CS 4300/5310 Computer Graphics

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


  • Instructor: Mike Shah
  • E-mail: mikeshah( a t )Northeastern{dot}edu(Read How to send an e-mail)
  • Office: Virtual Nightingale 132A
  • Student Hours: In Location TBD
    • Review course material with me and ask questions
    • Date/Time: By appointment
    • Sign up for a 15-30 minute appointments arranged by e-mail on Google Hangouts here
  • Forum: Piazza Forum Board
  • Microsoft Teams Link for Live Video: Teams Link
Image 1

The Famous Utah Teapot

Image 2

The Dragon!

Image 3

The Stanford Bunny

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 lecture, piazza, or through e-mail any major changes.

  • To get all of the assignments/activities for the course, you must first click the following link: Course Monorepo Do not do a 'git pull' until class starts (Occasionally I make changes/spelling corrections)
Lecture and Readings Assignments Note(s)
1 Tuesday - May 11, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Course Structure
    • Introduction to Computer Graphics
    • Introduction to Graphics APIs and some History
    • C++ Introduction
    • Begin Module!
A1 Released (Due May. 18 Anywhere on Earth)

Lab 1 Out(Due May 18th)
Welcome back to class!
1 Friday - May 14, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Building a Software Render Fixed-Function Pipeline
    • Rasterization
    • Visibility Problem
    • Graphics Primitives - Point, Line Segment, Triangle
    • Drawing a Line
    • Drawing a Triangle
    • Filling a Triangle
    • C++ walkthrough and some Lab Code
    • Begin Module!
Lab 2 Out(Due May 21 AOE)
-- --
2 Tuesday - May 18, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • 3D Vectors
    • 4x4 Matrix
    • Translation Matrix
    • Rotation Matrix
    • Scale Matrix
    • Projection Matrix
    • Representing Meshes
    • Begin Module!
Lab 3 Out(Due May 25)
-- --
2 Friday - May 21, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Vertex Transformations
    • Translation
    • Rotation
    • Scaling
    • Perspective Transform
    • View Frustum Transform
    • A Simple Camera
    • Clipping
    • Begin Module!
A2 Out (Due. June 1 Anywhere on Earth)

Lab 4 Out (Due May 28)
-- --
3 Tuesday - May 25, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Moving on from our Software Render
    • Fixed-Function Pipelines
    • Some GPU History
    • Modern Programmable Pipelines
    • Drawing our First Shape
    • A First Shader
    • Vertex Buffer in OpenGL
    • Vertex and Fragment Shaders
    • Index Buffers
    • Begin Module!
A3 Released (Due June. 8 Anywhere on Earth)

Lab 5 Out(Due June 1 AOE)
-- --
3 Friday - May 28, 2021
  • Lecture outline
Lab 6 Out(Due June 4 AOE)
-- --
4 Tuesday - June 01, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • OpenGL Abstraction
    • Texture Sampling
    • Mipmapping
    • Normal Mapping
    • Begin Module!
Lab 7 Out(Due June 8 AOE)
-- --
4 Friday - June 04, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Camera
    • Basic Lights
    • Phong Illumination Model
    • Adding a Light to OpenGL
    • Begin Module!
A4 Released (Due June. 11)

Lab 8 Out (Due June 11 AOE)
-Final Project Ideas

-Previous Year Projects

-Form Teams Spreadsheet

-Final Project Repository (Use this for your project!)
5 Tuesday - June 08, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Lights in OpenGL
    • Multiple Lights in Shaders
    • Normal Mapping
    • Begin Module!
A5 Released (Due June. 18)

Lab 9 Out(June 18 AOE)
Start finding resources/tutorials to aide in your final project/consult with professor on idea if needed.
5 Friday - June 11, 2021
  • Lecture outline
A6 Released (Due June. 25 anywhere on Earth)

Lab 10 Out(Due June 22 AOE)
Commit to a final project idea
6 Tuesday - June 15, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Screen Buffers
    • Framebuffer objects
    • Kernels
    • Rendering Engine Study
    • Begin Module!
Lab 11 Out (Due June 22 AOE) Graphics Cheat Sheet There is no exam for this course, however, I have a handy cheat sheet for you to go on forward with!

Start wrapping up project, and begin video production
6 Friday - June 18, 2021
-- --
-- --
7 Tuesday - June 22, 2021
Tentatively an optional for fun Lab 12 or 13 Out
-- --
7 Friday - June 25, 2021
Project Due June 25th (AOE) Last day of Class!
8 Saturday - June 26, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Rays
    • Vectors
    • Math Review
    • Ray Tracing
    • Outputting an Image as a PPM
    • Begin Module!
-- --
Semester is over--this is just an FYI bonus lecture. Enjoy!
8 Sunday - June 27, 2021
  • Lecture outline
    • Normal Vectors
    • Dot Product
    • Cross Product
    • Other Vector Math
    • Ray Tracing part 2!
    • A few additional notes on Ray Tracing
    • Begin Module!
-- --
Semester is over--this is just an FYI bonus lecture. Enjoy!
8 Monday - June 28, 2021
Semester is over--this is just an FYI bonus lecture. Enjoy!
8 Tuesday - June 29, 2021
Semester is over--this is just an FYI bonus lecture. Enjoy!

