3. Methodology

3.1 Overview

In this paper, the inputs are genus 0 3D polyhedral models that consist of 1-ring structure triangular meshes. Our work is closest in spirit to Gregory et al.’s [3] work and to Alexa’s work [4]. Our overall system structure is similar to their theme. However, we present novel techniques in our design. The main procedures of our design are listed below:

l          Selection of Vertex Pairs and Decomposition into Morphing Patches: For given two 3D polyhedral models, animators select corresponding vertices on each polyhedron to define correspondences of regions and points in both models. The algorithm automatically partitions the surface of each polyhedron into the same number of morphing patches by computing a shortest path between the selected vertices. The above is corresponding to the high-level control of morphs in our design.

l          3D-to-2D Embedding: Each 3D morphing patch is mapped onto a 2D regular polygon by the proposed relaxation method.

l          Aligning Feature Vertices: The interior vertices in the regular 2D polygons are matched by using a foldover-free warping technique. Users can specify extra feature vertices to have a better control over correspondence. This design corresponds to the lower-level control of morphs.

l          Merging, Re-meshing and Interpolation: The algorithm merges the topological connectivity of morphing patches in the regular 2D polygon. Inserting additional edges retriangulates the regions in the merged regular 2D polygon. This step reconstructs the facets for the new morphing patch, i.e., a common interpolation mesh. Finally, we compute exact interpolation across the common interpolation meshes.

3.2 Specifying Corresponding Morphing Patches

Given two polyhedra A and B, animators interactively design correspondence by partitioning each polyhedron into the same number of regions called morphing patches. Each pair of morphing patches is denoted as ( , ), where  is the corresponding patch index. To define each pair of ( , ), animators must specify the same number of vertices (i.e., called extreme vertices [3]), too. These selected vertices also form corresponding point pairs in both models. The boundary of a morphing patch consists of several consecutive chains. Each chain is obtained by computing a shortest path between two consecutive selected vertices. Animators can partition two input polyhedra into arbitrary number of morphing patches, but each patch cannot cross or overlap the other patches. Once the models are partitioned into several corresponding morphing patches, the next is to compute the correspondence of interior vertices of ( , ).

3.3 Embedding 3D Morphing Patches on Regular 2D Polygons

In the following, we will first describe the basic idea of the proposed relaxation method to compute 3D-to-2D embeddings. This initial approach requires several iterations to be finished. It can be computationally expensive. Next, we propose to solve the linear system of our relaxation method. In this manner, the embedding can be computed very fast.

Given a pair of 3D morphing patches ( , ) defined by n extreme vertices, we embed each on an n-side regular 2D polygon called Di ( , ) by a relaxation method. Each n-regular polygon is inscribed in the unit circle and its center is at (0, 0). The relaxation algorithm consists of three steps. First, the extreme vertices of the morphing patches are mapped to the vertices of Di. Next, each chain of the morphing patch is mapped to an edge of Di. We need to find the 2D coordinates of non-extreme vertices along each chain. The 2D coordinates of these non-extreme vertices are interpolated based on the arc length of the chain. Third, we compute a 2D mapping for the interior vertices of  and by initially mapping them to the center position (0,0). Then, these vertices are moved step by step by the following relaxation equation and this process will continue until all the interior points are stable, i.e., not moved.


In equation (1), there are several parameters defined as follows:

l           is an interior vertex and its initial position is at (0,0). It represents the 2D mapping of a 3D vertex Pi on a morphing patch.

l           is a new position of  according to equation (1).

l           is a 2D mapping of Pj. Pj is one of Pi’s neighbors and  is the number of neighbors of Pi in 3D.

l           is a pulling weight for , and controls the moving speed and its value is between 0 and 1.

We attempt to compute a good embedding which preserves the aspect ratio of the original triangle versus the mapped triangle and does not cause too much distortion To determine , our idea is similar to Kanai et al.’s [10] weight formula used in their harmonic mapping. However, we use a different and a simpler formula. For example, in Figure 1,  is labeled 0 and the weight of a  labeled by 2 is computed by the following equation:  


Fig. 1. The definition of a pulling weight

In equation (2),  is the angle between  and  and  is the angle between  and . These correspond to 3D edges of a morphing patch. In this manner, all  can be computed. In equation (2), we can imagine that the whole system is a spring system. During iterations,  is pulled by several springs connecting to all its neighbors . The idea behind the equation (2) is that long edges subtending to big angles are given relatively small spring constants compared with short edges that subtend to small angles. Based on the equation (1), we can use iteration methods to find all  and terminate iteration when all  are stable. However, in this manner, the computation time is not predictable and could be expensive. Therefore, we will not find  by iteration method and will solve it by the following manner.


Using equation (1), as  is stable, ideally, . Thus, we will have the following.

 =>            (3)

Therefore, assume the number of  is N, we can have the following linear system for the proposed relaxation method.






Let  and , the above linear system can be represented as the following form


This linear system is not singular, so that it has a unique solution. Furthermore, for each , the number of its neighbors is small compared to N. Therefore it is a sparse system and can be solved efficiently by using numerical method.


