Computer Graphics

"Let's make some pretty pictures--from the ground up" -- Your Instructor

Course Information

  • Course Number: CS 5310
  • Semester: Summer 2019
  • Hours: Taught Online
  • Location: Cyberspace! (i.e. online)
    • Ryder Hall 161 is held for us from 2:50pm-6:05pm on Thursdays for which you can use as a space to meet with your classmates. I highly recommend this!
  • Piazza: Forum Board (Office Hour and locations are listed in forum)


  • Instructor: Mike Shah
  • E-mail: mikeshah( a t )Northeastern
  • Office: Nightingale 132A
  • Office Hours: Tuesdays from noon-2pm--Google Hangout by appointment.
  • Special Note:This summer I will be in San Francisco helping our other campus every week for part of the week.

Schedule/Road Map

The following is our tentative syllabus for the course, some changes should be expected throughout the semester. I will announce in class or through e-mail any major changes.

Acquire the Course Monorepo by clicking here Do not do a 'git pull' until class starts (Occasionally I make changes/spelling corrections)

Module Theme Date Topic Assignments Note(s)
1 Introduction Thursday, May 9, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Course Structure
    • Introduction to Computer Graphics
    • Introduction to Graphics APIs and some History
    • Getting Started with the Simple Directmedia Layer version 2 (SDL2)
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • SDL2
A1 released (Due May 17 anywhere on Earth)
-- --
2 Fundamentals of building a Software Rasterizer Thursday, May 16, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Drawing a Line
    • Drawing a Triangle
    • Filling in a Triangle
    • Outputting an Image as a PPM
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • Basic Software Rasterizer
-- --
-- --
3 Thursday, May 23, 2019
A2 released (Due June 7 anywhere on Earth)
-- --
4 Thursday, May 30, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Painters Algorithm vs Z-Buffer
    • View Frustrum
    • Backface Culling and Draw Order
    • Camera and Model Transform
    • Applied Matrices Examples
    • Object Space, World Space, Camera Space
    • Perspective and Orthographic
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • Rotating Triangle
-- --
-- --
5 Accelerating Graphics with the GPU Thursday, June 6, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Moving on from our Software Render
    • Some GPU History
    • Drawing our First Shape
    • Vertex Buffer in OpenGL
    • Vertex and Fragment Shaders
    • Index Buffers
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • First Shape and Index Buffer
A3 released (Due anywhere on Earth June 28)
-- --
6 Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • Lecture outline
  • Lab
    • Color and Perspective Camera
-- --
-- --
7 Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • C++ review of object lifetime and memory
    • Abstraction in C++ for our Framework
    • Texture Sampling
    • Mipmapping
    • Normal Mapping
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • Abstraction
A4 releaseed (Due anywhere on Earth July 14)
Mike out of country June 15-24 (Very limited internet during this time)
8 Thursday, June 27, 2019
  • Lecture outline
  • Lab
    • Camera and Illumination
  1. Final Project Ideas Slideshow
  2. Previous Year Projects
  3. Form Teams Spreadsheet
Final Project Repository Released (Click Here!)
-- Thursday, July 4, 2019
--University Holiday, no class--
A5 releaseed (Due anywhere on Earth July 26)
-- --
9 Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Lecture outline
  • Lab
    • Multiple Lights
-- --
-- --
10 Thursday, July 18, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Trees
    • Scene Graph data structure
    • Triangle Strips
    • Heightmaps
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • Terrain
-- --
-- --
11 Thursday, July 25, 2019
  • Lecture outline
    • Screen Buffers
    • Framebuffer objects
    • Kernels
    • Rendering engine study
    • Begin Module!
  • Lab
    • Framebuffer Post-Processing
A6 released (Due anywhere on Earth Aug. 2)
-- --
12 Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019
Graphics Study Guide
There is no exam in this course, but this study guide may be useful for summarizing some of the knowledge you should have obtained from the course.
13 Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019
  • Lecture outline
  • Lab
    • (Optional--for fun) Graphics APIs
-- --
-- --
14 Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019
  • Lecture outline
  • Lab
    • (Optional--for fun) See student projects
-- --
Final Project due August 17

Course Description

This course teachings the fundamentals of Computer Graphics. We will be using C++ and OpenGL to explore computer graphics programming. C++ may be new to many students and often poses to be one of the challenges to entering the field of computer graphics so there will be additional guidance on learning this language. This course also provides a refresher of linear algebra throughout the course.

Registrar Description: Charts a path through every major aspect of computer graphics with varying degrees of emphasis. Discusses hardware issues: size and speed; lines, polygons, and regions; modeling, or objects and their relations; viewing, or what can be seen (visibility and perspective); rendering, or how it looks (properties of surfaces, light, and color); transformations, or moving, placing, distorting, and animating and interaction, or drawing, selecting, and transforming.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be ready to:

  • Build graphics applications using OpenGL and C++.
  • Be able to take more advanced graphics courses (Advanced graphics, Computer Vision, GPGPU, etc).
  • Understand how to utilize the GPU for general purpose programming (e.g. OpenCL).
  • Position yourself for jobs in gaming, entertainment, or hardware involving graphics.


