Improving Usability in Procedural Modeling

Björn Ganster



This work presents new approaches and algorithms for procedural modeling geared towards user convenience and improving usability, in order to increase artists’ productivity. Procedural models create geometry for 3D models from sets of rules. Existing approaches that allow to model trees, buildings, and terrain are reviewed and possible improvements are discussed. A new visual programming language for procedural modeling is discussed, where the user connects operators to visual programs called model graphs. These operators create geometry with textures, assign or evaluate variables or control the sequence of operations. When the user moves control points using the mouse in 3D space, the model graph is executed to change the geometry interactively. Thus, model graphs combine the creativity of freehand modeling with the power of programmed modeling while displaying the program structure more clearly than textbased approaches. Usability is increased as a result of these advantages.

Also, an interactive editor for botanical trees is demonstrated. In contrast to previous tree modeling systems, we propose linking rules, parameters and geometry to semantic entities. This has the advantage that problems of associating parameters and instances are completely avoided. When an entity is clicked in the viewport, its parameters are displayed immediately, changes are applied to selected entities, and viewport editing operations are reflected in the parameter set. Furthermore, we store the entities in a hierarchical data structure and allow the user to activate recursive traversal via selection options for all editing operations. The user may choose to apply viewport or parameter changes to a single entity or many entities at once, and only the geometry for the affected entities needs to be updated. The proposed user interface simplifies the modeling process and increases productivity.

Interactive editing approaches for 3D models often allow more precise control over a model than a global set of parameters that is used to generate a shape. However, usually scripted procedural modeling generates shapes directly from a fixed set of parameters, and interactive editing mostly uses a fixed set of tools. We propose to use scripts not only to generate models, but also for manipulating the models. A base script would set up the state of an object, and tool scripts would modify that state. The base script and the tool scripts generate geometry when necessary. Together, such a collection of scripts forms a template, and templates can be created for various types of objects. We examine how templates simplify the procedural modeling workflow by allowing for editing operations that are context-sensitive, flexible and powerful at the same time.

Many algorithms have been published that produce geometry for fictional landscapes. There are algorithms which produce terrain with minimal setup time, allowing to adapt the level of detail as the user zooms into the landscape. However, these approaches lack plausible river networks, and algorithms that create eroded terrain with river networks require a user to supervise creation and minutes or hours of computation. In contrast to that, this work demonstrates an algorithm that creates terrain with plausible river networks and adaptive level of detail with no more than a few seconds of preprocessing. While the system can be configured using parameters, this text focuses on the algorithm that produces the rivers. However, integrating more tools for user-controlled editing of terrain would be possible.

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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Published: 22.02.2013