3D Graphics 102
(Texture and Lighting)

Educator Resources


3D Graphics 102 (Texture and Lighting)




3D Graphics 101 (recommended)


Advanced concepts in 3D Graphics


Advanced 3D Modelling


3D Modelling using Advanced techniques


3D Model Builder (Windows platform only)

Available for:

Windows PC, "netbook" or tablet


On-line or off-line (contact us)

Learning Outcomes

  • A triangle can have up to 3 color values
  • 24 bit color is RGB and 32 bit color is RGBA format
  • RGBA stands for "red, green, blue, alpha"
  • 24 and 32 bit color can display 16.7 million possible colors
  • Painting a triangle requires "texture mapping" and UV's
  • 3D triangles have a "front face" and a "back face"
  • 3D systems often cull "back facing" triangles
  • "Normals" are an invisible yet important part of a 3D model
  • A lighting/shading calculation is performed using "normals"
  • Smooth shading requires 3 normals per triangle
  • A triangle can have "alpha" values in the color to define transparency
  • A triangle can have up to 3 "alpha" transparency values, one per point
  • Transparency can also be defined within a "texture map" image
  • Multiple "texture map" images can be applied to a set of triangles
  • Reflection calculation is also performed using "normals"
  • Skill Outcomes

  • Ability to define a base color for triangles
  • Ability to define a color for each point on a triangle
  • Ability to define independent colors on the same point
  • Ability to apply "texture map" images to a 3D model
  • Ability to use textures as a template for drawing
  • Ability to draw "front facing" triangles
  • Ability to draw "normals" for lighting
  • Ability to define independent "normals" on the same point
  • Ability to apply transparency to 3D models
  • Ability to create 3D models with correct transparency drawing order
  • Ability to define an invisible color within a "texture map"
  • Ability to add an "alpha" channel to a "texture map"
  • Ability to "multi-texture" a set of triangles
  • Ability to use a "texture map" as a reflection image
  • Introduction

    3D Anatomy 101 introduces the components and theory of 3D graphics. 3D Graphics 101 puts students to work building shapes and objects with a solid set of practical tasks. 3D Graphics 102 builds on this confidence, introducing advanced topics in 3D graphics.

    3D Graphics 102 introduces advanced concepts in 3D graphics by delivering a Video Tutorial for each topic along with a practical example which may be demonstrated by the student.

    For theory content that is demonstrated in this 3D Graphics 102 course please refer back to 3D Anatomy 101.

    Modern software tools do not allow students to build 3D objects from core components. That is, there is a layer of object intelligence that protects the user from the core building blocks that are required to draw 3D geometry on a modern 3D graphics system.

    A simple example is a Cube object. Software tools show you a Cube but in its simplest form a Cube is made from 8 points in 3D space and 12 triangles. There is no such thing as a square or 4 point surface in 3D graphics. This is because ALL 3D graphics is made using triangles as the core element. This is the first learning outcome and probably the single most important knowledge you can teach.

    3D Graphics 102 introduces other elements that we may use to draw a Cube. For example, we may apply paint onto triangles using "Texture" images or specify the lighting on a per triangle basis. Transparency may be applied on a point or vertex, on a triangle vertex, or we could use a Texture image to apply an invisible color or transparency map.

    Students that learn these fundamentals gain a clear and simple understanding of what drives their graphics, delivering a solid footing for careers in 3D, multimedia, animation and software development.


  • Learning and outcomes are activity based using our 3D Model Builder software

  • Download 3D Model Builder (Texture and Lighting) from our web site:

  • 3D Model Builder
    (Texture and Lighting)
  • 3D Model Builder software is free to use but SAVE and UNDO are disabled

  • Software licensing enables the SAVE and UNDO features

  • Many tasks may be completed without the need to SAVE

  • Some tasks require SAVE to be completed successfully

  • The download is a Windows EXE ready to install on classroom PCs

  • A single network installation on a server system is possible

  • A license server feature is available upon request

  • Proposed Lesson Plan

    Session 1 - Color

    This session introduces color and how triangles are collected into groups that share similar attributes such as color and texture.

    In 3D Model Builder we can group triangles and/or lines into "Layers". For example, if we wish to create a cube with a different color on each of the six sides, we would group each side into its own Layer.

    When we select a Layer we can then assign a default color for the contents in that Layer. We perform this task in the first task below, assigning a color to each side of the Cube.

    We also have the option to assign color values to a vertex which is shared globally... that is, any triangle that touches that point or vertex will be drawn with those color attributes applied to that corner of the triangle. We can also assign colors to a vertex at the Layer level... that is, only triangles in that Layer will have the color attributes applied. This is useful for sharp color changes where we want different colors for each triangle corner that meets that point or vertex.

    Vertex colors can also be pre-generated or "baked" to simulate static lighting effects.

    Layer Colors

    Vertex Colors (global)

    Vertex Colors (per layer)

    Vertex Baking

    Session 2 - Texture

    Texture images allow us to paint the surfaces of triangles... but we still have to define how we are to map the 2D image onto our 3D surface.

    Texture images are also useful for mapping elevation pictures in our 3D world as a template for drawing.

    Texture Basics

    Color by Texture

    Textures as Templates

    Mirror Imaging

    Texture a Dice

    Texture a Mech

    Session 3 - Front Facing Triangles

    Front facing triangles are one of those hidden features of 3D graphics systems that no one tells you about... but they are important because, in 3D graphics, you can have single sided triangles.

    The following tasks illustrate why "front facing" or "single sided" triangles are useful in 3D modelling.



    Dorsal Fin


    Session 4 - Lighting and Normals

    Lighting gives our 3D models depth by performing a "shading calculation" with a light source in our 3D world.

    Normals indicate a direction that is perpendicular to the surface at a point on a triangle. Given any triangle as 3 points we could calculate the perpendicular "normal" vector but this uncommon... today 3D models and graphics systems calculate 3 normals per triangle, one per point or corner of the triangle.

    For more information on the theory and shading methods please refer back to 3D Anatomy 101.

    The following tasks allow us to visualise what "normals" are and what they can do for us.

    Normals (global)

    Normals (per layer)

    Editing Normals

    Normals and Mirroring

    Draw Normals on Shapes

    Draw Normals on F1 Car

    Session 5 - Transparency

    Transparency allows us to see through objects but we need to consider drawing order. For example, if the sides of a cube are always drawn in a static order and we rotate the cube we will observe some surfaces behind disappear and reappear.

    Because transparency is simulated using a blending technique it is necessary to draw the farthest surfaces first and drawing the closest surfaces last.

    For more information on the theory please refer back to 3D Anatomy 101.

    The following tasks allow us to visualise transparency and how we can apply it in the same way as we apply color values.

    Cube with 1 Layer

    Cube with 6 Layers

    Vertex Transparency

    Vertex Transparency
    (per layer)

    Texture Invisible

    Texture Alpha

    Cockpit Screen

    Palm Trees


    Here are a few tasks which could form the basis for an advanced modelling project. This could potentially be a homework or assessment item.

    The recommendation is to pick one of these objects and try to create it and, if possible, personalise it in your own way.

    F1 Racecar

    F22 Raptor

    Monster Truck


    Police Helicopter

    P51 Mustang

    Concept Car

    Chopper Bike

    Light Plane


    Session 6 - Advanced Topics

    If time permits and students are at a high level of competence we offer a few advanced topics and challenges...

    Custom Mapping

    Multi Texture


    Texture an F1 Car

    Support and Resources

    Contact us for personal support and assistance. We can help you install and establish our content "off-line" if necessary and have other learning tools and downloads which will help you deliver clean and efficient learning experiences.

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