Computer Graphics

"Let's make some pretty pictures--from the ground up" -- Your Instructor

Course Information

  • Course Number: Computer Graphics
  • Semester: Summer 20
  • Piazza: Forum Board
      Use piazza instead of e-mail for all course related matters
    • This way all course staff can answer questions
    • Class as a whole can participate and learn in discussions
    • Code also formats better nicely pasted in
    • (Linking your github is also easy for private posts)
  • Section 1: CS 5310
    • Schedule: Lectures Wednesday at 6pm
    • Location: Online!


  • Instructor: Mike Shah
  • E-mail: mikeshah( a t )Northeastern{dot}edu
    • Use e-mail primarily for personal matters
    • e.g. I have a co-op interview and need to reschedule XYZ
    • e.g. I am away for a conference on date X to date Y
    • e.g. I am away for a doctors visit.
    • (Read How to send an e-mail)
  • Office: Nightingale 132A
  • Student Hours: In Location TBD
    • Review course material with me and ask questions
    • Date/Time: By appointment
    • Sign up for a 15-30 minute appointments arranged by e-mail on Google Hangouts here
Teaching Assistant(s)
Akanksha Gupta gupta.aka (a t) northeastern . edu
  • Hours/Location listed on piazza under Resources/Staff
Amit Mulay (a t) northeastern . edu
  • Hours/Location listed on piazza under Resources/Staff

Schedule/Road Map

The following is our tentative syllabus for the course, some changes should be expected throughout the semester. I will announce in class lecture, piazza, or through e-mail any major changes.

  • To get all of the assignments/activities for the course, you must first click the following link: Computer Graphics Monorepo Do not do a 'git pull' until class starts (Occasionally I make changes/spelling corrections)
Lecture and Readings Assignments Note(s)
1 Wednesday - May 06, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • Course Structure
    • Introduction to Computer Graphics
    • Introduction to Graphics APIs and some History
    • Getting Started with the Simple Directmedia Layer version 2 (SDL2)
    • Begin Module!
A1 Released (Due May 15)

Lab 1 Out
Welcome back to class!
2 Wednesday - May 13, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • Drawing a Line
    • Drawing a Triangle
    • Filling a Triangle
    • Outputting an Image as a PPM
    • Begin Module!
A2 released (Due May 29)

Lab 1 due and Lab 2 Out
-- --
3 Wednesday - May 20, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • Cooridinate Systems
    • Trigonometry
    • Vectors
    • Linear Algebra - Matrices
    • Begin Module!
Lab 2 due and Lab 3 Out
-- --
4 Wednesday - May 27, 2020
Lab 3 due and Lab 4 Out
-- --
5 Wednesday - June 03, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • Moving on from our Software Render
    • Some GPU History
    • Drawing our First Shape
    • Vertex Buffer in OpenGL
    • Vertex and Fragment Shaders
    • Index Buffers
    • Begin Module!
A3 Released (Due June 12)

Lab 4 due and Lab 5 Out
-- --
6 Wednesday - June 10, 2020
  • Lecture outline
Lab 5 due and Lab 6 Out
-- --
7 Wednesday - June 17, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • C++ review of object lifetime and memory
    • Abstraction in C++ for our Framework
    • Texture Sampling
    • Mipmapping
    • Normal Mapping
    • Begin Module!
A4 Released (Due June 30)

Lab 6 due and Lab 7 Out
-- --
8 Wednesday - June 24, 2020
Lab 7 due and Lab 8 Out -Final Project Ideas

-Previous Year Projects

-Form Teams Spreadsheet

-Final Project Repository (Use this for your project!)
9 Wednesday - July 01, 2020
  • Lecture outline
A5 Released (Due July 16

Lab 8 due and Lab 9 Out
-Final Project Ideas

-Previous Year Projects

-Form Teams Spreadsheet

-Final Project Repository (Use this for your project!)
10 Wednesday - July 08, 2020
  • Lecture outline
Lab 9 due and Lab 10 Out Commit to a final project idea
11 Wednesday - July 15, 2020
  • Lecture outline
    • Screen Buffers
    • Framebuffer objects
    • Kernels
    • Rendering Engine Study
    • Begin Module!
A6 Released (Due July 27 anywhere on Earth)

