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Direct Volume Rendering: A 3D Plotting Technique for Scientific Data


Direct volume rendering is an effective method for plotting 3D scientific data, but it's not as frequently used as it could be. Here, the authors summarize direct volume rendering and discuss barriers to taking advantage of this powerful technique.


The article describes the basics of volume rendering by contrasting it with other techniques using a dataset created using an implicit function. A sidebar also shows a case study using a volume that was aquired with a CT scanner of a torso. Both of these sets of images are fully reproducible.

Supporting Material

The exploration process that lead to the visualizations in the text were captured in a vistrail that can be loaded and executed with the VisTrails system. The vistrails can be obtained here:

Sep07 implicit function vistrail

Sep07 case study vistrail

and the datasets can be found here:



For Windows/Linux platforms, if the datasets are placed in the VisTrails example/data directory the pipelines will work as is. For Mac, the SetFileName function of the readers will need to be modified to reflect the location of the file.

Discussion and Feedback

A blog has been created for CiSE readers to provide discussion and feedback of the system and the article. Let us know what you think!

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