Fakultät Informatik

Realistic Simulation of Rivers

by  Fabian Pache &  Darko Zikic, September 2003

The task of our SEP (German short for "System Development Project") was to develop and implement a realistic simulation of rivers on arbitrary terrains. We use a particle system approach with a simple underlying physical model. This doesn't guarantee physical correctness but is still "good looking" and comparably fast.


  • The main parts of the simulation are: Collision Detection: Finding the particles that influence each other
  • Physical Model / Colision Treatment: The way particles influence each other
  • Terrain Collision: The way the interaction between the terrain and the particles is detected and treated


We use a rather simple but fast technique for visualizing the results. Instead of finding the skin of the particles by solving an implicit function or raytracing we use a heightfield over the drops. It is just a triangle-mesh pushed up by the particles. This method certainly has its backdraws but it is fast and very suitable for simulating rivers.
Besides we provide BMP and PovRay file exports so that movies of the simulation can easily be made.

 Pics'n'Moviez Gallery

Fabian Pache & Darko Zikic, September 2003, Munich