Lab 10 due and Lab 11 Out
Start finding resources/tutorials to aide in your final project/consult with professor on idea if needed.
12 Wednesday - July 22, 2020
Lab 11 due and Lab 12 Out Start final project development!
13 Wednesday - July 29, 2020
Lab 12 due and (Optional) Lab 13 Out Continue developing project
14 Wednesday - August 05, 2020
(Optional) Lab 13 Due Graphics Cheat Sheet There is no exam for this course, however, I have a handy cheat sheet for you to go on forward with!

Start wrapping up project, and begin video production
15 Wednesday - August 12, 2020
Project Due Last day of Summer Full classes

Course Description

This course s the fundamentals of Computer Graphics. We will be using C++ and OpenGL to explore computer graphics programming. C++ may be new to many students and often poses to be one of the challenges to entering the field of computer graphics so there will be additional guidance on learning this language. This course also provides a refresher of linear algebra throughout the course.

Registrar Description: Charts a path through every major aspect of computer graphics with varying degrees of emphasis. Discusses hardware issues: size and speed; lines, polygons, and regions; modeling, or objects and their relations; viewing, or what can be seen (visibility and perspective); rendering, or how it looks (properties of surfaces, light, and color); transformations, or moving, placing, distorting, and animating and interaction, or drawing, selecting, and transforming.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be ready to:

  • Build graphics applications using OpenGL and C++.
  • Be able to take more advanced graphics courses (Advanced graphics, Computer Vision, GPGPU, etc).
  • Understand how to utilize the GPU for general purpose programming (e.g. OpenCL).
  • Position yourself for jobs in gaming, entertainment, or hardware involving graphics.


  • (Undergrad) Prereq. CS 3540 or permission of instructor
  • (Grad)Knowledge of computer graphics, differential calculus, operating systems concepts, and algorithms; restricted to students in the Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences.

Additional Course Prerequisites

  • This course will be taught using C++. It is possible you have not taken a specific course on C++ --that is okay.
    • This means, you will learn more in this class. That is a good thing.
    • This means, you will have to work hard. I will support you in learning some C++, and early lectures will be devoted to some C++.
    • I feel strongly about using C++, as the game and entertainment industry largely uses modern C++. The C dialect is additionally used for programming GPUs, so it can be easier think in one language.
  • You should have basic knowledge in github, using any text-based editor, and how to compile, run, and debug programs.


There will be no required textbook to purchase for this course. However, these resources have been vetted, and I recommend for mastery (while taking this course, and reviewing later on in your career).

Academic Integrity and Non-Discrimination

Students and instructors are to follow the Northeastern policies on these important issues.

  • Northeastern Non-Discrimination Policy - This classroom is a safe space for the instructor and students to talk about ideas, share viewpoints, and learn.
  • Northeastern Academic Integrity Policy - You only cheat yourself if you are not honest. Most often cheating occurs when an individual falls behind or perhaps has other circumstances occurring in their life. Please consult the instructor before ever considering cheating.
    • If you are caught cheating I have to report the violation. My official policy is you receive a 0 in the course. Always remember, if you use any external sources, you must cite them.
  • Student Code of Conduct: Students and instructors will follow the following guide for how we conduct ourselves. This is to create a respectful environment where everyone can learn.

Make-Up Policy

Students participating in varsity athletics(this does not include club sports or intramurals) or other University sanctioned events may have the need for a make-up. Please contact me in advance of such events, so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

Occasionally, other life events and circumstances occur that were not planned. If this is the case, please e-mail me privately.

E-mailing me asking for extensions just because is unfortunately not fair to your classmates. The 10% penalty for each day late has to be enforced so I do not get taken advantage of.


Part of what makes Northeastern University unique, is our diverse cohort of students, faculty, and staff. In order to support this, Northeastern is committed to providing equal access and support to all qualified students through the provision of reasonable accommodations so that each student may fully participate in the University experience.

