Multi-resolution terrain rendering with GPU tessellation

Hyeong Yeop Kang, Hanyoung Jang, Chang Sik Cho, Jung Hyun Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


GPU tessellation is very efficient and is reshaping the terrain-rendering paradigm. We present a novel terrain-rendering algorithm based on GPU tessellation. The planar domain of the terrain is partitioned into a set of tiles, and a coarse-grained quadtree is constructed for each tile using a screen-space error metric. Then, each node of the quadtree is input to the GPU pipeline together with its own tessellation factors. The nodes are tessellated and the vertices of the tessellated mesh are displaced by filtering the displacement maps. The multi-resolution scheme is designed to optimize the use of GPU tessellation. Further, it accepts not only height maps but also geometry images, which displace more vertices toward the higher curvature feature parts of the terrain surface such that the surface detail can be well reconstructed with a small number of vertices. The efficiency of the proposed method is proven through experiments on large terrain models. When the screen-space error threshold is set to a pixel, a terrain surface tessellated into 8.5 M triangles is rendered at 110 fps on commodity PCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-469
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Computer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • GPU tessellation
  • Geometry image
  • Height map
  • Terrain rendering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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