Caustic Art

The computation of caustics created by reflection or refraction of light is a well-studied problem in computer graphics. This paper investigates the inverse problem: Given a greyscale intensity image, find the shape of a surface that will cast a caustic that reproduces this image. We formulate this goal as an optimization problem on a 2D mesh representation on a specular surface. A normal field is obtained from this deformed mesh and subsequently integrated to a height field surface. We show with several examples that this height field surface reproduces the desired caustic images to very high accuracy, enabling new applications in sculptural art, product design, or architecture.

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