Computer graphics (CG) is the field of visual computing, where one utilizes
computers both to generate visual images synthetically and to integrate or alter
visual and spatial information sampled from the real world. The first major advance in computer graphics was the development of Sketchpad
in 1962 by Ivan Sutherland.
It is often thought that the first feature film to use computer graphics was
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which attempted to show how computers would be
much more graphical in the future. However, all the "computer graphic"
effects in that film were hand-drawn animation, and the special effects
sequences were produced entirely with conventional optical and model effects.
Perhaps the first use of computer graphics specifically to illustrate
computer graphics was in Futureworld (1976), which included an animation of a
human face and hand--produced by Ed Catmull and Fred Parke at the University of
The first advance in computer graphics was in the use of CRTs. There are two
approaches to 2D computer graphics: vector and raster graphics. Vector graphics
stores precise geometric data, topology and style such as: coordinate positions
of points, the connections between points (to form lines or paths), and the
color, thickness, and possible fill of the shapes. Most vector graphic systems
can also use primitives of standard shapes such as circles, rectangles, etc. In
most cases, a vector graphic image has to be converted to a raster image to be
viewed. Raster graphics is a uniform 2-dimensional grid of pixels. Each pixel
has a specific value such as, for instance, brightness, color, transparency, or
a combination of such values. A raster image has a finite resolution of a
specific number of rows and columns. Standard computer displays shows a raster
image of resolutions such as 1280(columns)x1024(rows) of pixels. Today, one
often combines raster and vector graphics in compound file formats (pdf, swf).
With the birth of workstation computers (like LISP machines, paintbox
computers and Silicon Graphics workstations) came 3D computer graphics, based on
vector graphics. Instead of the computer storing information about points,
lines, and curves on a 2-dimensional plane, the computer stores the location of
points, lines, and, typically, faces (to construct a polygon) in 3-dimensional
space. 3-dimensional polygons are the lifeblood of virtually all 3D computer
graphics. As a result, most 3D graphics engines are based around storing points
(single 3-dimensional coordinates), lines that connect those points together,
faces defined by the lines, and then a sequence of faces to create 3D polygons.
Modern-day computer graphics software goes far beyond just the simple storage of
polygons in computer memory. Today's graphics are not only the product of
massive collections of polygons into recognizable shapes, but they also result
from techniques in shading, texturing, and rasterization.
Computer graphics is all about obtaining 2D images from 3D models. In order
to get highly accurate and photo-realistic images, the input 3D models should be
very accurate in terms of geometry and colors. Simulating the real 3D world
scene using Computer Graphics is difficult, because obtaining accurate 3D
geometry of the world is difficult. Instead of obtaining 3D models, image-based
rendering (IBR) uses the images taken from particular view points and tries to
obtain new images from other view points. Though the term "image-based
rendering" was coined recently, it has been in practice since the inception
of research in computer vision. In 1996, two image-based rendering techniques
were presented in SIGGRAPH: light field rendering and Lumigraph rendering. These
techniques received special attention in the research community. Since then,
many representations for IBR were proposed. One popular method is view-dependent
texture mapping, an IBR technique from University of Southern California. Andrew
Zisserman, et. al from Oxford University used machine learning concepts for IBR.
- Flat shading: A technique that shades each polygon of an object based on
the polygon's "normal" and the position and intensity of a light
- Gouraud shading: Invented by Henri Gouraud in 1971, a fast and
resource-conscious technique used to simulate smoothly shaded surfaces by
interpolating vertex colors across a polygon's surface.
- Texture mapping: A technique for simulating surface detail by mapping
images (textures) onto polygons.
- Phong shading: Invented by Bui Tuong Phong, a smooth shading technique
that approximates curved-surface lighting by interpolating the vertex
normals of a polygon across the surface; the lighting model includes glossy
reflection with a controllable level of gloss.
- Bump mapping: Invented by Jim Blinn, a normal-perturbation technique used
to simulate bumpy or wrinkled surfaces.
- Normal mapping: Related to bump mapping, a more in-depth way of simulating
bumps, wrinkles, or other intricate details into low-polygon models.
- Ray tracing: A method based on the physical principles of geometric optics
that can simulate multiple reflections and transparency.
- Radiosity: a technique for global illumination that uses radiative
transfer theory to simulate indirect (reflected) illumination in scenes with
Blobs: a technique for representing surfaces without specifying a hard
boundary representation, usually implemented as a procedural surface like a
Van der Waals equipotential (in chemistry). [source: Wikipedia]
Links to Computer Graphics
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links on Graphics