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Computer graphics is a sub-field of computer science and is concerned with
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. Computer
graphics is often differentiated from the field of visualization,
although the two have many similarities.
classification of major subfields in computer graphics might be:
studies ways to represent and process surfaces
studies with ways to represent and manipulate motion
studies algorithms to reproduce light transport
studies image acquisition or image editing
in visual art and technical drawing means the process of
creating, shading and texturing of an image, especially a photorealistic
one. It can also be used to describe the quality of execution of
that process. This is synonymous with
The emphasis of the term is on the correct
of light-and-shadow and the surface properties of the depicted
objects, not on the emotional impact,
composition, or other more generic
qualities. Unsurprisingly, most often it is used in relation to the
more exacting, meticulous techniques like pencil or airbrush.
In an artistic
rendering visual information is
interpreted by the artist and displayed accordingly using the chosen
medium. The non-photorealistic rendering area of computer graphics develops tools and
techniques to enable interpretive rendering in digital media.
article is about process of creating 3D computer graphics.
(in contrast to
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.
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
are often referred to as
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.
History of 3D
displays of computer animation
was Futureworld (1976), which included an animation of a
human face and hand — produced by
Catmull and Fred Parke
at the University of Utah.
are several international conferences and journals where the most
significant results in computer graphics are published. Among them
and Eurographics conferences and the Association for Computing
Machinery (ACM) Transactions on Graphics journal. The joint
symposium series features the major venues for the more specialized
sub-fields: Symposium on Geometry Processing,Symposium on Rendering,
and Symposium on Computer Animation. As in the rest of computer
science, conference publications in computer graphics are generally
more significant than journal publications (and subsequently have
lower acceptance rates).
computer graphics software refers to programs used to create
3D computer-generated imagery.
There are typically many stages in the "pipeline" that studios use
to create 3D objects for film and games, and this article only
covers some of the software used. Note that most of the 3D packages
have a very plugin-oriented architecture, and high-end plugins
costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars are often used by
studios. Larger studios usually create enormous amounts of
proprietary software to run alongside these programs.
are just getting started out in 3D,
one of the major packages is usually sufficient to begin learning.
Remember that 3D animation can be very difficult, time-consuming,
and unintuitive; a teacher or a book will likely be necessary. Most
of the high-end packages have free versions designed for personal
(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.
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 Windows. 3DS Max is
currently at version "2008"
is another 3D modeling application that began in the 90's on the
While it is used in a number of industries, MathWorks actively
recommends it in many of their aerospace related articles
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.
Foundation) is a free, open-source, 3D studio for animation,
modeling, rendering, and texturing offering a feature set
comparable to high end and mid range 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).
(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 BodyPaint allows artists to draw textures directly
onto the surface of models. Originally developed for the Commodore
Amiga it is also available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.
Cinema 4D is currently at version 10.5
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
and the Television hit "Lost"
utilized the software.
Inc.) is a general purpose solid/surface 3D modeler. Its primary
usage is modeling, and it also features rendering and 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
based on output quality.
(Side Effects Software) is used for visual effects, and character
animation as well as used in Disney's The Wild.
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
package that does not watermark renders. Houdini is currently at
(NewTek) originally developed on for the Amiga, LightWave 3D 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
notoriety with its use in the TV series "Babylon 5".
Contemporary use in TV and movie production can be seen with the
2004 recreated Battlestar Galactica series,
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
and the film 300 (film).
It is priced at $795 USD
and is available for both Wkindows and Mac OS X. Lightwave's
current version is Version 9.3.1
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,
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
and I, Robot.
It is available for various Unix and Linux platforms as well as
(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.
Maya comes in two versions: Maya Complete ($1999
USD) and Maya Unlimited
There is also Maya Personal Learning Edition, which is for non-commercial
use and puts watermarks on any rendered images. The current
version of Maya is "2008"
(Luxology) is a subdivision modeling, texturing and rendering tool.
Recently, version 301 added animation capabilities for camera
motion and morphs / blendshapes. It is priced in the area of
and is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. Modo's current
version is 301.
Silo (Nevercenter) is a subdivision-surface modeler
available for Mac OS X and Windows, with a Linux version in
development. Silo does not include a renderer and is priced in the
Silo is the bundled in modeler for the Electric Image Animation
(Google) is a 3D modeling package that features a sketch-based
modeling approach and is priced at
(Avid) is feature-similar Maya and is sold
as a completive alternative. Prior to its acquisition by Avid,
Softimage originally promoted the program (under the name
Softimage 3D) for use in the video game industry and secured its
promotion as part of the Nintendo N64 SDK.
The newer Softimage XSI has additional features and integrates
with mental ray rendering. XSI's current version is version
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
MODELER, MODELER XL, DESIGN, and VANTAGE.
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. It is priced in the range of
for Version 5.2 through
for Version 7. The current version is 7.5
(E-on Software) Vue 6 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.
The current version is v6.5
(Pixologic) is a digital sculpting tool that combines
modeling, texturing and painting tool available for Mac OS X and
Windows. It is priced at
current version of Zbrush is V3.