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3D computer graphics software

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3D computer graphics


3D modeling / 3D scanning

3D rendering / 3D printing

3D computer graphics software

Primary Uses

3D models / Computer-aided design

Graphic design / Video games

Visual effects / Visualization

Virtual engineering / Virtual reality

Related concepts

CGI / Animation / 3D display

Wireframe model / Texture mapping

Computer animation / Motion capture

Skeletal animation / Crowd simulation

Global illumination / Volume rendering

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3D computer graphics software refers to programs used to create 3D computer-generated

imagery. This article only covers some of the software used.

• 1 Uses
• 2 Features
• 3 Major packages
• 4 Other packages
• 5 Renderers
• 6 Related to 3D software
• 7 See also
• 8 References
• 9 External links

[edit] Uses
3D modelers are used in a wide variety of industries. The medical industry uses them to
create detailed models of organs. The movie industry uses them to create and manipulate
characters and objects for animated and real-life motion pictures. The video game industry
uses them to create assets for video games. The science sector uses them to create highly
detailed models of chemical compounds. The architecture industry uses them to create
models of proposed buildings and landscapes. The engineering community uses them to
design new devices, vehicles and structures as well as a host of other uses. There are typically
many stages in the "pipeline" that studios and manufacturers use to create 3D objects for film,
games, and production of hard goods and structures.
[edit] Features
Many 3D modelers are general-purpose and can be used to produce models of various real-
world entities, from plants to automobiles to people. Some are specially designed to model
certain objects, such as chemical compounds or internal organs.
3D modelers allow users to create and alter models via their 3D mesh. Users can add,
subtract, stretch and otherwise change the mesh to their desire. Models can be viewed from a
variety of angles, usually simultaneously. Models can be rotated and the view can be zoomed
in and out.
3D modelers can export their models to files, which can then be imported into other
applications as long as the metadata is compatible. Many modelers allow importers and
exporters to be plugged-in, so they can read and write data in the native formats of other
Most 3D modelers contain a number of related features, such as ray tracers and other
rendering alternatives and texture mapping facilities. Some also contain features that support
or allow animation of models. Some may be able to generate full-motion video of a series of
rendered scenes (i.e. animation).
[edit] Major packages
A basic comparison including release date/version information can be found on the
Comparison of 3D computer graphics software page. A comprehensive comparison of
significant 3D packages can be found at CG Society Wiki and TDT3D 3D applications 2007
comparisons table..
• 3ds Max (Autodesk), originally called 3D Studio MAX. 3ds Max is used in many
industries that utilize 3D graphics. It is used in the video game industry for
developing models and creating cinema cut-scenes. It is used in architectural
visualizations because it is highly compatible with AutoCAD--also developed by
Autodesk. Additionally 3ds Max is used in film production, one contemporary film
being Kaena: The Prophecy[1]. With its price of around $3500 USD, it is one of the
more expensive products in the market for this type of work. 3ds Max is available for
• AC3D (Inivis) is another 3D modeling application that began in the 90's on the
Amiga platform. While it is used in a number of industries, MathWorks actively
recommends it in many of their aerospace related articles[2] due to price and
compatibility. Additionally it is the first commercial 3D modeler to integrate full
support for exporting models to the metaverse platform Second Life. AC3D is priced
in the range of $79 USD and is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. While
AC3D does not feature its own renderer, it can generate output files for both
RenderMan and POV-Ray among others.
• Aladdin4D (DiscreetFX), first developed for the Amiga, was originally developed by
Adspec Programming in Ohio. It developed an enthusiastic following and sold over
18,000 copies on the Amiga platform alone . After being acquired by visual effects
company DiscreetFX, the package has finally been repositioned as a multi-platform
product for Mac OS X, Amiga OS 4.1, MorphOS, Linux, AROS and Windows. It is
priced at $99.95 USD and is available for Windows, Linux, MorphOS, Amiga OS 4
and AROS.
• Blender (Blender Foundation) is a free, open-source, 3D studio for animation,
modeling, rendering, and texturing offering a feature set comparable to commercial
3D animation suites such as Maya, 3ds Max, or Cinema 4D. It includes features such
as multi-resolution sculpting; retopology painting. Additionally it supports 3D view
texture painting; stack based modifier system; flexible particle system with particle
based hair; cloth/soft body dynamics, rigid body dynamics and fluid simulation; node
based texturing and node based compositing; an integrated non linear video editor;
and integrated game engine. Blender is developed under the GPL and is available on
all major platforms including Windows, OS X, Linux, BSD, Sun and Irix. It is
currently the only 3D animation suite that is supported both on super computers as
well as handheld computers such as the Pocket PC (Pocket Blender).
• Carrara (DAZ Productions) is a mature, fully-featured 3D tool set package for
modeling, texturing, scene rendering and animation.
• Cinema 4D (MAXON) is a slightly lighter package than the others in its basic
configuration. The software is claimed to be artist-friendly, and is designed with the
less-technical user in mind. It has a lower initial entry cost due to a modular a-la-carte
design for purchasing additional functions as users need them. For example, a module
called MoGraph allows the user to create motion graphics titles more easily.
Originally developed for the Commodore Amiga, it is also available for Mac OS X,
