The use and relevance of computer graphics over the years have progressed in many fields. Whether you are an architect, a web designer, or a fashion student, computer graphics make your work more efficient, quick, and convenient.
Defining Computer Graphics
Computer graphics is the technology that helps in creating images on a computer screen. Computer graphics are the visual representations of textual data that are displayed on the monitor of a computer. Before computer graphics, one had to draw or sketch on paper and altering that image would involve a lot of hassles and sometimes would just not be possible. Ever since computer graphics came into existence, gone are the days where you had to rip up sheets after sheets of sketches that didn’t look too well. Artists today can simply draw pictures on their computer screens and store it as digital information. At the click of a button, you can change the colours, swap the image, rotate it, change the size, and do a lot more. Since the information is digital, it is easier to share over emails or upload it on web pages.
Brief History of Computer Graphics
- 1950s: Ben Laposky created the first graphic images by manipulating electronic beams and recording them onto high-speed films using an oscilloscope. Jay Forester and Robert Everett of MIT produced Whirlwind, the first computer with a video display of real-time data. The light pen came to be introduced in 1955.
- 1960s: The first video game, SpaceWar was created by another student at MIT, Steve Russell. The first computer drawing program – Sketchpad was written by Ivan Sutherland. The computer mouse came to be invented in 1963.
- 1970s: Pong was released which could be played by one or two players on a computer screen. Paintbox was developed by a UK company that allowed filmmakers to edit and manipulate video images digitally.
- 1980s: One of the first 3D CAD packages was created using constructive solid geometry. Microsoft released the first version of MS Paint.
- 1990s: The first version of Adobe Photoshop was released. UIUC released Mosaic, the first ever web browser to display images and texts side by side.
- 2000s: Sketchup, the first web-based CAD system came to be released. The use of CGI became widespread, especially in television advertisements. Touchscreens like iPhone and iPod Touch were released by Apple making use of the GUI (Graphical User Interface).
- 2010s: Highly advanced 3D graphics, video games, Xbox, Playstations dominate the home space globally. Apart from entertainment and advertising, computer graphics became a part of scientific visualization and industrial designs for building vehicles, bridges, etc.
Types of Computer Graphics
There are two ways of drawing digital images on a computer screen.
- Raster Graphics: Raster graphics are also known as bitmap graphics. It is a type of a digital image that makes use of very small rectangular pixels to represent an image. A raster graphic is comprised of a collection of such tiny pixels that are arranged in a two-dimensional grid that features rows and columns. Bitmap graphics converts an image into a computer file made up of binary digits (zeroes and ones) that is the language of the computer. Such images made out of pixels have a resolution. Higher the resolution, clearer the picture. The more colours a picture represents, the more bits are needed to store it. This explains how a picture on your computer with a 1024 x 768 resolution using 24 bits per pixel takes approximately 2.5 MB memory for storage
- Vector Graphics: Instead of using pixels, vector graphics make use of simple straight and curved lines called vectors to create images on your computer screen. Basic shapes like circles, rectangles, and so on are used to draw various images. This not only results in a quicker creation of an image but also takes less memory to store. It is also easier to magnify vector images without any degradation of the resolution as they are not made using pixels. Today, most computer graphic packages provide you with the option of creating an image using both rasters as well as vector graphics as sometimes complex images need a combination of both.
Application of Computer Graphics
Some of the popular application areas of computer graphics include the following:
- Web Design: Computer graphics helps the designers to create interactive web platforms that utilize information architecture, photography, animation, and so on.
- Video Games: Computer graphics have changed the face of the gaming world with 3D graphics that transport you into a virtual world that almost feels real.
- Education: Mathematical modelling of concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and other engineering concepts to gain a better understanding of the system is now possible because of computer graphics.
- irtual Reality: Simulations for pilots or combat training are the best examples of computer-simulated environments that are immersive, and highly visual created using computer graphics.