I was wondering if anyone could explain how the Painter's algorithm would handle transparent objects? Can the Painter's algorithm handle transparency?
The common way to render transparent polygons in a rasterizer is by use of Alpha Blending, which basically combines the colour of the supposedly transparent pixel with the colour of the background at that pixel's position, this way rendering the pixel transparently onto what was already rendered before. This technique, however, requires your polygons (or at least the transparent ones) to be sorted from back to front, at least in general non-trivial cases, since you can only combine the transparent colour with what has already been rendered behind it.
But since the Painter's Algorithm already requires ploygons to be sorted from back to front (which is pretty much the entire essence of the algorithm), this just fits naturally into the rest of the algorithm. Thus, supporting transparency becomes rather straight forward by simply doing any variant of alpha blending of the pixel with the background instead of overwriting the background.