Interactive volume rendering of thin thread structures within multivalued scientific data sets

Andreas Wenger, Daniel F. Keefe, Song Zhang, David H. Laidlaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We present a threads and halos representation for interactive volume rendering of vector-field structure and describe a number of additional components that combine to create effective visualizations of multivalued 3D scientific data. After filtering linear structures, such as flow lines, into a volume representation, we use a multilayer volume rendering approach to simultaneously display this derived volume along with other data values. We demonstrate the utility of threads and halos in clarifying depth relationships within dense renderings and we present results from two scientific applications: visualization of second-order tensor valued magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data and simulated 3D fluid flow data. In both application areas, the interactivity of the visualizations proved to be important to the domain scientists. Finally, we describe a PC-based implementation of our framework along with domain specific transfer functions, including an exploratory data culling tool, that enable fast data exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-671
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Brown Scientific Visualization Group, Graphics Group, and Technology Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Visualization. Special thanks go to George Karniadakis and his group at Brown, Peter Richardson at Brown, Susumu Mori at Johns Hopkins, Mark Bastin at the University of Edinburgh, and Thomas Deisboeck at MGH for their data and feedback. Thanks also to Katrina Avery and Morriah Horani for superb editorial input. This work was partially supported by the US National Science Foundation (CCR-0093238) and the Human Brain Project (EB00232: NIBIB and NIMH).


  • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
  • Direct volume rendering
  • Fluid flow visualization
  • Medical imaging
  • Multitextures
  • PC graphics hardware
  • Scientific visualization
  • Volume graphics
  • Volume shading


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