G for… Gouraud

Gouraud is the name of a filling method used with objects in 3D. It is not mapping, nor bumpmapping or even environment mapping, it is simply something… different. If you want a technical explanation, then go for it here. But let me try to explain it with simple words. 🙂

The tiny demo We love Mr Gouraud by Syntax shows that this coder was a master in this not-so-known technique ! (1997)

Gouraud shading appeared in the 90s, a few years after the first  objects in 3D and naturally before all other techniques listed above.  It consists in filling an object with dithered colors – or a rainbow-like palette if you prefer – hence creating some sort of depth. As the object comes closer it looks brighter and on the contrary it will look darker as it goes away. Of course these are mere words and applying such method isn’t so easy. I guess this may explain why there are so few examples of this brilliant effect :

As far as I know the 2 screenshots right below show the first appearance of this effect on Atari ST courtesy of democrew Electronic Images in a small, simple but so gorgeous screen called Gouraud. (1993 ?)

A colorful effect that truly look gorgeous, doesn’t it  ?

As this effect requires as many colors as possible and since the humble Atari ST can only display 16 colors at once gouraud shaded objects used to be shown alone on screen. Luckily enough if you chose the right colors the object looked good enough to catch all your attention. 🙂

Unfortunately once he appeared, this gouraud effect was only to be seen a couple more times as in the Rumpelkammer demo by Stax (1999).

We had to wait for the new millennium to see a handful of brave coders dare face the challenge again for our greatest pleasure ! I cannot but mention the very nice 2003 Hallucinations demo by Reservoir Gods that managed for the very first time to mix  gouraud and pictures (moreover animated ones !).

It’s colorful, beautiful and wait ! It MOVES !
You will be able to enjoy video excerpts of this great and nice looking gouraud show at the bottom of this page.

Democrew Paradox also gave a try at gouraud in 2010 with their Sventure demo but I have to admit that this is not my favourite example : first because you will only meet cubes and secondly because they all wear the same colors. Yet we can appreciate that the background features a nice picture even tho it is shown in black and white.

A nice effect but not so nicely chosen colors…
Ouch these colors ! Unless they are supposed to allude to carrots ? 🙂

The same comment works with the latest appearances of gouraud that can be found in a screen from 2003 Posh demo and in another one taken from 2009 Suretrip 2, demo both created by Checkpoint. Undoubtedly very technical screens but I don’t like neither their colors nor their overall design…

Two gouraud, objects rotating and merging. Wow !

I wish I could see new objects shaded with gouraud on condition that they look as good as these seen in Hallucinations. Without design they are just technical effects. I could simply do with the formula « object + picture » but I know that coders can still amaze us !

Let me show you some videos now starting with the beautiful show offered in the  Hallucinations demo :

On with the gouraud spheres that mix together in the Posh demo :

And we end with the technical feat seen in the Suretrip II demo that shows an animation and several gouraud shaded objects. Even tho I don’t like the colors I have to recognize that on a technical point of view this is truly amazing !


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