It has been over 40 years since Stanislaw Ulam published his pioneering work on computer models of branching structures. In the period that followed, plant modeling has become an area of active interdisciplinary research. On one hand, biologists are interested in plant models as a means for better understanding the fundamental mechanisms that govern plant development and structure. Plant scientists are also investigating the use of models for computer-assisted decision-making in horticulture, agriculture, and forestry. On the other hand, the computer graphics community is interested in plants as elements of scenery for computer animations and games. State-of-the-art plant models, combined with advanced rendering methods, are now producing astounding results. Synthetic images of individual plants and landscapes are increasingly difficult to distinguish from photographs, and art-inspired non-photorealistic techniques successfully mimic drawings and paintings of plants. Complicated scenes with plants for computer games are generated in a fraction of a second.
Many of the underlying methods have been obtained by the authors of this book, Oliver Deussen and Bernd Lintermann. Their popular plant-modeling system xfrog introduced an innovative graphical user interface that empowered computer scientists and artists alike to create tree models with unprecedented realism. These models have been incorporated in some of the most captivating scenes with plants, created to date. Xfrog, however, is but a stepping stone to the broad discussion of plant-modeling issues presented in this book. Other topics include the synthesis of large scenes with plants, generation of plants at interactive rates as needed for computer games, non-photorealistic rendering of plants, and the use of plant-inspired techniques in art installations. The broad coverage of plant modeling in computer graphics, and the inclusion of many original results, so far available only in specialist papers, make this book a valuable contribution to the practice of visual plant modeling.
Calgary, Canada, November 2004