This study investigates the effects of various common lighting phenomena on human perception found in water-rich virtual environments. The investigation uses a traditional Psychophysical Analysis (PPA) to examine viewer perception of these lighting phenomena as they relate to rendering cost and reveals common trends in perceptual value among the phenomena. The work includes the use of a web-based testing system, proposed for the first time in familiar literature. The system includes five scenes with eight common lighting variables. Every scene depicts a different water scenario, but each shows every lighting phenomenon. The animated videos are rated in order of realism while one lighting variable is changed. The results of this PPA are then compared against the individual cost of each lighting phenomenon and an overall value is derived.

The study shows there is a unique order of importance for lighting phenomena in water-rich virtual environments. The results of the PPA show trends in perceptual quality and that not all lighting phenomena are equal. The testing will also show the cost of each phenomenon is not equal. The study concludes with general guidelines while rendering water-rich scenes.

In future work this “order” can be used to reduce expensive rendering costs associated with these complex scenes with less expense to visual quality. A collective goal to this work and others is real-time interactive water with plausible or ultimately photorealistic results.


Psychophysical, lighting, rendering, perception, HVS, phenomena, water

Date of this Version



Computer Graphics Technology

Department Head

Dr. Marvin Sarapin

Month of Graduation


Year of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. James Mohler

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

Dr. Bedrich Benes

Committee Member 1

Nicoletta Adamo-Villani

Committee Member 2

Dr. Gary Bertoline