Marching Cubes

In this algorithm the user first specifies a threshold value. For this value, some voxels will be entirely inside or outside the corresponding isosurface and some voxels will be intersected by the isosurface. In the first pass of the algorithm the voxels that are intersected by the threshold value are identified. In the second pass these voxels are examined and a set of one or more polygons is produced, which are then output for rendering. Each of the voxel's 8 vertices can be either inside or outside of the isosurface value, thus, there are 2^8 = 256 possible ways in which a surface can intersect the voxel. By symmetry these 256 ways can be reduced to 15. The exact edge intersection points are determined and the polygons are created. Use a Table Lookup to Reduce Edge Intersection Tests

Basic Idea

Edge Intersection Table

256 Cases Reduce to 15

Marching Cubes Algorithm

  1. User Specifies Threshold Value
  2. Read Four Slices Into Memory
  3. Scan Middle Two Slices and Create a Cell
  4. Classify Eight Vertices. Construct Index Number.
  5. Use Index to Look Up List of Edges
  6. Find 3 Surf/Edge Intersections via Linear Interpolation
  7. Calculate Unit Normal (Gradient) at 3 Intersections
  8. Output the Triangle Vertices and Vertex Normals

Marching Cubes Example

Purkinje cell (Martone & Hessler)


Main Surface Fitting Algorithm Page
HyperVis Table of Contents

Last modified on February 16, 1999, G. Scott Owen, owen@siggraph.org