Saturday, September 10, 2005

Graphics Programming with OpenGL

Well, I've been spending the last few days really seriously learning the OpenGL API and learning some graphics theory, and I must say that this is truly the most interesting and enjoyable thing to do on the planet. I can't possibly imagine myself now doing anything other than programming, it's great!

So, I learned about setting up a Win32 window that can be used by OpenGL to display the output, and despite the relative tedious nature of this sort of work, I still found it quite interesting to learn how it works, and how to set it up with GL and how to make it modular.

After a while doing and learning that, I learned about the OpenGL primitive types and how to use them within an OpenGL program (I admit, from tinkering I'd already had a good idea of how they worked, but I still learned quite a bit). At this point I'd been easily able render triangles, lines, points(pixel), and polygons with an arbitrary number of verticies. I also learned how to assign colors to the polygons on a per-vertex level. With my knowledge of basic GL primitives, I also learned about how OpenGL handles culling, basically, even though polygons are infinitely thin, both sides are treated seperately in the case of culling, so, I can see how this could be used to selectively set attributes to either face of a polygon or act as a performance optimization by doing culling dynamically with geometry of higher complexity.

I'm extremely tired right now, so I'll halt my OpenGL learning (and my current research engine, where I am implementing what I learn, called the Vortex Engine) for today, but I can't wait to start learning about transformations, GL matricies, fog, lighting and texture mapping. I hope by the end of this month, I will be learning the OpenGL shading language, in order to do truly sophisticated rendering on a per-pixel level, through arbitrary surface programs. I'm excited at the possibility of implementing per-material, per-pixel specular and normal mapped lighting, all being performed completely by the GPU.

That's all for now, I definitely need some sleep...

Ashraf Eassa


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