Windows and Linux.
• Electric Image Animation System (EI Technology Group) is a 3D animation and
rendering package available on both Mac OS X and Windows. Mostly known for its
rendering quality and rendering speed it does not include a built-in modeler. EIAS
features the ability to handle very large polygon counts. Recently, the blockbuster
film "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"[3] and the Television hit
"Lost"[4] utilized the software.
• form•Z (AutoDesSys, Inc.) is a general purpose solid/surface 3D modeler. Its primary
usage is modeling, and it also features photo realistic rendering and object-centric
animation support. form•Z claims users involved in architecture, interior design,
illustration, product design, and set design. Its default renderer uses the LightWorks
rendering engine for raytracing and radiosity. form•Z also supports Plugins and
Scripts and has rendering support via Next Limit's Maxwell Renderer. It has
Import/Export capabilities and was first released in 1991. It is currently available for
both Mac OS X and Windows. The price for this software ranges from $1495–$1995
USD based on output quality.
• Houdini (Side Effects Software) is used for visual effects, and character animation as
well as used in Disney's The Wild[5]. Houdini uses a nonstandard interface that it
refers to as a "NODE system". Commercial licenses of Houdini include unlimited
copies of Side Effects Software's hybrid micropolygon-raytracer renderer, Mantra, but
Houdini also has built-in support for commercial renderers like Pixar's RenderMan
and mental ray. There are two versions of Houdini, Houdini Escape ($1,995 USD)
and Houdini Master ($7,995 USD). For non-commercial users, Side Effects Software
offers the free Houdini Apprentice personal learning edition, which places a small
watermark on images, and Houdini Apprentice HD, a $99 USD package that does not
watermark renders.
• Hypershot is used for photo realistic rendering of 3D models with a high resolution
background and environment allowing realtime adjustments and visual feedback. The
possibility to include high resolution backdrops has had extensive take-up by the
automotive photography industry and with the animation of the model has moved into
engineering and product design areas replacing or delaying the need for prototyping.
• Inventor (Autodesk) The Autodesk Inventor product line provides a comprehensive
and flexible set of software for 3D mechanical design, product simulation, tooling
creation, and design communication that help you cost-effectively take advantage of a
Digital Prototyping workflow to design and build better products in less time.
(Product Page)
• LightWave 3D (NewTek), first developed for the Amiga, was originally bundled as
part of the Video Toaster package and entered the market as a low cost way for TV
production companies to create quality CG for their programming. It first gained
public attention with its use in the TV series "Babylon 5"[6]. Contemporary use in TV
production can be seen with the 2004 recreated Battlestar Galactica series[7] and CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation[8]. Other well known TV series to use Lightwave are Star
Trek Enterprise, Voyager and Deep Space Nine[9]. Lightwave is also used extensively
in film production including for recent movies such as 300[10] and Iron Man[11]. It is
priced at $795 USD and is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
• MASSIVE is a 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects,
targeted for use in film and television. Originally developed for controlling the large-
scale CGI battles in the Lord of the Rings[12], Massive Software has become an
industry standard for digital crowd control in high end animation. Recently, the
software has been utilized for blockbuster feature films including Happy Feet, King
Kong, and I, Robot. It is available for various Unix and Linux platforms as well as
• Maya (Autodesk) is currently used in the film and television industry. Maya has a
high learning curve but has developed over the years into an application platform in
and of itself through extendability via its MEL programming language. A common
alternative to using the default built in rendering system named mental ray is Pixar's
Renderman. In 2005, Autodesk (makers of AutoCAD), acquired Alias--the original
creator of Maya[13]. Maya comes in two versions: Maya Complete ($1999 USD) and
Maya Unlimited ($4995 USD).
• Modo (Luxology) is a subdivision modeling, texturing and rendering tool with
support for camera motion and morphs / blendshapes. It is priced in the area of $895
USD and is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
• NX (software) ( Siemens PLM Software) is an integrated suite of software for
computer-aided mechanical design (mechanical CAM), computer-aided
manufacturing (CAM), and computer-aided engineering (CAE) formed by combining
the former Unigraphics and SDRC I-deas software product lines.[14] NX is currently
available for the following operating systems: Windows XP and Vista, Apple
Macintosh OS X,[15], and Novell SUSE Linux.[16] NX is considered to be Siemens
high-end mechanical engineering product line.[17]
• Silo (Nevercenter) is a subdivision-surface modeler available for Mac OS X and
Windows. Silo does not include a renderer and is priced at $159 USD for the
professional version and $99 USD for the core version. Silo is the bundled in modeler
for the Electric Image Animation System suite.
• SketchUp Pro (Google) is a 3D modeling package that features a sketch-based
modeling approach. It has a pro version which supports 2-D and 3-D model export
functions among other features, which is currently priced at $495 USD. It also has a
free version that is integrated with Google Earth and limits export to Google's "3D
Warehouse", where users can share their content.
• Softimage (Autodesk) is feature-similar to Maya and is sold as a competitive
alternative. It is used in the production of professional films, commercials, video
games, and other media. Softimage (formerly Softimage|XSI) is a 3D modeling and
animation package that integrates with mental ray rendering. Prior to its acquisition
by Avid and later Autodesk, Softimage, Co. originally promoted its predecessor
