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A clustering based transfer function for volume rendering using gray-gradient mode histogram

Lan, Yisha; Ding, Yimin; Luo, Xin; Zhang, Yanzhao; Huang, Chenxi; Ng, E. Y.K.; Huang, Weihong; Zhou, Xuezhong; Su, Jie; Peng, Yonghong; Wang, Zhicheng; Cheng, Yongqiang; Che, Wenliang


Yisha Lan

Yimin Ding

Xin Luo

Yanzhao Zhang

Chenxi Huang

E. Y.K. Ng

Weihong Huang

Xuezhong Zhou

Jie Su

Yonghong Peng

Zhicheng Wang

Yongqiang Cheng

Wenliang Che


Volume rendering is an emerging technique widely used in the medical field to visualize human organs using tomography image slices. In volume rendering, sliced medical images are transformed into attributes, such as color and opacity through transfer function. Thus, the design of the transfer function directly affects the result of medical images visualization. A well-designed transfer function can improve both the image quality and visualization speed. In one of our previous paper, we designed a multi-dimensional transfer function based on region growth to determine the transparency of a voxel, where both gray threshold and gray change threshold are used to calculate the transparency. In this paper, a new approach of the transfer function is proposed based on clustering analysis of gray-gradient mode histogram, where volume data is represented in a two-dimensional histogram. Clustering analysis is carried out based on the spatial information of volume data in the histogram, and the transfer function is automatically generated by means of clustering analysis of the spatial information. The dataset of human thoracic is used in our experiment to evaluate the performance of volume rendering using the proposed transfer function. By comparing with the original transfer function implemented in two popularly used volume rendering systems, visualization toolkit (VTK) and RadiAnt DICOM Viewer, the effectiveness and performance of the proposed transfer function are demonstrated in terms of the rendering efficiency and image quality, where more accurate and clearer features are presented rather than a blur red area. Furthermore, the complex operations on the two-dimensional histogram are avoided in our proposed approach and more detailed information can be seen from our final visualized image.


Lan, Y., Ding, Y., Luo, X., Zhang, Y., Huang, C., Ng, E. Y., …Che, W. (2019). A clustering based transfer function for volume rendering using gray-gradient mode histogram. IEEE Access, 7, 80737-80747.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2019
Publication Date Jun 14, 2019
Deposit Date Aug 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 9, 2019
Journal IEEE Access
Electronic ISSN 2169-3536
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Pages 80737-80747
Keywords Gray-gradient mode histogram; Clustering analysis; Transfer function; Volume rendering
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. For more information, see


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