Visual Models of Morphogenesis:
A Guided Tour
Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, Mark Hammel, and Radomir Mech
Department of Computer Science
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
- Rapid progress in the modeling of biological structures and simulation
of their development has occurred over the last few years. It has been
coupled with the visualization of simulation results, which has led to
a better understanding of morphogenesis and given rise to new procedural
techniques for realistic image synthesis. This hypertext document reviews
models of morphogenesis with a significant visual component, which were
developed or reproduced in the Computer Science Departments at the University
of Regina (1987 - August, 1991) and the University of Calgary (September,
1991 - present). The material is based on papers [Pru1993,
Pru1994a], which cover
the topic in more depth and include more extensive lists of references.
Keywords: morphogenesis, simulation and visualization of biological
phenomena, developmental model, reaction-diffusion, diffusion-limited growth,
cellular automaton, L-system, realistic image synthesis.
If a natural object or organism demonstrates consistency of form
[...], such symmetry is the consequence of Something rather than Nothing.
Adrian D. Bell [Bel1985]
This document has its origins in
two survey papers on the development of biological structures.
The first appeared in the Proceedings of
Graphics Interface '93 [Pru1993] and the second in
Artificial Life [Pru1994a].
In 1994, Mark Hammel and I presented
the main theses of these papers in a hypertext document
available through the World Wide Web, complemented with additional images and
The original version of this document also appeared on the Siggraph '94
Courses CD-ROM as a part of the Modeling Natural Phenomena
Material from several other papers, in particular
[Pru1994c] , and
was subsequently added to the WWW version.
The WWW document is presented here using two formats.
The plain format includes no in-line images (except for
navigational icons) and animations. Hopefully, this will make the text
easier to read
with terminal-based browsers or using slow communication links.
The text includes hyperlinks to images and animations. To display them,
viewers for JPEG images and
QuickTime movies are needed. Each image and animation link has a
references associated with it. This reference provides the title of the
particular piece, copyright information, and, in the case of animations,
the size of the QuickTime file. You may wish to check the
references for animations before downloading them, since some are quite
large (ranging in size from 28KB to 3.3 MB).
The deluxe format, prepared in 1997 by Christian Jacob, puts more
emphasis on the appearance of the pages, which, in particular, include
in-line images and animations. A fast communication link is necessary
to achieve a reasonable access time.
It is my intention to keep updating this document so that it remains a
current description of the work on visual models of morphogenesis
in our lab.
If you have any comments on Visual Models of Morphogeneis:
A Guided Tour, please send me e-mail to
May 8, 1997