(under the name Softimage 3D) for use in the video game industry and secured its
promotion as part of the Nintendo N64 SDK[18].
• solidThinking (solidThinking Ltd) is a 3D solid/surface modeling and rendering
software which features a Construction Tree method of development. This is
explained as the history of the model construction process allowes real-time updates
when modifications are made to points, curves, parameters or entire objects.
solidThinking is available in four versions: MODELER, MODELER XL, DESIGN,
• Solid Edge ( Siemens PLM Software) is a commercial application for design,
drafting, analysis, and simulation of products, systems, machines and tools. All
versions include feature-based parametric modeling, assembly modeling, drafting,
sheetmetal, weldment, freeform surface design, and data management.[19] Application-
programming interfaces enable scripting in Visual Basic and C programming. The
Solid Edge Velocity series is Siemens' mid-range CAD software product family.[17]
• SolidWorks (SolidWorks Corporation) is an application used for the design, detailing
and validation of products, systems, machines and toolings. All versions include
modeling, assemblies, drawing, sheetmetal, weldment, and freeform surfacing
functionality. It also has support for scripting in Visual Basic and C. The
licenses/packages are: SolidWorks Standard, SolidWorks Professional, SolidWorks
Premium, SolidWorks Simulation, SolidWorks Student Design Kit, SolidWorks
Education Edition, and SolidWorks Student Edition.
• Swift 3D (Electric Rain) Swift 3D is a powerful, approachable, and relatively
inexpensive 3D design, modeling, and animation application targeted to entry-level
3D users and Adobe Flash designers. Swift 3D is the de-facto Mac OS X & Windows
application for vector and raster-based 3D animations for Adobe Flash and Microsoft
Silverlight XAML. Swift 3D is the only 3D software to directly integrate with Flash
through the Swift 3D File Importer and SmartLayer Technology, which separates the
exported 3D animation into different layers (Colors, Outlines, Shadows, Highlights,
Reflections and Transparency), giving designers additional creative control. Initially a
pioneer in the 3D-to-vector Flash world, Swift 3D is now accepted as a highly-
capable and versatile 3D authoring application, while maintaining its reputation as the
marquee tool for producing vector-based 3D content for Flash and Microsoft
Silverlight. It is priced at $249 USD.
• trueSpace (Caligari Corporation) is another 3D program available for Windows,
although the company Caligari first found its start on the Amiga platform. trueSpace
features modeling, animation, 3D-painting, and rendering capabilities. In 2009,
Microsoft purchased TrueSpace and now TrueSpace is available completely free of
• Vue (E-on Software) Vue is a tool for creating, animating and rendering natural 3D
environments. It was most recently used to create the background jungle
environments in the 2nd and 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean films[20].
• ZBrush (Pixologic) is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling,
texturing and painting tool available for Mac OS X and Windows. It is priced at $595
[edit] Other packages
• Amapi is a 3D package often used for high-end abstract modeling.
• Anim8or is a proprietary freeware 3D rendering and animation package.
• Animation:Master from HASH, Inc is a modeling and animation package that focuses
on ease of use. It is a spline-based modeler. Its strength lies in character animation.
• Art of Illusion is a free software package developed under the GPL.
• AutoQ3D is a GPLed cross-platform modeler.
• Ayam is a free 3D modeling environment for the RenderMan interface.
• Bryce (DAZ Productions) is most famous for landscapes and creating 'painterly'
renderings, as well as its unique user interface.
• Cybermotion 3D is a commercial 3D modeling, animation and rendering package.
• Cheetah3D is primarily aimed at amateur 3D artists with some medium- and high-end
• DAZ Studio a free 3D rendering tool set for adjusting parameters of preexisting
models, posing and rendering them in full 3D scene environments. Imports objects
created in Poser and is similar to that program, but with fewer features.
• DX Studio a complete integrated development environment for creating interactive
3D graphics. The system comprises both a real-time 3D engine and a suite of editing
tools, and is the first product to offer a complete range of tools in a single IDE.
• FaceGen is a source of human face models for other programs.
• Grome is a professional outdoor scene modeler (terrain, water, vegetation) for games
and other 3D real-time applications.
• GMax
• Hexagon (DAZ Productions) is a 3D program used for modeling organic elements.
• K-3D is a GNU modeling, animation, and rendering system available on Linux and
Win32. It makes use of RenderMan-compliant render engines. It features scene graph
procedural modelling similar to that found in Houdini.
• MakeHuman is a GPL program that generates 3D parametric humanoids.
• MeshLab is a free Windows, Linux and Mac OS X application for visualizing,
simplifying, processing and converting large three dimensional meshes to or from a
variety of 3D file formats.
• MilkShape 3D is a shareware/trialware polygon 3D modelling program with extensive
import/export capabilities.
• Mudbox Mudbox is a high resolution brush-based 3D sculpting program, that claims
to be the first of its type. The software was acquired by Autodesk in 2007.
• OpenFX is a modeling and animation studio, distributed under the GPL.
• Poser (Smith Micro) Poser is a 3D rendering and animation software program
optimized for models that depict the human figure in three-dimensional form and is
specialized for adjusting features of preexisting character models via varying
parameters. It is also for posing and rendering of models and characters. It includes
some specialized tools for walk cycle creation, cloth and hair.
• RealFlow simulates and renders particle systems of rigid bodies and fluids.
• Realsoft3D Real3D Full featured 3D modeling, animation, simulation and rendering
software available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Irix.
• Rhinoceros 3D is a commercial modeling tool which has excellent support for
