A voxel, short for "volume pixel," is a fundamental unit of three-dimensional space in computer graphics and imaging. It can be thought of as the 3D equivalent of a pixel, which represents a single point in a 2D image. In contrast, a voxel represents a point in a 3D volume or grid, typically in a regular grid structure.
Voxels are widely used in 3D modelling and games due to their ability to represent and manipulate volumetric data. In 3D modelling, voxels can be used to construct complex objects and environments by placing and manipulating individual voxel units. Each voxel can store various attributes such as color, transparency, and material properties, enabling the creation of detailed and realistic scenes.
Voxel-based modelling techniques offer several advantages. First, they provide a straightforward representation of solid objects, as voxels directly encode the occupancy of space. This makes them suitable for applications such as medical imaging, where the interior of the human body needs to be accurately represented. Additionally, voxel-based models support easy modification and deformation, as individual voxels can be added, removed, or transformed independently.
In the realm of games, voxels are utilized for a variety of purposes. Voxel-based rendering techniques can produce visually appealing graphics, particularly for games with blocky or pixelated aesthetics. Voxel engines often provide procedural generation capabilities, enabling the creation of expansive and dynamic game worlds. Voxels are also employed for physics simulations, as they allow for precise collision detection and interaction between objects.
Moreover, voxel data structures are used in level design and terrain generation. By representing terrain as a voxel grid, game developers can generate realistic landscapes with varying elevation, vegetation, and geological features. This approach offers flexibility in modifying the terrain at runtime, allowing for dynamic environments that can be altered by player actions or procedural algorithms.