Today I showed my undergraduate computer graphics class how to do bump mapping. That’s when you use an image to create a texture the gives the illusion that a surface is bumpy.
It’s a technique originally developed by Jim Blinn in 1977. Instead of putting actual bumps on the surface (which is computationally expensive), you just play around with how the surface reacts to light (which is computationally cheap). The result is the illusion of a bumpy surface.
It only took a single lecture to show them how to write all the code for both parts of the process: (1) displaying a bump mapped shape, and (2) creating the behind-the-scenes bump map texture image that makes the magic happen.
The bump map image we ended up using was the text message “We love computer graphics!” Fittingly we superimposed this on a model of the Earth. The message was clear: All around the world, people love computer graphics.
What a nice thought. 🙂