freeform NURBS editing.
• Seamless3d NURBS based modelling and animation software with much of the focus
on creating avatars optimized for real time animation. It is free, open source under the
MIT license.
• Swift 3D Xpress easy-to-use plug-in for Flash and is the de-facto Mac OS X &
Windows application for vector and raster-based 3D animations for Adobe Flash.
• Wings 3D is a BSD-licensed, subdivision modeler.
[edit] Renderers
• 3Delight is a RenderMan-compliant renderer.
• Aqsis is a free rendering suite compliant with the RenderMan standard.
• Brazil is a rendering engine for 3ds Max and VIZ
• FPrime for Lightwave adds a very fast preview and can in many cases be used for
final rendering.
• Gelato is a hardware-accelerated, non-real-time renderer created by graphics card
manufacturer NVIDIA.
• Hypershot is a real-time photorealistic renderer for high resolution images.
• Hypermove is a real-time photorealistic renderer for high resolution movies.
• Hyperdrive is a realtime photorealistic system for driving an automotive model and
viewing it with virtual cameras
• Indigo Renderer is a closed source (but free for all uses) photorealistic renderer that
uses XML for scene description. Exporters available for Blender, Maya (Mti),
form•Z, Cinema4D, Rhino, 3ds Max.
• Kerkythea is a freeware rendering system that supports raytracing. Currently, it can be
integrated with 3ds Max, Blender, SketchUp, and Silo (generally any software that
can export files in obj and 3ds formats). Kerkythea is a standalone renderer, using
physically accurate materials and lighting.
• LuxRender is an unbiased open source rendering engine featuring Metropolis light
• Maxwell Render is a multi-platform renderer which forgoes raytracing, global
illumination and radiosity in favor of photon rendering with a virtual electromagnetic
spectrum, resulting in very authentic looking renders. It was the first to market.
• mental ray is another popular renderer, and comes default with most of the high-end
packages. (Now owned by NVIDIA)
• Pixar's PhotoRealistic RenderMan is the a renderer, used in many studios. Animation
packages such as 3DS Max and Maya can pipeline to RenderMan to do all the
• Pixie is an open source photorealistic renderer.
• POV-Ray (or The Persistence of Vision Raytracer) is a freeware (with source) ray
tracer written for multiple platforms.
• Sunflow is an open source, photo-realistic renderer written in Java.
• Turtle is an alternative renderer for Maya, it specializes in faster radiosity and
automatic surface baking technology which further enhances its speedy renders.
• VRay is promoted for use in the architectural visualization field used in conjunction
with 3ds max and 3ds viz. It is also commonly used with Maya.
• YafRay raytracer/renderer distributed under the LGPL license.
[edit] Related to 3D software
• Swift3D is the marquee tool for producing vector-based 3D content for Flash. Also
comes in plug-in form for transforming models in Lightwave or 3DS Max into Flash
• Match moving software is commonly used to match live video with computer-
generated video, keeping the two in sync as the camera moves.
• After producing video, studios then edit or composite the video using programs such
as Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut at the low end, or Autodesk Combustion,
Digital Fusion, Apple Shake at the high end.
• MetaCreations Detailer and Painter 3D are discontinued software applications
specifically for painting texture maps on 3-D Models.
• Quantum Hog is a free editor for 3D markup language for web (3DMLW) which
enables to show 3D models in common web browsers.
• SquidNet-NDP is a commercially available product for rendering 3D animations
within a distributed network environment.
[edit] See also
• Comparison of 3D computer graphics software
• 3D data acquisition and object reconstruction
• 3D modeling
• Computer-aided design
• Game development tool
• Game engine
• Level editor
• List of 3D graphics software
• Render farm
[edit] References
1. ^ "Raising Kaena".
84A0F848501385D6F2. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
2. ^ "About Aerospace Coordinate Systems".
sk/help/toolbox/aeroblks/f3-22568.html. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
3. ^ "Electric Image Animation Software (EIAS) v6.6.1 UB Port Is Shipping". Retrieved 2007-11-23.
4. ^ "EIAS Production List".
Retrieved 2007-11-23.
5. ^ "C.O.R.E. Goes to The Wild".
name=press&rop=showcontent&id=385. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
6. ^ "Desktop Hollywood F/X". Retrieved 2007-
7. ^ "So Say We All: The Visual Effects of "Battlestar Galactica"". Retrieved 2007-11-23.
8. ^ "CSI: Dallas".
6B9BEA350A47CDFBE0. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
9. ^ "Lightwave projects list". Retrieved 2009-
10.^ "Epic effects for 300".
featureid=1590. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
11.^ "Lightwave used on Iron Man". 2008-08-08.
Retrieved 2009-07-07.
12.^ "Lord of the Rings terror: It was just a software bug".
10784_3-9809929-7.html. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
13.^ "Graphics Heavyweights Merge".
Retrieved 2007-11-23.
14.^ Cohn, David (2004-09-16). "NX 3 – The Culmination of a 3-year Migration".
CADCAMNet (Cyon Research).
T=open_article,847643&P=article. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
15.^ "Siemens PLM Software Announces Availability of NX for Mac OS X". Siemens PLM
Software. 2009-06-11.
Component=82370&ComponentTemplate=822. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
16.^ "UGS Ships NX 4 and Delivers Industry’s First Complete Digital Product Development
Solution on Linux". 2009-04-04.
Component=25399&ComponentTemplate=822. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
17.^ a b "A Fresh Look at the Value Proposition of High-end Mechanical CAD". Cyon Research
Corporation. 2007-07-13. pp. 4.
%2bQ%2fd%2bH5o%3d&tabid=84&mid=485. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
18.^ "Softimage and Nintendo Team to Help Developers Create Hit Video Games". Retrieved 2007-11-23.
19.^ "Solid Edge". Siements PLM Software. 2009.
Retrieved 2009-07-01.
20.^ "Vue Helps ILM Create Environments for 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest'
VFX". Retrieved 2007-11-23.

