Hairy Slices: Evaluating the Perceptual Effectiveness of Cutting Plane Glyphs for 3D Vector Fields

TitleHairy Slices: Evaluating the Perceptual Effectiveness of Cutting Plane Glyphs for 3D Vector Fields
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsStevens, AH, Butkiewicz, T, Ware, C
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
PublisherIEEE Computer Society

Three-dimensional vector fields are common datasets throughout the sciences. Visualizing these fields is inherently difficult, due to issues such as visual clutter and self-occlusion. Cutting planes are often used to overcome these issues by presenting more manageable slices of data. The existing literature provides many techniques for visualizing the flow through these cutting planes, however there is a lack of empirical studies focused on the underlying perceptual cues that make popular techniques successful. This paper presents a quantitative human factors study that evaluates static monoscopic depth and orientation cues in the context of cutting plane glyph designs for exploring and analyzing 3D flow fields. The goal of the study was to ascertain the relative effectiveness of various techniques for portraying the direction of flow through a cutting plane at a given point, and to identify the visual cues and combinations of cues involved, and how they contribute to accurate performance. It was found that increasing the dimensionality of line-based glyphs into tubular structures enhances their ability to convey orientation through shading, and that increasing their diameter intensifies this effect. These tube-based glyphs were also less sensitive to visual clutter issues at higher densities. Adding shadows to lines was also found to increase perception of flow direction. Implications of the experimental results are discussed and extrapolated into a number of guidelines for designing more perceptually effective glyphs for 3D vector field visualizations.

Refereed DesignationRefereed