Portal:Computer graphics

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Introduction

A Blender 2.45 screenshot, displaying the 3D test model Suzanne.

Computer graphics are pictures and films created using computers. Usually, the term refers to computer-generated image data created with help of specialized graphical hardware and software. It is a vast and recently developed area of computer science. The phrase was coined in 1960, by computer graphics researchers Verne Hudson and William Fetter of Boeing. It is often abbreviated as CG, though sometimes erroneously referred to as computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Some topics in computer graphics include user interface design, sprite graphics, vector graphics, 3D modeling, shaders, GPU design, implicit surface visualization with ray tracing, and computer vision, among others. The overall methodology depends heavily on the underlying sciences of geometry, optics, and physics.

Computer graphics is responsible for displaying art and image data effectively and meaningfully to the consumer. It is also used for processing image data received from the physical world. Computer graphics development has had a significant impact on many types of media and has revolutionized animation, movies, advertising, video games, and graphic design in general.

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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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CGKilogram.jpg

The definition of the SI unit of a kilogram: a platinum-iridium cylinder
Image credit: Greg L

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