A layered, heterogeneous reflectance model for acquiring and rendering human skin

Craig Donner, Tim Weyrich, Eugene D'eon, Ravi Ramamoorthi, Szymon Rusinkiewicz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

40 Scopus citations


We introduce a layered, heterogeneous spectral reflectance model for human skin. The model captures the inter-scattering of light among layers, each of which may have an independent set of spatially-varying absorption and scattering parameters. For greater physical accuracy and control, we introduce an infinitesimally thin absorbing layer between scattering layers. To obtain parameters for our model, we use a novel acquisition method that begins with multi-spectral photographs. By using an inverse rendering technique, along with known chromophore spectra, we optimize for the best set of parameters for each pixel of a patch. Our method finds close matches to a wide variety of inputs with low residual error. We apply our model to faithfully reproduce the complex variations in skin pigmentation. This is in contrast to most previous work, which assumes that skin is homogeneous or composed of homogeneous layers. We demonstrate the accuracy and flexibility of our model by creating complex skin visual effects such as veins, tattoos, rashes, and freckles, which would be difficult to author using only albedo textures at the skin's outer surface. Also, by varying the parameters to our model, we simulate effects from external forces, such as visible changes in blood flow within the skin due to external pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Papers, SIGGRAPH Asia'08
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Print)9781450318310
StatePublished - 2008
EventACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Papers, SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: Dec 10 2008Dec 13 2008

Publication series

NameACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Papers, SIGGRAPH Asia'08


OtherACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Papers, SIGGRAPH Asia 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


  • Layered materials
  • Light transport
  • Reflection models
  • Skin reflectance
  • Subsurface scattering


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