Diffraction Shaders

Jos Stam

SIGGRAPH Annual Conference Series


The reflection of light from surfaces is a fundamental problem in computer graphics. Although many reflection models have been proposed, few take into account the wave nature of light. In this paper, we derive a new class of reflection models for metallic surfaces that handle the effects of diffraction. Diffraction is a purely wave-like phenomenon and cannot be properly modeled using the ray theory of light alone. A common example of a surface which exhibits diffraction is the compact disk. A characteristic of such surfaces is that they reflect light in a very colorful manner. Our model is also a generalization of most reflection models encountered in computer graphics. In particular, we extend the He-Torrance model to handle anisotropic reflections. This is achieved by rederiving, in a more general setting, results from surface wave physics which were taken for granted by other researchers. Specifically, our use of Fourier analysis has enabled us to tackle the difficult task of analytically computing the Kirchhoff integral of surface scattering.

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