In my CS class in high school I'm doing a presentation on Computer Graphics and I wanted to talk about Ray Tracing. I was wondering what would be the easiest way to do this without confusing my audience?

What are some of your personal favorite analogies and explanations that have worked effectively to people who have never touched the field?

Please don't mistake this as a 'do my homework' type question. I'm just curious to see what has worked and what hasn't.

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    $\begingroup$ Personally I don't think you need a better explanation for Raytracing, you need one for rasterization because it's somewhat opposite to what happens naturally. Realistically speaking Raytracing is how we see objects, Just instead of rays coming into our eyes we shoot them from the eyes outward ( if we are talking about backward raytracing) and apply all the physics of light etc. Hence one of the reason we get so realistic images $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Use pictures. Thing is raytracing may be one of the simplest concepts to get. With good enough sequence of pictures it becomes clear enough. $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Nicest introduction by far: Disney's Practical Guide to Path Tracing $\endgroup$
    – p2or
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


Here's my introduction: http://www.gabrielgambetta.com/computer-graphics-from-scratch/raytracing.html It uses the somewhat contrived analogy of making a painting by putting a grid in front of a real landscape, and painting a square of the colour you see through each hole in the grid. A raytracer is essentially that, but with some linear algebra :)


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