Course Description

This course is going to teach you the essentials in real-time computer graphics.

Registrar Description:This course teaches the fundamentals of 3D computer graphics to learners who want to make games, 3D simulations, and have an interest in image processing. We use C++ and OpenGL to explore computer graphics programming and understand how to utilize the graphics processing unit (GPU). Additional guidance on using C++ and a refresher of linear algebra and its application in graphics is provided.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

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


  • Previous experience with trigonometry and exposure to linear algebra.
  • You should have basic knowledge in github, using any text-based editor, and how to compile, run, and debug programs.
  • This course will be taught using C++. It is possible you have not taken a specific course on C++ --that is okay, just be willing to learn along the way with the provided materials.
  • 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.


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.

This semester we will be using a "tokens" system such that you can extend an assignment or lab (but not final project) by up to three days total. Simply move the token file to the assignment or lab directory in your github repo and it will be automatically applied. Further directions are in the repository

E-mailing me asking for extensions just because is unfortunately not fair to your classmates, thus in this course, we have the token system which allows you up to extend your assignment by up to 3 days throughout the semester (or otherwise to split 3 tokens for multiple assignments) to complete your work and stay on track. Assignment submissions that are otherwise submitted late without using a token receive a 10% penalty per day.

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


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 DRC@northeastern.edu or (617) 373-2675 to make an appointment with the Disability Resource Center representatives in 20 Dodge Hall to determine appropriate accommodations.
  • We Care is another university resource for helping tackle challenges you may be facing. Asking for help is okay!

Lateness and Attendance Policy

Students who do well in this course tend to show up to the course consistently, participate, start coursework the day it is assigned, and engage with their peers. Come to class, come on time, and build good habits! In-Class activities that are not completed during attendance are a zero.

Wellness Policy

While university can be difficult at times, please do take care of yourself. It is okay to seek help and take a break. Please communicate with your instructor, advisor, and officials at the university if you just need a mental break.

Northeastern Univerity provides resources for student healthcare and general wellness:

I personally remember how difficult university can be juggling myself multiple jobs, multiple clubs, and trying to learn. Do take your wellness seriously!

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 Canvas and your final grade in banner.

  • In-Class Activity: (5%)
  • In-Class Labs:     (15%)(Each equally weighted)
    • Labs are due before class of the following week.
  • Assignments:       (60%)(Each equally weighted)
  • Final Project:     (20%)

  • The grade system follows the University Grading System.
    • A  = 95 – 100
    • A- = 91 – 94.99
    • B+ = 87 – 90.99
    • B  = 83 – 86.99
    • B- = 80 – 82.99
    • C+ = 77 – 79.99
    • C  = 73 – 76.99
    • C- = 70 – 72.99
    • D+ = 67 – 69.99
    • D  = 63 – 66.99
    • D- = 60 – 62.99
    • F  =  0 – 59.99
  • Please do not ask me for an A on the first day of class (It happens enough I have a bullet point here).
  • In the event of a sick/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 can be extended up to 3 days max with your tokens without a penalty--otherwise your assignments lose 10% each day it is turned in late if a token has not been used
    • Unfortunately, with large classes I cannot make individual exceptions (i.e. "special deals") fairly to your classmates who are likely making other personal sacrifices to complete work on time.
    • Come speak to me about your wellness if something is otherwise impeding your progress so we can provide you available resources to succeed.
  • 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.
    • Re-grades are done cautiously to correct any errors that may occur from the course staff.
    • Re-grades are not for "redoing assignments", you have the opportunity to improve based on the feedback for your next assignment.
    • 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 waitlisted, you must submit your homework on time. That is the gamble! If you do not have Canvas access, you will submit by e-mail or other course mechanism (e.g. github).
  • There are no extra credit assignments just for you. I reserve the right to add points to assignments that do go above and beyond however. I reserve the right to give an extra credit assignment to the entire class, though this is highly unlikely.
  • I reserve the right to modify the grading scale in your favor if you show exemplary proficiency in any of the catagories. 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.
  • Lab time is meant for helping students with the lab, not completing homework. I have to prioritize lab first, then can answer homework questions.
  • No Facebook, no cell phones. Not only does it distract you, it distracts others!
  • 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!