3.4 Aligning the Features and Foldover-Free Warping

Given a pair of morphing patches ( , ), are their corresponding 2D embeddings. Their extreme vertices are automatically aligned by user specification. Using this initial correspondence, we could directly overlay two embeddings to get a merged embedding for morphing. For example in Figure 2 (a), we select a corresponding morphing patch on two given models and the number of extreme vertices is five. There are two extra vertex pairs and shown in both models, respectively. These extra vertices represent eye corners. In Figure 2(b), we show both  after embedding. It is obvious to see that vertex pairs and do not align if we directly overlay . Therefore, to compute better correspondence, we usually require animators to specify several extra corresponding features such as vertex pairs and on both . Then we employ a foldover-free warping function to align and . Non-feature points will be automatically moved by the warping function, too. Like [5], to minimize distortion due to warping, we first move these extra corresponding feature points linearly to the point halfway between them and then perform warping.

Our warping is simply computed as a weighted sum of radial basis function (RBF). Suppose there are n extra feature pairs. Since are both in 2D, the radial function R consists of two components , where each component has the following form.

,  j = 1,2                             (6)

In equation (6), are coefficients to be computed, g is the radial function and  is a feature point. For each given p, we compute its new position by using equation (6). In total, there are 2n coefficients to compute. In current implementation, the radial basis function we use is a Gaussian function:


In equation (7), the variance  controls the degree of locality of the transformation. In Figure 2 (c), we show  with warping by two extra feature points. This result is better than that of Figure 2(b). Therefore, we can overlay them now to get a merged embedding for morphing. Sometimes, the warping can lead to fold-over (self-intersections) on . We need foldover-free embeddings. To solve foldover, we first check if self-intersections occur on  after warping. If self-intersections occur, we simply iterate equation (1) instead of solving equation (5). Usually, it requires a few iterations and self-intersections will not occur. In the following, we show how to check if self-intersections occur.


Our inputs are genus 0 3D polyhedral models with 1-ring structure. Therefore, if there is no self-intersection on both , each interior point of both embeddings must have a complete 1-ring structure in 2D. If any interior point of an embedding has an incomplete 1-ring structure, the self-intersection occurs. To check if a point has a complete 1-ring structure, we compute the following:

    ( : the right-hand vector cross product)




In equation (8), we need to check all nodes at p’s 1-ring structure. If any violation (i.e., M <=0) occurs, it is an incomplete ring structure in 2D. Note that the vertices of a triangle are in counterclockwise order. Figure 3 is used to illustrate the equation (8). In Figure 3 (a), before embedding, P (i.e., p’s corresponding vertex in 3D) has a complete 1-ring structure. After embedding and warping, a self-intersection occurs as shown in Figure 3 (b). In this case, we simply check all nodes at p’s 1-ring structure and find (a, b) violates equation (8). 

(a)    The user picks five extreme vertices (i.e., blue dots) and two extra feature vertices (i.e., red dots).

(b)   Embeddings without warping.

(c)    Embedding with warping by two extra features (i.e., red dots).

Figure 2. Embedding and warping.

(a)            (b)

Figure 3 (a) prior to embedding and warping,  has a complete 1-ring structure in 3D and (b)  has an incomplete 1-ring structure in 2D after embedding and warping.

3.5 Efficient Local Merging

Given two embeddings , we merge them to produce a common embedding that contains the faces, edges and vertices. The complexity of a brute-force merging algorithm is +k),where n is the number of edges and k is the number of intersections. This naïve approach globally checks all edges to find the possible intersections. We present a novel method for checking edges locally and efficiently computing the intersections. The complexity of the proposed method is . Additionally, to efficiently implement our method, a lookup table is created.

3.5.1 The Classification of the Corresponding Positions

The merging algorithm wants to overlay each edge on , where S and E represent the starting and ending points of a given edge. Since the correspondence of each extreme vertex has been established before embedding by animators, we perform the overlay starting from a , where is an extreme vertex. Since  is a connected planar graph, we can traverse all edges starting from  and overlay them on  edge by edge. We can imagine that an edge consists of an infinite number of points. As we overlay this edge on , the corresponding positions of these points have three kinds on  as illustrated in Figure 4. These three possibilities are: 

1.      Some point  (i.e., ) falls on a vertex  of a triangle .

2.      Some point  falls on an edge  of a triangle .

3.      Some point  falls on the interior of a triangle   .

Figure 4. There are three kinds of corresponding positions (i.e., red dot) on .


When an edge  (for simplicity, is interchanged with ) is overlaid on , this edge can be split into several line segments by a triangle . The relationship between  and  can be classified into eighteen kinds of cases (as shown in Figure 5). For example in Figure 6, the edge  could be split into the following cases (i.e., according to Figure 5) 15-2-2-6-9-2-2-3, 14-15-2-6-9-2-2-3, or other sequences. But the former splitting sequence generates the minimum number of new points on . We shall call such splitting as the optimal splitting.

Figure 5. The relationship between a line segment  and can be classified into eighteen kinds of cases. The left-most column is classified based on Figure 4.


