Portal:Computer graphics

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Computer graphics

A 3D projection of a 4D Pentachoron performing a simple rotation.

Computer graphics includes almost everything on computers that is not text or sound but is normally considered as different from photography. Today almost every computer can do some graphics, and people have come to expect that they will interface with their computer through icons and pictures rather than solely by typing. The term computer graphics has additional meanings:

Today much of our life is affected by computers, and by computer graphics. Whether you see them on television, in newspapers, in weather reports or while at the doctor's surgery, computer images are all around you. A well-chosen graph is able to transform a complex table of numbers into meaningful results. Such graphs are used to illustrate papers, reports, and theses, as well as providing the basis for presentation material in the form of slides and overhead transparencies. A range of tools and facilities are available to enable users to visualise their data, and computer graphics are used in many disciplines.

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An image created using POV-Ray 3.6

Rendering is the process of generating an image from a model, by means of computer programs. The model is a description of three dimensional objects in a strictly defined language or data structure. It would contain geometry, viewpoint, texture, lighting, and shading information. The image is a digital image or raster graphics image. The term may be by analogy with an "artist's rendering" of a scene. 'Rendering' is also used to describe the process of calculating effects in a video editing file to produce final video output.

It is one of the major sub-topics of 3D computer graphics, and in practice always connected to the others. In the graphics pipeline, it is the last major step, giving the final appearance to the models and animation. With the increasing sophistication of computer graphics since the 1970s onward, it has become a more distinct subject.

Rendering has uses in architecture, video games, simulators, movie or TV special effects, and design visualization, each employing a different balance of features and techniques. As a product, a wide variety of renderers are available. Some are integrated into larger modeling and animation packages, some are stand-alone, some are free open-source projects. On the inside, a renderer is a carefully engineered program, based on a selective mixture of disciplines related to: light physics, visual perception, mathematics, and software development.

In the case of 3D graphics, rendering may be done slowly, as in pre-rendering, or in real time. Pre-rendering is a computationally intensive process that is typically used for movie creation, while real-time rendering is often done for 3D video games which rely on the use of graphics cards with 3D hardware accelerators. Find out more...

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M1 Abrams-TUSK.svg

Scalable vector graphic (SVG) illustration of a tank

Image credit: Doug Hatfield (Dhatfield)

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