Interactive Image-Based Exploded View Diagrams

Wilmot Li, Maneesh Agrawala, David Salesin


Diagrams are essential for communicating the structure of complex 3D objects that are composed of many subparts, such as mechanical assemblies, architectural environments and biological organisms. To elucidate the composite structure of such objects, illustrators often create exploded views that simultaneously convey the global structure of the depicted object, the details of individual components, and the local relationships among them.

In this work, we present a system for creating interactive exploded view diagrams using 2D images as input. This image-based approach enables us to directly support arbitrary rendering styles, eliminates the need for building 3D models, and allows us to leverage the abundance of existing static diagrams of complex objects. We have developed a set of semi-automatic authoring tools for quickly creating layered diagrams that allow the user to specify how the parts of an object expand, collapse, and occlude one another. We also present a viewing system that lets users dynamically filter the information presented in the diagram by directly expanding and collapsing the exploded view and searching for individual parts. Our results demonstrate that a simple 2.5D diagram representation is powerful enough to enable a useful set of interactions and that, with the right authoring tools, effective interactive diagrams in this format can be created from existing static illustrations with a small amount of effort.

Using a static 2D exploded view diagram of a master cylinder as input (left), we construct an interactive version of the diagram using our system. These three frames show the user interactively expanding a portion of the object to examine it in more detail (right).

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Interactive Image-Based Exploded View Diagrams
Graphics Interface 2004, May 2004. pp. 203-212. Best Student Paper Award