Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Legacy Department

Digital Production Arts


Davis, Timothy A

Committee Member

Penna, Tony

Committee Member

Wrangle, Anderson


The lighting and shading of human teeth in current computer animation features and live-action movies with effects are often intentionally avoided or processed by simple methods since they interact with light in complex ways through their intricate layered structure. The semi-translucent appearance of natural human teeth which result from subsurface scattering is difficult to replicate in synthetic scenes, though two techniques are often implemented. The first technique is to create an anatomically correct layered model, and render the teeth with both theoretically and empirically derived optical parameters of human teeth using physical subsurface materials. The second technique largely takes advantage of visual cheating, achieved by irradiance blending of finely painted textures. The result visually confirms that for most situations, non-physically based shading can yield believable rendered teeth by finely controlling contribution layers. In particular situations, such as an extremely close shot of a mouth, however, a physically correct shading model is necessary to produce highly translucent and realistic teeth.