A Taxonomy of Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Function Lobes for Rendering Engineers

We propose a taxonomy and terminology for rendering engineers to use in describing the main categories of mathematical lobes that are combined to implement bidirectional scattering distribution functions (BSDFs). Bringing consistent language to this area will increase clarity in API names, textbooks, and scholarly publications. We developed this taxonomy and terminology for consistency across our own upcoming works. The taxonomy corresponds to the major BSDF implementation branches in a renderer, rather than surface appearance, and is consistent with physical considerations. The terminology aligns as closely as possible with previous work in rendering and adjacent fields, while resolving inconsistencies among them. The taxonomy is not intended for art direction, machine vision research, optics, material/lighting engineering, or other areas where the critical distinctions between materials differ from those needed by a renderer.


Morgan McGuire (NVIDIA)
Julie Dorsey (Yale University)
John F. Hughes (Brown University)
Steve Marschner (Cornell University)
Peter Shirley (NVIDIA)

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