Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)


Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Fabio Pellacini


We define appearance design as the creation and editing of scene content such as lighting and surface materials in computer graphics. The appearance design process takes a significant amount of time relative to other production tasks and poses difficult artistic challenges. Many user interfaces have been proposed to make appearance design faster, easier, and more expressive, but no formal validation of these interfaces had been published prior to our body of work. With a focus on novice users, we present a series of investigations into the strengths and weaknesses of various appearance design user interfaces. In particular, we develop an experimental methodology for the evaluation of representative user interface paradigms in the areas of lighting and material design. We conduct three user studies having subjects perform design tasks under controlled conditions. In these studies, we discover new insight into the effectiveness of each paradigm for novices measured by objective performance as well as subjective feedback. We also offer observations on common workflow and capabilities of novice users in these domains. We use the results of our lighting study to develop a new representation for artistic control of lighting, where light travels along nonlinear paths.


Originally posted in the Dartmouth College Computer Science Technical Report Series, number TR2011-696.