  • If you have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact the Student Accessibility Services office at or (617) 373-2675 to make an appointment with the Disability Resource Center representatives in 20 Dodge Hall to determine appropriate accommodations.
  • We Care is another university resource for helping tackle challenges you may be facing. Asking for help is okay!

Lateness and Attendance Policy

Students who do well in this course tend to show up to the course consistently, participate, start coursework the day it is assigned, and engage with their peers. Come to class, come on time, and build good habits! In-Class activities that are not completed during attendance are a zero.

Wellness Policy

While university can be difficult at times, please do take care of yourself. It is okay to seek help and take a break. Please communicate with your instructor, advisor, and officials at the university if you just need a mental break.

Northeastern Univerity provides resources for student healthcare and general wellness:

Assessment/Course Polices

Please find below the grading distribution that will be used for this course to compute a weighted average for your final grade. You will find grades you earn through the semester on Canvas and your final grade in banner.

  • In-Class Activity: 5%
  • In-Class Labs:     15%
  • Final Project:     20%
  • Assignments:       60%
    • (Each Assignment worth the same % of points)

  • The grade system follows the University Grading System.
    • A  = 95 – 100
    • A- = 91 – 94.99
    • B+ = 87 – 90.99
    • B  = 83 – 86.99
    • B- = 80 – 82.99
    • C+ = 77 – 79.99
    • C  = 73 – 76.99
    • C- = 70 – 72.99
    • D+ = 67 – 69.99
    • D  = 63 – 66.99
    • D- = 60 – 62.99
    • F  =  0 – 59.99
  • Please do not ask me for an A on the first day of class (It happens enough I have a bullet point here).
  • In the event of a sick/snow day (i.e. we miss a lab or in-class activity) the weight of each assignment increases (There may also be shuffling of course material if we are interrupted).
  • The expectation is that the assignments are fair but difficult, so you should start early!
  • Late Submissions of Assignments receive 10% off per day submitted late (up to 3 days max, then 0% received)
    • Unfortunately, with large classes I cannot make individual exceptions (i.e. "special deals") fairly to your classmates who are likely making other personal sacrifices to complete work on time.
    • Come speak to me about your wellness if something is otherwise impeding your progress so we can provide you available resources to succeed.
  • Assignments that do not compile/open receive no credit Simply put, programs that do not compile do not do anything.
  • There are no "re-grades" or points awarded one week after your grade is posted. "re-grades" may result in a higher, equal, or lower score.
    • There are no "re-grades" after the semester is over.
    • Do not ask multiple members of the course staff for "re-grades"
  • If you are currently waitlisted, you must submit your homework on time. That is the gamble! If you do not have Canvas access, you will submit by e-mail or other course mechanism (e.g. github).
  • There are no extra credit assignments just for you. I reserve the right to add points to assignments that do go above and beyond however. I reserve the right to give an extra credit assignment to the entire class, though this is highly unlikely.
  • I reserve the right to modify the grading scale in your favor if you show exemplary proficiency in any of the catagories. I will never modify the scale to lower a students grade.
  • In class work cannot be made up at a later date unless otherwise arranged with the instructor well in advance.
    • Course work completed after the date cannot be graded, as solutions will have been discussed (this includes if taking this course for an Incomplete).
    • Once again, "in-class" work must be completed in-class unless there is a documented emergency or you have prearranged with the instructor a make-up well in advance.
  • Lab time is meant for helping students with the lab, not completing homework. I have to prioritize lab first, then can answer homework questions.
  • No Facebook, no cell phones. Not only does it distract you, it distracts others!
  • Everyone needs to come see me in office hours (or by appointment) at least one time during the semester to introduce yourself. The purpose is so that you:
    • Know where my office is.
    • Get used to coming to office hours.
    • Let me know how I can help you achieve your goals.

Please do not redistribute or host any materials without e-mailing me first. I generally am happy to share the latest .pdf or slide presentation with those who ask. Thank you for your time!