The Visual Computer

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 223–237 | Cite as

Procedural modeling of rivers from single image toward natural scene production

  • Jian Zhang
  • Chang-bo WangEmail author
  • Hong Qin
  • Yi Chen
  • Yan Gao
Original Article


The rapid and flexible design of natural environments is an important yet challenging task in graphics simulation, virtual reality, and video game productions. This is particularly difficult for natural river modeling due to its complex topology, geometric diversity, and its natural interaction with the complicated terrain. In this paper, we introduce an integrated method for example-based procedural modeling to overcome such difficulties. First, we propose a compact parametric model to represent the certain river, which inherits typical features of natural rivers such as tributary, distributary, tortuosity, possible lakes adjacent to the river. Then, we demonstrate our method for generating 3D river scene solely based on the parametric model. However, choosing appropriate parameters is a tedious undertaking in practice. To further enhance our method’s functionality, we rely upon a natural river image to extract meaningful parameters toward the rapid procedural production of the new river scene. Finally, we design a new method to compare two river scenes and iteratively optimize the river network by using the simulated annealing technique. Our method can produce natural river scenes from an example river network and single terrain image with little interaction, and the synthesized scene is visually consistent with the input example in terms of feature similarity. We also demonstrate that our procedural modeling approach is highly automatic toward rapid scene production through various graphics examples.


Procedural modeling Natural river generation from images Natural phenomena 



This paper is partially supported by Natural Science Foundation of China (No.61532002, 61672237), Natural Science Foundation Grant NSF IIS-1715985, and National High-tech R&D Program of China (863 Program) under Grant 2015AA016404.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer Science and Software EngineeringEast China Normal UniversityPutuo District, ShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA

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