  • (Undergrad) Prereq. CS 3540 or permission of instructor
  • (Grad)Knowledge of computer graphics, differential calculus, operating systems concepts, and algorithms; restricted to students in the Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences.

Additional Course Prerequisites

  • This course will be taught using C++. It is possible you have not taken a specific course on C++ --that is okay.
    • This means, you will learn more in this class. That is a good thing.
    • This means, you will have to work hard. I will support you in learning some C++, and early lectures will be devoted to some C++.
    • I feel strongly about using C++, as the game and entertainment industry largely uses modern C++. The C dialect is additionally used for programming GPUs, so it can be easier think in one language.
  • You should have basic knowledge in github, using any text-based editor, and how to compile, run, and debug programs.


There will be no required textbook to purchase for this course. However, these resources have been vetted, and I recommend for mastery (while taking this course, and reviewing later on in your career).

Academic Integrity and Non-Discrimination

Students and instructors are to follow the Northeastern policies on these important issues.

  • Northeastern Non-Discrimination Policy - This classroom is a safe space for the instructor and students to talk about ideas, share viewpoints, and learn.
  • Northeastern Academic Integrity Policy - You only cheat yourself if you are not honest. Most often cheating occurs when an individual falls behind or perhaps has other circumstances occurring in their life. Please consult the instructor before ever considering cheating.
    • If you are caught cheating I have to report the violation. My official policy is you receive a 0 in the course. Always remember, if you use any external sources, you must cite them.
  • Student Code of Conduct: Students and instructors will follow the following guide for how we conduct ourselves. This is to create a respectful environment where everyone can learn.

Make-Up Policy

Students participating in varsity athletics(this does not include club sports or intramurals) or other University sanctioned events may have the need for a make-up. Please contact me in advance of such events, so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

Occasionally, other life events and circumstances occur that were not planned. If this is the case, please e-mail me privately.

E-mailing me asking for extensions just because is unfortunately not fair to your classmates. The 10% penalty for each day late has to be enforced so I do not get taken advantage of.


Part of what makes Northeastern University unique, is our diverse cohort of students, faculty, and staff. In order to support this, Northeastern is committed to providing equal access and support to all qualified students through the provision of reasonable accommodations so that each student may fully participate in the University experience. If you have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact the Student Accessibility Services office at or (617) 373-2675 to make an appointment with the Disability Resource Center representatives in 20 Dodge Hall to determine appropriate accommodations.

Lateness and Attendance Policy

Students who do well in this course tend to show up to the course consistently, participate, and engage with their peers. Come to class, come on time, and build good habits! In-Class activities that are not attended are a zero.

Assessment/Course Polices

Please find below the grading distribution that will be used for this course to compute a weighted average for your final grade. You will find grades you earn through the semester on blackboard and your final grade in banner.

  • In-Class Activity: 5%
  • In-Class Labs:     15%
  • Final Project:     20%
  • Assignments:       60%
    • (Each Assignment worth the same % of points)

  • The grade system follows the University Grading System.
    • A  = 95 – 100
    • A- = 91 – 94
    • B+ = 87 – 90
    • B  = 83 – 86
    • B- = 80 – 82
    • C+ = 77 – 79
    • C  = 73 – 76
    • D+ = 67 – 69
    • D  = 63 – 66
    • F  =  0 – 62
  • In the event of a snow day (i.e. we miss a lab or in-class activity) the weight of each assignment increases (There may also be shuffling of course material if we are interrupted).
  • The expectation is that the assignments are fair but difficult, so you should start early!
  • Late Submissions of Assignments receive 10% off per day submitted late (up to 3 days max, then 0% received).
    • Unfortunately, with larger classes I cannot make individual exceptions fairly to your classmates who are likely making other personal sacrifices.
  • Assignments that do not compile/open receive no credit Simply put, programs that do not compile do not do anything.
  • There are no "re-grades" or points awarded one week after your grade is posted. "re-grades" may result in a higher, equal, or lower score.
    • There are no "re-grades" after the semester is over.
    • Do not ask multiple members of the course staff for "re-grades"
  • If you are currently wait listed, you must submit your homework on time. That is the gamble! If you do not have blackboard access, you will submit by e-mail or other course mechanism.
  • There are no extra credit assignments. I reserve the right to add points to assignments that do go above and beyond however.
  • I reserve the right to modify the grading scale in your favor if you show exemplary proficiency in any of the categories. I will never modify the scale to lower a students grade.
  • In class work cannot be made up at a later date unless otherwise arranged with the instructor well in advance.
    • Course work completed after the date cannot be graded, as solutions will have been discussed (this includes if taking this course for an Incomplete).
    • Once again, "in-class" work must be completed in-class unless there is a documented emergency or you have prearranged with the instructor a make-up well in advance.
  • No Facebook, no cell phones. Not only does it distract you, it distracts others! (Divide your tuition by lecture hours and perhaps you will be more motivated as well!)
  • Everyone needs to come see me in office hours (or by appointment) at least one time during the semester to introduce yourself. The purpose is so that you:
    • Know where my office is.
    • Get used to coming to office hours.
    • Let me know how I can help you achieve your goals.

Please do not redistribute or host any materials without e-mailing me first. I generally am happy to share the latest .pdf or slide presentation with those who ask. Thank you for your time!