[edit] External links

• Comparison of 3D Tools from the Society of Digital Artists
• Another comparison of 3D tools from
3D computer graphics software

Open Art of Illusion · Blender · Geist3D · K-3D · MeshLab · Misfit Model 3d ·

source OpenFX · Seamless3d · Wings 3D

Autodesk 3ds Max · Autodesk Maya · Autodesk Softimage · Bryce ·

Proprietary Cinema 4D · E-on Vue · LightWave 3D · MASSIVE · Messiah · modo ·
Strata 3D · Swift 3D

Defunct Dynamation · Softimage 3D

Retrieved from ""
Categories: 3D graphics software | 3D computer graphics
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Computer graphics
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is about graphics created using computers. For the article
about the scientific study of computer graphics, see Computer graphics
(computer science). For other uses, see Computer graphics
A Blender 2.45 screenshot.

A 2D projection of a 3D projection of a 4D Pentachoron performing a double

rotation about two orthogonal planes.

Computer graphics are graphics created using computers and, more generally, the
representation and manipulation of pictorial data by a computer.
The development of computer graphics has made computers easier to interact with and better
for understanding and interpreting many types of data. Developments in computer graphics
have had a profound impact on many types of media and have revolutionized the animation
and video game industry.

• 1 Overview
• 2 History
• 3 Image types
○ 3.1 2D computer graphics
 3.1.1 Pixel art
 3.1.2 Vector graphics
○ 3.2 3D computer graphics
○ 3.3 Computer animation
• 4 Concepts and Principles
○ 4.1 Image
○ 4.2 Pixel
○ 4.3 Graphics
○ 4.4 Rendering
○ 4.5 Volume rendering
○ 4.6 3D modeling
• 5 Pioneers in graphic design
• 6 The study of computer graphics
○ 6.1 Connected studies
• 7 Applications
• 8 References
• 9 Further reading
• 10 External links

[edit] Overview
The term computer graphics includes almost everything on computers that is not text or
sound. Today nearly all computers use some graphics and users expect to control their
computer through icons and pictures rather than just by typing.[1] The term Computer
Graphics has several meanings:
• the representation and manipulation of pictorial data by a computer
• the various technologies used to create and manipulate such pictorial data
• the images so produced, and
• the sub-field of computer science which studies methods for digitally
synthesizing and manipulating visual content, see study of computer
Today computers and computer-generated images touch many aspects of our daily life.
Computer imagery is found on television, in newspapers, in weather reports, and during
surgical procedures. A well-constructed graph can present complex statistics in a form that is
easier to understand and interpret. Such graphs are used to illustrate papers, reports, theses,
and other presentation material. A range of tools and facilities are available to enable users to
visualize their data, and computer graphics are used in many disciplines. [2]
[edit] History
The phrase “Computer Graphics” was coined in 1960 by William Fetter, a graphic designer
for Boeing.[3] The field of computer graphics developed with the emergence of computer
graphics hardware. Early projects like the Whirlwind and SAGE Projects introduced the CRT
as a viable display and interaction interface and introduced the light pen as an input device.
SAGE Sector Control Room.

