Simulating the structure and texture of solid wood

Albert Julius Liu, Zhao Dong, Miloš Hašan, Steve Marschner


Wood is an important decorative material prized for its unique appearance. It is commonly rendered using artistically authored 2D color and bump textures, which reproduces color patterns on flat surfaces well. But the dramatic anisotropic specular figure caused by wood fibers, common in curly maple and other species, is harder to achieve. While suitable BRDF models exist, the texture parameter maps for these wood BRDFs are difficult to author---good results have been shown with elaborate measurements for small flat samples, but these models are not much used in practice. Furthermore, mapping 2D image textures onto 3D objects leads to distortion and inconsistencies. Procedural volumetric textures solve these geometric problems, but existing methods produce much lower quality than image textures. This paper aims to bring the best of all these techniques together: we present a comprehensive volumetric simulation of wood appearance, including growth rings, color variation, pores, rays, and growth distortions. The fiber directions required for anisotropic specular figure follow naturally from the distortions. Our results rival the quality of textures based on photographs, but with the consistency and convenience of a volumetric model. Our model is modular, with components that are intuitive to control, fast to compute, and require minimal storage.


ACM Digital Library.

Direct link to PDF (48 MB).

Supplemental material


Includes several more videos.


 author = {Liu, Albert Julius and Dong, Zhao and Ha\v{s}an, Milo\v{s} and Marschner, Steve},
 title = {Simulating the Structure and Texture of Solid Wood},
 journal = {ACM Trans. Graph.},
 issue_date = {November 2016},
 volume = {35},
 number = {6},
 month = nov,
 year = {2016},
 issn = {0730-0301},
 pages = {170:1--170:11},
 articleno = {170},
 numpages = {11},
 url = {},
 doi = {10.1145/2980179.2980255},
 acmid = {2980255},
 publisher = {ACM},
 address = {New York, NY, USA},
 keywords = {BRDF, solid texture, texture synthesis, wood},


Funding for this work was provided by National Science Foundation grant IIS-1011919 and by a gift from Autodesk. We would also like to thank Roberto Ziche for suggesting wood model features and creating parameter presets, John Hutchinson for support and suggestions, Kate Salesin and Lydia Wang for their help in preparing and photographing the wood samples, and François Guimbretière for providing lab space for preparing the wood samples.