CPSC 3710 Computer Graphics
Ray Tracing Project
Jacob Pledger


I quickly settled on the idea to University of Lethbridge's water building because it seemed decently complex and easily identifiable. I decided to use Google Sketchup, since it looked simple and I wanted to try out one of the newer tools. I played around in the program briefly before deciding to use it, and then quickly got started.

My favourite feature is the ability to sculpt an object by drawing a 2D shape on a face and "pushing" it in. The building itself started as one large rectangle with dimensions that approximated the square footage of the building. From that, I chiseled out the building's unique shape.

I spent about 30 hours building this, and a good portion of that was touchup work. The basic shape of the building and the size and placement of the windows came together fairly quickly, and the rest of the time was spent agonizing over details. Although it does not look too complicated, I started encountering problems at this stage. I also probably spent more time than I should have on the interior. Although there is nothing inside except a second floor, I was trying to get rid of a lot of the seams that did not need to be there. The texturing isn't quite to my satisfaction, but although Sketchup allows you to import textures from image files, I couldn't quite get a good enough image to use for the building textures, so I decided to leave it plain. The textures I did add were all done by hand in the program.

Towards the end I had a LOT of problems where a line would be off by half a pixel somehow and that would cause problems when trying to add texture to the building. I cannot think of how any of these problems happened since Sketchup "snaps" lines and corners together when you draw them, and I tried to keep the measurements as exact as possible. This caused me a lot of grief as I was trying to add more details, since every time I drew a small rectangle on the back "nose" of the building it would fill in a whole section right behind the windows and make them opaque. This took me almost a whole day to diagnose and fix. Even after I fixed it, one of the sides of that same "nose" insists on being composed of triangles, no matter how many times I delete them and draw a rectangle over the gap. I feel like something got shifted by accident, or the "snapping" feature when drawing shapes is flawed. Since they were such small variances, the were a huge pain to find and fix. The "respawning wall" thing happened to me throughout the whole project actually. Just about any window or window detail I added caused the sides of the middle section to reappear inside the building, making me have to go in and delete them repeatedly.

The experience was fun at the beginning, but the problems I was having at the end sort of ruined it. I think I might have preferred to use POVRay or Blender, just because it seems like you can specify dimensions and placements a little more accurately in them. Or, I probably should have been making backup copies. Lesson learned.

Photo Credits
I got a couple of the pictures from this site. Credit goes to Rob Laird.