windows source no-FPU binary See Unix scenes
DOS source source source source
Word97 docs html docs pdf docs

Load Me

U.F.O. over water

After I got POV, I traced Drew Wells' Tomb scene (comes with it) from every possible angle. I made stereo pairs. I figured out why they looked wrong (don't look_at the same point -- keep eye views parallel).

An Atari ST friend had been trying to get POV to show anything but a black screen, without success. I made the simplest scene I could, with spheres.

POV source

Hear me

St. Paul's

My second trace. The building is not mine; it's an old unidentified dataset STPAULS.ZOO I got off of China Lake (was a big raytracing archive). I put a lot of time into the evening sky, getting the sun to reflect in the windows. I thoroghly commented the file while I was chasing a bug that was covering up a couple windows with wall.

I was quite proud of the stars, which I'd come up with myself (starting from marble). Then I found out this is something users reinvent all the time.

POV source (zipped)

It's... full of cheese!


An interesting accident that occurred while I had replaced the cathedral with a plane of glass, so I could line up the sun. I was fooling with the star density too, and it looks really wild.

No source available.

See Me

Germany / Moon Window

The idea was to cause the viewer to do a double-take. The slightly-opened window would look normal, then one would realize the glass really just had a picture glued to it, because the open part had a different scene. I seem to see a lot of paintings of the moon framed by a window, so I used the lunar surface as a take-off. Thanks to David James for giving me the optical illusion idea.

In practice, the effect was lame, but I got to do more with subtractive CSG (to make the room), texture maps (walls), and using the wood texture (window frame). (Yes, I know, the grain is wrong on half of the pieces.)

The picture of Germany is a GIF off of Walnut Creek's GIFs Galore. The lunar surface was from some other CD. (Both public domain, I assume.)

POV source & GIFs (zip)

Feel Me

Coins in a Fishtank

I'm never going to finish this. Mostly, I did this to fool with Bezier patches (the sand). Then I wanted to play with blobs (bubbles). Then some unknowing relative complemented me on the sand, which got me wanting to make it look better. Thus a weekend on the treasure chest, and another on the ceramic castle (never entered).

"Where's the fish?" Well, no fish were harmed during the creation... The answer is -- I'm not that good!

POV source, texture map, & QuickBasic random data generators (zip)



Before there could be coins in the fishtank, I had to make a coin. I knew those little ridges were out of the question, so I used Windows Paint to make a texture map. I stubbornly hold on to the dog-slow toroids on the edge. At one point, I put in pieces of spheres to speed it up, but it's just not the same.

POV source & texture map (zip)

Oooh Baby!

How much water does it take to fill a fishtank?

Enough to fill the fishtank, and an infinitely thin layer to hold the ripple texture map. If you forget the layer, you get the texture wrapping around. I was also playing with making the water seem more cloudy here, by reducing the transparency of the glass.

No source available.

I've fallen


They say prisms don't work, right there in the Young/Wells Ray Tracing Creations book. Well, why not? Traces of glass spheres are refracting either on the way in or out -- would it be so much harder to do both?

Actually, this trace doesn't show the light refracting on either side. I think this might be related to the light hitting a rough surface, which can't be traced back from the camera.

I discovered the way to brighten up dark scenes while working on this one. Who says a light source has to stop at rgb<1 1 1>? Pump it up to 8 8 8, or even more. Even Young & Wells don't mention this trick. And it's a shame; I see many traces out there that are so dark I can't make out the details.

POV source

in love


I'm always a step behind everyone else. In college, I took an extra year and a half to graduate. My friends disappeared for other jobs, leaving me coding by myself. During my 30's, the same sort of thing has been happening, as friends get married, and I don't see them as much.

Well, it finally happened to me. John is in love. I define 'in love' as someone else's welfare and interests being as important as my own. Add energy in the form of communication (often dissention) and lust, mix with hanging out together, and wait for a year or two.

This is my first trace with Ray Dream Designer. Ray Dream doesn't come with a glass shader (texture), so I made one up for this scene, but it looked awful. What good is a raytracer that can't do glass?

Ray Dream 4 source (zip)

and infatuation

Kathleen Tile

After my bad experience with Ray Dream Designer, I went back to POV. I concentrated on things I hadn't done much of before, like the detailed image and bump maps. The only "fake" part of the image is the pool-bottom filter, which is from a CD of backgrounds.

It's pretty close to what I wanted. I wanted the sun glints to be scattered around more; adding turbulence got glints, but messed up the smoothness of the refraction. There needs to be more environment to show the surface of the water more -- maybe the edge of the pool.

I wrote the cursive large onto a sheet of paper (difficult, for me), put graph paper on top, and filled in squares. This eventually went into the structure array strings in the C program, after I despaired of my Photoshop clone ever being easy to use, and of drawing it right the first time.

I did most of the work when I was feeling rejected and depressed. I don't like to admit it, but I seem to be more productive when I'm trying to keep my mind off of something worse.

POV 3 source, C programs, image & bump maps (zip)

A Java applet tried to be here.

Gratuitous Spinning Corporate Logo

I got dumped. After considering jumping off a few bridges, I took a Java class instead. I didn't have any expectations going in -- it's a toy language, after all -- so it worked out a lot better than the girlfriend. (If you are either a Java proponent or Kathleen, click on the email address at the bottom of the page to send me hate mail.)

Left mouse button sets location. Right button changes rotation direction and speed. So if you click the right button real fast, it'll waffle back and forth. Don't have too much fun.

Java source
POV & Java source, tga file (zip)

To find out why this page is dark metallic flake plum, you should take a look at my bicycle.
This ends JohnK's little HTML-learning experience.

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