What Is Surface Rendering?

By Mark Orwell

Surface rendering involves the careful collection of data on a given object in order to create a three-dimensional image of that object on a computer. It is an important technique used in a variety of industries.


One of the techniques to construct an image using surface rendering is with illumination. An illumination model shines a light on a surface and makes calculations based on the intensity of the light reflected back. This collects enough specific data to create a 3D image later. On the computer, a cutting plane is used to give renderers a geometric space with all the data collected represented by a color map. This data is then used to recreate an image of the rendered surface.


A renderer must take into account aspects of the surface being rendered, like translucency, surface texture and reflections. Some objects may not be suited for this type of rendering. Lasers can provide more precise measurements and bypass some problems because of their focused nature.


Surface rendering is used in a number of industries, such as in health care. There, parts of the body are rendered so doctors can closely examine specific areas of a patient or wounds they may have incurred. Archaeologists also use rendering to make an image of very fragile objects in order to examine them without harming them.