Bovines in the Information SuperPasture

bovine (BOH'vighn', -veen')
1. Of, pertaining to, or resembling an ox, cow, or other animal of the genus Bos.
2. Sluggish; dull; stolid.
3. (Specifically cow) The canonical model of choice amongst discriminating practitioners of the art of computer graphics.

Cows in Computer Graphics

Traditional Teapot: This is the model that has absorbed so much attention.

For a long time now, the teapot has been a canonical model and symbol of computer graphics. As you can see, the teapot is rather uninteresting. In fact, you might even go so far as to say that it is rather sterile. The cow, on the other hand, is fully organic. The bovine form offers both greater appeal and greater complexity. I firmly believe that if I were to spend hours working on and testing my software using a teapot, I would be bored. A teapot tumbling through space is a common occurence. You can reproduce this effect in your very own kitchen. However, a cow tumbling through space is something that you definitely do not see every day. This can increase the entertainment value of otherwise dull software by that critical amount necessary to maintain interest at levels sufficient for productive work.

Gallery of Cows

This image is courtesy of Francois Sillion. You can see some cows inhabiting a simple world with some walls and some plant life. He assures me that this radiosity solution does not involve the cow form factor discussed below.
My own research is on multiresolution modeling. This cow collage represents 3 levels of detail produced by a surface simplification algorithm I've implemented. The cow proceeds from the original 5804 triangles to 800 triangles and then only 300 triangles.
This is a much more recent example of my surface simplification work on cows. This is not a Chia Cow. Those green ellipsoids are isosurfaces of the quadric error metric.

This 3D model of a cow, in Wavefront OBJ format, should provide you with the raw data necessary to start using cows in your own graphics projects.

Want to use a cow in a radiosity environment? Tired of calculating form factors for every single miniscule little polygon on the surface of the cow? Your difficulties are at an end. Some intrepid researchers have computed the form factor of a cow. Check out the paper:

Perry, R.L., and Speck, E.P. "Geometric Factors for Thermal Radiation Exchange Between Cows and Their Surroundings", American Society of Agricultural Engineers Paper #59-323.

I've taken the liberty of entering the summary for this paper. It should give you a feel for what the paper's about.

Michael Garland

Last modified: Mon Nov 16 21:49:14 EST 1998