Ambient Occlusion is one of those terms that graphics geeks like to throw around, partially because it’s a big word, but also partially because it’s so damned pretty. The video below was from a basic Ambient Occlusion tracer I wrote to pre-compute lighting values per vertex. The better extension to this would be to shoot rays from actual pixels on a texture map (the only restriction is that the texture must have a one to one mapping to triangles, or new UV coordinates must be generated). Ambient Occlusion is by far one of my favorite effects because, though it’s supposed to be an approximation of global illumination, it also has its own almost cartoony or soft look. I must apologize for the video was recorded using some particularly bad screen cap software.