Further advances in computing led to greater advancements in interactive computer graphics.

In 1959, the TX-2 computer was developed at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. The TX-2
integrated a number of new man-machine interfaces. A light pen could be used to draw
sketches on the computer using Ivan Sutherland's revolutionary Sketchpad software. The
development of Sketchpad made Ivan Sutherland the "grandfather" of interactive computer
graphics and graphical user interfaces.[3]
The research at MIT would help shape the early computer and computer graphics industries.
Major corporations soon became interested in the technology. IBM quickly responded by
releasing the IBM 2250 graphics terminal, the first commercially available graphics
computer.[4] Several computer graphics companies were founded in the mid 1960s including
TRW, Lockheed-Georgia, General Electric and Sperry Rand.
In 1969, the ACM initiated A Special Interest Group in Graphics (SIGGRAPH) which
organizes conferences, graphics standards, and publications within the field of computer
graphics. In 1973, the first annual SIGGRAPH conference was held, which has become one
of the focuses of the organization. SIGGRAPH has grown in size and importance as the field
of computer graphics has expanded over time. Many of the most important early
breakthroughs in computer graphics research occurred at the University of Utah in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, artists and graphic designers began to see the personal computer, particularly
the Commodore Amiga and Macintosh, as a serious design tool, one that could save time and
draw more accurately than other methods. In the late 1980s, SGI computers were used to
create some of the first fully computer-generated short films at Pixar. The Macintosh remains
a highly popular tool for computer graphics among graphic design studios and businesses.
Modern computers, dating from the 1980s often use graphical user interfaces (GUI) to
present data and information with symbols, icons and pictures, rather than text. Graphics are
one of the five key elements of multimedia technology.
3D graphics became more popular in the 1990s in gaming, multimedia and animation. In
1996, Quake, one of the first fully 3D games, was released. In 1995, Toy Story, the first full-
length computer-generated animation film, was released in cinemas worldwide. Since then,
computer graphics have only become more detailed and realistic, due to more powerful
graphics hardware and 3D modeling software.
[edit] Image types
[edit] 2D computer graphics

Raster graphic sprites (left) and masks (right)

2D computer graphics are the computer-based generation of digital images—mostly from

two-dimensional models, such as 2D geometric models, text, and digital images, and by
techniques specific to them. The word may stand for the branch of computer science that
comprises such techniques, or for the models themselves.
2D computer graphics are mainly used in applications that were originally developed upon
traditional printing and drawing technologies, such as typography, cartography, technical
drawing, advertising, etc.. In those applications, the two-dimensional image is not just a
representation of a real-world object, but an independent artifact with added semantic value;
two-dimensional models are therefore preferred, because they give more direct control of the
image than 3D computer graphics, whose approach is more akin to photography than to
[edit] Pixel art
Pixel art is a form of digital art, created through the use of raster graphics software, where
images are edited on the pixel level. Graphics in most old (or relatively limited) computer and
video games, graphing calculator games, and many mobile phone games are mostly pixel art.
[edit] Vector graphics

Example showing effect of vector graphics versus raster graphics.

Vector graphics formats are complementary to raster graphics, which is the representation of
images as an array of pixels, as it is typically used for the representation of photographic
images.[5] There are instances when working with vector tools and formats is best practice,
and instances when working with raster tools and formats is best practice. There are times
when both formats come together. An understanding of the advantages and limitations of
each technology and the relationship between them is most likely to result in efficient and
effective use of tools.
[edit] 3D computer graphics
3D computer graphics in contrast to 2D computer graphics are graphics that use a three-
dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes
of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be for later display or
for real-time viewing.
Despite these differences, 3D computer graphics rely on many of the same algorithms as 2D
computer vector graphics in the wire frame model and 2D computer raster graphics in the
final rendered display. In computer graphics software, the distinction between 2D and 3D is
occasionally blurred; 2D applications may use 3D techniques to achieve effects such as
lighting, and primarily 3D may use 2D rendering techniques.
3D computer graphics are often referred to as 3D models. Apart from the rendered graphic,
the model is contained within the graphical data file. However, there are differences. A 3D
model is the mathematical representation of any three-dimensional object (either inanimate or
living). A model is not technically a graphic until it is visually displayed. Due to 3D printing,
3D models are not confined to virtual space. A model can be displayed visually as a two-
dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering, or used in non-graphical computer
simulations and calculations.
[edit] Computer animation