Figure 6. (a) The optimal splitting generates nine new points on . (b) The non-optimal splitting generates ten new points on . In (a) and (b), the label on each point is made according to Figure 5.


3.5.2 Structures of Minimal Contour Coverage (SMCC)

Whichever a new point generated by the optimal splitting can be found with the help of structures of minimal contour coverage (SMCC) on . Based on the classification in Figure 4, there are three kinds of SMCC for the corresponding position (Figure 7) defined in the following.

1.      For some point  falls on , ’s SMCC is ’s 1-ring structure.

2.      For some point  falls on , its SMCC is a 4-sided polygon containing .

1.      For some point  falls on , its SMCC is a triangle .

In above, ,  and  are all defined in Figure 4.

Figure 7. There are three kinds of SMCC for  on : (1) 1-ring, (2) 4-sided polygon and (3) a triangle.


Assume the starting point  of an edge  has established its SMCC on . If  could generate new intersection points with some edges  outside S’s SMCC,  must generate a new intersection point with S’s SMCC. To the contrary, if  does not intersect with S’s SMCC, it also will not intersect with other edges  outside S’s SMCC (as shown in Figure 8). So the merging can be done locally with S’s SMCC.

Figure 8. The merging can be locally done with S’s SMCC.

The local merging can be further classified into two kinds of the merging conditions. One is called area condition at which the local case  is not co-incident with any imaginary line that links s with the contour vertex of SMCC. If  is co-incident with any imaginary line, this is called line condition (as shown in Figure 9). The determination of the local merging condition is evaluated by the following:

M = , N = , where ,  and .



Figure 9. There are two kinds of the local merging conditions.

Based on the above classifications, we can use different formulas (i.e., equation (10) and (11)) to determine whether  intersects with S’s SMCC or not.  The results of equation (10) and (11) lead to different conditions as showed in Figure 10.

1. Area Condition:

Let , and suppose V on the ,  



 Let                        (10)

2. Line Condition: (assume co-incident with )


(a) The results of the equation (10) and (11).

(b) Local merging condition table.

Figure 10. Classifications of local merging conditions

Based on the analysis of Figure 10 (b), we can replace Figure 5 with Figure 10 (b). Figure 10 (b) can provide us a lookup table to efficiently implement our merging algorithm.


Our merging algorithm needs to establish the SMCC structure prior to proceeding the local merging. In Figure 7, we have demonstrated how to find a SMCC structure. In our design, once a new intersection occurs, we will establish its SMCC immediately for further potential merging. For example, in Figure 11, an edge  and A’s SMCC has been created using Figure 7. Using Figure 10 (b), we find  intersects with A’s SMCC at C. Next, we create C’s SMCC using Figure 7 again. Again, with the help of Figure 10 (b), the edge  intersects with C’s SMCC at D. In this manner, we repeat the above steps until we reach at B. Of course, we need to create B’s SMCC, since B could be the starting point of the other edge (i.e., not yet overlaid) from . Finally, we recall in Section 3.5.1 that we start the local merging from an extreme vertex. The SMCC of an extreme vertex is its 1-ring structure. Given two embeddings  in Figure 12, we show a complete sequence of overlaying  on  by the proposed method.

Figure 11. The merging of can be completed step by step.

Figure 12. An example of merging is completed step by step by our algorithm.


3.6 Re-triangulate the Merged Embeddings

Once the merging is completed, we produce a non-triangulated planar graph called . In order to re-triangulate , we need to insert additional edges to re-triangulate . For simplicity, our approach is very straightforward and is described as follows. For each point  on , the algorithm must connect the neighboring points of  to establish its 1-ring cyclic structure. Our design principle (as shown in Figure 13) is that the inserted edge (i.e., red line in Figure 13) connecting the neighboring points is not allowed to generate any new intersection point with other existing edges (i.e., green lines). It is very easy to check if an inserted edge intersects with other edges or not. We can easily adapt the equation (10) for this purpose.

Figure 13. (a) The inserted  is not legal and (b) ’s 1-ring cyclic structure is established by inserting several legal edges.

3.7    Reconstructing the Source Models and Interpolation

Once we finish the preceding steps, we have established a complete correspondence between two models. Our merging algorithm produces new points in 2D due to intersections. For these new points, we need to find its corresponding 3D points in both models. We first compute the barycentric representation of a new point in the basis of three old points in 2D. Then, the barycentric representation is used to interpolate positions of these three old points in 3D. These old points are referred to the original vertices on the input models. In this manner we find 3D position of a new point. Similarly, for a new point, we can interpolate its other attributes such as color and texture coordinates if required.

Once the above step is finished, the morphing sequence can be easily generated by linearly moving each vertex from its position in model A to the corresponding position in model B in term of time t. Other authors mentioned this kind of linear interpolation can produces satisfying results in most cases. However, in some special case, the self-intersections can occur. Gregory et al. [3] propose the user-specified morphing trajectory by the cubic spline curves for an alternative to linear interpolation. This simple alternative can be included in near future.