First Steps: An introductory tutorialΒΆ

This tutorial gives a short introduction in the usage of the cgkit package. In the first example, you create a simple scene that just has one sphere (sort of a “Hello World” scene). To do so, create a file called “” that contains the following line:


Now launch the viewer tool passing the above file as argument (if you have downloaded the source package, don’t invoke the viewer tool from inside the cgkit directory. If you do, Python will load the cgkit package from the wrong directory and you’ll get an ImportError exception):


The result should look something like this:


The viewer tool reads the contents of the file which in this case is an ordinary Python file and displays the scene using OpenGL. When the input file is processed via the viewer tool it is executed in a special environment where a couple of modules have already been imported. That’s why calling Sphere() doesn’t result in a NameError exception. If you import the relevant modules yourself you can also call the script without the viewer tool (however, you wouldn’t get a visualization of the scene then). You can also create the above scene directly in a Python shell:

>>> from cgkit.all import *
>>> Sphere()
<cgkit.quadrics.Sphere object at 0x051CC2D0>

The first line imports all you need from cgkit which has to be done manually now. The second line creates an instance of the Sphere class. Usually, each object automatically inserts itself into the scene, so we don’t have to keep the resulting reference. Now let’s create another object:

>>> b=Box(name="Cube", pos=(1.5,2,0))
>>> listWorld()
+---Cube (Box/BoxGeom)
+---Sphere (Sphere/SphereGeom)

The first line creates a box object. This time we are passing a couple of parameters like the object’s name and its position and we store the object in the variable b so we can manipulate the box afterwards. The second line calls the listWorld() function which prints a tree representation of the current scene. Now it’s time for a little nitpicking, actually the function only displays the world (hence its name) and not the entire scene. The world is what you see, it stores all 3D objects that have a visual representation and is part of the scene. The whole scene also contains other objects such as the timer, animation curves, etc. An object stored in the scene is called a component and an object stored in the world is, well, a world object (which is also a component as it is also part of the scene). But back to the example. We have kept a reference to the box, so let’s see what we can do with it:

>>> = "The Cube"
>>> listWorld()
+---Sphere (Sphere/SphereGeom)
+---The Cube (Box/BoxGeom)
>>> b.pos
(1.5, 2, 0)
>>> b.pos=vec3(1,0,2)
>>> b.pos
(1, 0, 2)
>>> b.scale
(1, 1, 1)

Every world object has a set of attributes that defines its state. The exact set of attributes depends on the type of object, but there are some common attributes that every world object has such as a name or a position (see the cgkit manual for a reference of the available world objects together with their attributes).

In the first example, we were only specifying one sphere with its default attributes, that’s why we had some geometry in the scene. But for a 3D scene to be displayed you usually need two more ingredients: a camera and some light. In the above case, a default camera and light source was created by the viewer tool. In the following example, we specify a complete scene, including a camera, two colored light sources and a sphere with a material assigned to it. Create a file “” with the following content:

    pos    = (3,2,2),
    target = (0,0,0)

    pos       = (3, -1, 2),
    diffuse   = (1, 0.7, 0.2)

    pos       = (-5, 3, 0),
    diffuse   = (0.2, 0.2, 0.5),
    intensity = 3.0

    name      = "My Sphere",
    radius    = 1.0,
    material  = GLMaterial(
                   diffuse = (0.7, 1, 0.7)

Display the scene by calling:


The result is this:


By default, you can navigate in the scene using the Alt key in combination with the three mouse buttons (if you reach a pole the camera position will jump around. This is because we are using a TargetCamera that always tries to align its local “up” direction with the global “up” direction, so this type of camera can’t be “upside down”).

If you have a RenderMan renderer installed (there are free ones available such as 3Delight, Aqsis or Pixie) you can try to visualize the above scene with a different tool:

> -r<renderer>

<renderer> has to be replaced with the renderer you are using (e.g. 3delight, aqsis, pixie, prman, etc.). This tool will display the same scene, but this time not using OpenGL but the specified renderer. The result looks similar than before but is much smoother:


So if you want to create photorealistic images you can use the viewer tool for previews and the render tool for creating the final image.

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