An example of Computer animation produced using Motion capture

Computer animation is the art of creating moving images via the use of computers. It is a
subfield of computer graphics and animation. Increasingly it is created by means of 3D
computer graphics, though 2D computer graphics are still widely used for stylistic, low
bandwidth, and faster real-time rendering needs. Sometimes the target of the animation is the
computer itself, but sometimes the target is another medium, such as film. It is also referred
to as CGI (Computer-generated imagery or computer-generated imaging), especially when
used in films.
Virtual entities may contain and be controlled by assorted attributes, such as transform values
(location, orientation, scale; see Cartesian coordinate system) stored in an object's
transformation matrix. Animation is the change of an attribute over time. Multiple methods of
achieving animation exist; the rudimentary form is based on the creation and editing of
keyframes, each storing a value at a given time, per attribute to be animated. The 2D/3D
graphics software will interpolate between keyframes, creating an editable curve of a value
mapped over time, resulting in animation. Other methods of animation include procedural
and expression-based techniques: the former consolidates related elements of animated
entities into sets of attributes, useful for creating particle effects and crowd simulations; the
latter allows an evaluated result returned from a user-defined logical expression, coupled with
mathematics, to automate animation in a predictable way (convenient for controlling bone
behavior beyond what a hierarchy offers in skeletal system set up).
To create the illusion of movement, an image is displayed on the computer screen then
quickly replaced by a new image that is similar to the previous image, but shifted slightly.
This technique is identical to the illusion of movement in television and motion pictures.
[edit] Concepts and Principles
[edit] Image
In common usage, an image or picture is an artifact, usually two-dimensional, that has a
similar appearance to some subject—usually a physical object or a person. Images may be
two-dimensional, such as a photograph, screen display, and as well as a three-dimensional,
such as a statue. They may be captured by optical devices—such as cameras, mirrors, lenses,
telescopes, microscopes, etc. and natural objects and phenomena, such as the human eye or
water surfaces.
A digital image is a representation of a two-dimensional image using ones and zeros (binary).
Depending on whether or not the image resolution is fixed, it may be of vector or raster type.
Without qualifications, the term "digital image" usually refers to raster images.
[edit] Pixel

In the enlarged portion of the image individual pixels are rendered as squares
and can be easily seen.

In digital imaging, a pixel is the smallest piece of information in an image.[6] Pixels are
normally arranged in a regular 2-dimensional grid, and are often represented using dots or
squares. Each pixel is a sample of an original image, where more samples typically provide a
more accurate representation of the original. The intensity of each pixel is variable; in color
systems, each pixel has typically three or four components such as red, green, and blue, or
cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
[edit] Graphics
Graphics are visual presentations on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, computer screen,
paper, or stone to brand, inform, illustrate, or entertain. Examples are photographs, drawings,
line art, graphs, diagrams, typography, numbers, symbols, geometric designs, maps,
engineering drawings, or other images. Graphics often combine text, illustration, and color.
Graphic design may consist of the deliberate selection, creation, or arrangement of
typography alone, as in a brochure, flier, poster, web site, or book without any other element.
Clarity or effective communication may be the objective, association with other cultural
elements may be sought, or merely, the creation of a distinctive style.
[edit] Rendering
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.
3D projection

3D projection is a method of mapping three dimensional points to a two

dimensional plane. As most current methods for displaying graphical data
are based on planar two dimensional media, the use of this type of
projection is widespread, especially in computer graphics, engineering and

Ray tracing

Ray tracing is a technique for generating an image by tracing the path of

light through pixels in an image plane. The technique is capable of
producing a very high degree of photorealism; usually higher than that of
typical scanline rendering methods, but at a greater computational cost.


Example of shading.

Shading refers to depicting depth in 3D models or illustrations by varying

levels of darkness. It is a process used in drawing for depicting levels of
darkness on paper by applying media more densely or with a darker shade
for darker areas, and less densely or with a lighter shade for lighter areas.
There are various techniques of shading including cross hatching where
perpendicular lines of varying closeness are drawn in a grid pattern to
shade an area. The closer the lines are together, the darker the area
appears. Likewise, the farther apart the lines are, the lighter the area
appears. The term has been recently generalized to mean that shaders
are applied.
Texture mapping

Texture mapping is a method for adding detail, surface texture, or colour

to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. Its application to 3D
graphics was pioneered by Dr Edwin Catmull in 1974. A texture map is
applied (mapped) to the surface of a shape, or polygon. This process is
akin to applying patterned paper to a plain white box. Multitexturing is the
use of more than one texture at a time on a polygon.[7] Procedural textures
(created from adjusting parameters of an underlying algorithm that
produces an output texture), and bitmap textures (created in an image
editing application) are, generally speaking, common methods of
implementing texture definition from a 3D animation program, while
intended placement of textures onto a model's surface often requires a
technique known as UV mapping.

[edit] Volume rendering

Volume rendered CT scan of a forearm with different colour schemes for muscle,
fat, bone, and blood.

