VTK adds a rendering abstraction layer over the system’s graphics library (OpenGL for the most part). VTK’s graphics system primarily exists to create surface and volume renderings of scientific datasets. But, in VTK, there are a great number of support classes provided that help you create compelling visualizations.

Technical Overview: 3D Graphics

  • Volume Rendering
    • software ray casting implementations
    • texture-based hardware implementations
    • Surface geometry can be intermixed with volume rendering
  • Graphics Model
    • lights illuminate the scene
    • cameras define viewpoint
    • actors and mappers that connect surface and volume renderings of data into the scene
    • manual and automatic generation of level-of-detail in LOD Actors for interactive views of large models
    • assemblies group actors into arbitrary hierarchies
    • mappers define geometry/link into visualization pipeline
    • renderers encapsulate the above into layers and areas within windows
  • Annotation
    • 2D and 3D text with loadable fonts and latex math text markup
    • configurable scalar bars
    • x-y plots
    • flying axes
    • overlay planes
    • 3D Widgets with extendable view/render architectur
  • Special Features
    • multiple windows/viewports
    • A variety of stereo output drivers
    • motion and focal blur
  • Output to raster (png, jpeg, tiff, bmp, and ppm) and vector (ps, pdf) formats