thanks for your suggestions. i know that often one doesnt need the newest books to learn fundamental knowledge, but 20years seems a little bit old. especially for computer graphics.
this books is suggested quite often and gabe newell says its worth it, so i guess its a save buy. but can you tell me if it covers solutions for lesser complex problems, as well?
yes. my thinking was that building a renderer without illumination (meaning everything just is illuminated), shading and physics could be a simple enough, yet challenging first project. my question here is if my approach makes sense. maybe i'm going too far back. if new renderers are rarely written from scratch, then maybe i should start on learning how illumination works, instead of how to draw cubes.
Yes, it is the basic element, but it is not really basic. Rendering engines are the most scientific part of a game engine and far from easy or basic. A enthralling topic is always global illumination. You should consider to take an existing rendering engine (open source like ogre) and expand it with a special technique, but I would sugguest to learn about the choosen technique, software, tools before diving head on into your thesis (the impact could be quite heavy).
as my very first contact with opengl i think i will work through these: http://www.opengl-tutorial.org/