Volume rendering is a technique used to display a 2D projection of a 3D discretely sampled

data set. A typical 3D data set is a group of 2D slice images acquired by a CT or MRI
Usually these are acquired in a regular pattern (e.g., one slice every millimeter) and usually
have a regular number of image pixels in a regular pattern. This is an example of a regular
volumetric grid, with each volume element, or voxel represented by a single value that is
obtained by sampling the immediate area surrounding the voxel.
[edit] 3D modeling
3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical, wireframe representation of any
three-dimensional object, called a "3D model", via specialized software. Models may be
created automatically or manually; the manual modeling process of preparing geometric data
for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as sculpting. 3D models may be
created using multiple approaches: use of NURBS curves to generate accurate and smooth
surface patches, polygonal mesh modeling (manipulation of faceted geometry), or polygonal
mesh subdivision (advanced tessellation of polygons, resulting in smooth surfaces similar to
NURBS models). A 3D model can be displayed as a two-dimensional image through a
process called 3D rendering, used in a computer simulation of physical phenomena, or
animated directly for other purposes. The model can also be physically created using 3D
Printing devices.
[edit] Pioneers in graphic design
Charles Csuri

Charles Csuri is a pioneer in computer animation and digital fine art and
created the first computer art in 1964. Csuri was recognized by
Smithsonian as the father of digital art and computer animation, and as a
pioneer of computer animation by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and

Donald P. Greenberg

Donald P. Greenberg is a leading innovator in computer graphics.

Greenberg has authored hundreds of articles and served as a teacher and
mentor to many prominent computer graphic artists, animators, and
researchers such as Robert L. Cook, Marc Levoy, and Wayne Lytle. Many of
his former students have won Academy Awards for technical
achievements and several have won the SIGGRAPH Achievement Award.
Greenberg was the founding director of the NSF Center for Computer
Graphics and Scientific Visualization.

A. Michael Noll

Noll was one of the first researchers to use a digital computer to create
artistic patterns and to formalize the use of random processes in the
creation of visual arts. He began creating digital computer art in 1962,
making him one of the earliest digital computer artists. In 1965, Noll along
with Frieder Nake and Georg Nees were the first to publicly exhibit their
computer art. During April 1965, the Howard Wise Gallery exhibited Noll's
computer art along with random-dot patterns by Bela Julesz.

Other pioneers

• Benoît B. Mandelbrot
• Henri Gouraud
• Bui Tuong Phong
• Pierre Bézier
• Paul de Casteljau
• Daniel J. Sandin
• Alvy Ray Smith
• Ivan Sutherland
• Steve Russell

[edit] The study of computer graphics

A modern render of the Utah teapot, an iconic model in 3D computer graphics
created by Martin Newell, 1975.

The study of computer graphics is a sub-field of computer science which studies methods for
digitally synthesizing and manipulating visual content. Although the term often refers to
three-dimensional computer graphics, it also encompasses two-dimensional graphics and
image processing.
As an academic discipline, computer graphics studies the manipulation of visual and
geometric information using computational techniques. It focuses on the mathematical and
computational foundations of image generation and processing rather than purely aesthetic
issues. Computer graphics is often differentiated from the field of visualization, although the
two fields have many similarities.
[edit] Connected studies
Connected studies include:
• Scientific visualization
• Information visualization
• Computer vision
• Image processing
• Computational Geometry
• Computational Topology
• Applied mathematics

[edit] Applications
graphics portal

Computer Science

• Computational biology
• Computational physics
• Computer-aided design
• Computer simulation
• Digital art
• Education
• Graphic design
• Infographics
• Information visualization
• Rational drug design
• Scientific visualization
• Video Games
• Virtual reality
• Web design

[edit] References
1. ^ What is Computer Graphics?, Cornell University Program of Computer
Graphics. Last updated 04/15/98.
2. ^ ISS (2002). "What are computer graphics?". Last updated: 22 Sep 2008
3. ^ a b Wayne Carlson (2003) A Critical History of Computer Graphics and
Animation. The Ohio State University
5. ^ Ira Greenberg (2007). Processing: Creative Coding and Computational
Art. Apress. ISBN 159059617X.
6. ^ Rudolf F. Graf (1999). Modern Dictionary of Electronics. Oxford: Newnes.
pp. 569. ISBN 0-7506-4331-5.
7. ^ Blythe, David. Advanced Graphics Programming Techniques Using
OpenGL. Siggraph 1999. (see: Multitexture)

[edit] Further reading

• James D. Foley, Andries Van Dam, Steven K. Feiner and John F. Hughes
(1995). Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice. Addison-Wesley
• Donald Hearn and M. Pauline Baker (1994). Computer Graphics. Prentice-
• Francis S. Hill (2001). Computer Graphics. Prentice Hall.
• John Lewell (1985). Computer Graphics: A Survey of Current Techniques
and Applications. Van Nostrand Reinhold.
• Jeffrey J. McConnell (2006). Computer Graphics: Theory Into Practice. Jones
& Bartlett Publishers.
• R. D. Parslow, R. W. Prowse, Richard Elliot Green (1969). Computer
Graphics: Techniques and Applications.
• Peter Shirley and others. (2005). Fundamentals of computer graphics. A.K.
Peters, Ltd.
• M. Slater, A. Steed, Y. Chrysantho (2002). Computer graphics and virtual
environments: from realism to real-time. Addison-Wesley
[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Computer graphics

Look up computer graphics in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

• A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation

• History of Computer Graphics series of articles
• 2D effects using particle systems
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