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Isocaps Add Context to Visualizations

What Are Isocaps?

Isocaps are planes that are fitted to the limits of an isosurface to provide a visual context for the isosurface. Isocaps show a cross-sectional view of the interior of the isosurface for which the isocap provides an end cap.

The following two pictures illustrate the use of isocaps. The first is an isosurface without isocaps.

The second picture shows the effect of adding isocaps to the same isosurface.

Defining Isocaps

Isocaps, like isosurfaces, are created as patch graphics objects. Use the isocaps command to generate the data to pass to patch. For example:


creates isocaps for the scalar volume data voldata at the value isoval. You should create the isosurface using the same volume data and isovalue to ensure that the edges of the isocaps fit the isosurface.

Setting the patch FaceColor property to interp results in a coloring that maps the data values spanned by the isocap to colormap entries. You can also set other patch properties to control the effects of lighting and coloring on the isocaps.

Adding Isocaps to an Isosurface

This example illustrates how to set coloring and lighting characteristics when working with isocaps. There are five basic steps:

  1. Generate and process your volume data.

  2. Create the isosurface and isocaps and set patch properties to control the coloring and lighting.

  3. Create the isocaps and set properties.

  4. Specify the view.

  5. Add lights to the scene.

1. Prepare the Data

This example uses a 3-D array of random (rand) data to define the volume data. The data is then smoothed (smooth3).

data = rand(12,12,12);
data = smooth3(data,'box',5);

2. Create the Isosurface and Set Properties

Use isosurface and patch to create the isosurface and set coloring and lighting properties. Reduce the AmbientStrength, SpecularStrength, and DiffuseStrength of the reflected light to compensate for the brightness of the two light sources used to provide more uniform lighting.

Recalculate the vertex normals of the isosurface to produce smoother lighting (isonormals).

isoval = .5;
h = patch(isosurface(data,isoval),...

3. Create the Isocaps and Set Properties

Define the isocaps using the same data and isovalue as the isosurface. Specify interpolated coloring and select a colormap that provides better contrasting colors with the blue isosurface than those in the default colormap (colormap).

colormap hsv

4. Define the View

Set the data aspect ratio to [1,1,1] so that the display is in correct proportions (daspect). Eliminate white space within the axes and set the view to 3-D (axis tight, view).

axis tight

5. Add Lighting

To add fairly uniform lighting, but still take advantage of the ability of light sources to make visible subtle variations in shape, this example uses two lights, one to the left and one to the right of the camera (camlight). Use Gouraud lighting to produce the smoothest variation of color (lighting).

camlight right
camlight left

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