Computer Graphics

University of California - Berkeley

Animating Sand, Mud, and Snow

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Computer animations often lack the subtle environmental changes that should occur due to the actions of the char- acters. Squealing car tires usually leave no skid marks, airplanes rarely leave jet trails in the sky, and most run- ners leave no footprints. In this paper, we describe a sim- ulation model of ground surfaces that can be deformed by the impact of rigid body models of animated characters. To demonstrate the algorithms, we show footprints made by a runner in sand, mud, and snow as well as bicycle tire tracks, a bicycle crash, and a falling runner. The shapes of the footprints in the three surfaces are quite different, but the effects were controlled through only five essentially independent parameters. To assess the realism of the re- sulting motion, we compare the simulated footprints to video footage of human footprints in sand.

Received the Michael A. J. Sweeney award for best student paper.


Robert W. Sumner, James F. O'Brien, and Jessica K. Hodgins. "Animating Sand, Mud, and Snow". In Proceedings of Graphics Interface 98, pages 125–132, June 1998. Michael A. J. Sweeney award for best student paper.

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Revised Version

As recipients of the Award for Best Paper, the authors were invited to submit an extended version to Computer Graphics Forum.