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GPU Gems 2: Programming Techniques for High-Performance Graphics and General-Purpose Computation by Randima Fernando, Matt Pharr

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Chapter 17. Efficient Soft-Edged Shadows Using Pixel Shader Branching

Yury UralskyNVIDIA Corporation

Rendering realistic shadows has always been a hard problem in computer graphics. Soft shadows present an even greater challenge to developers, even when real-time performance is not required. Yet shadows are important visual clues that help us to establish spatial relationships between objects in a scene. In the past, artists understood the importance of shadows and used them to their advantage to emphasize certain objects and add depth to their pictures.

Real-world shadows always appear to have a certain amount of blurriness across their edges, and never appear strictly hard. Even on a bright, sunny day, when shadows are the sharpest, this is a ...

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