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Computer Graphics and Imaging

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Beginners, Glossary and Background


Even when the only output from computers was the teletype, users would generate pictures by printing arrays of letters. Computer graphics has come a long way since then, with full length cartoons, such as Toy Story, being generated entirely on the computer.

But why use a computer to generate graphics? A drawing package offers a number of advantages over paint and brush: the ability to easily correct mistakes is one. The user can draw on several layers and combine the layers (with varying degrees of opacity) later. Special effects can add texture and various lighting conditions. Edges can be enhanced or softened. Parts of the image can be flipped, rotated, magnified or reduced. Colours can be changed and areas made lighter or darker. Make a mistake and you can quickly undo it.

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) makes use of little icons to make user interaction with the computer more intuitive.

Graphics generated from data within the computer (say producing a bar chart) can make relationships within the data much more apparent than a massive printout of figures. Visualisation programs include a range of techniques to display data in informative ways.

The graphics capabilities of computers are enhanced by graphics accelerators . Computer games often push the capabilities of the computer to their limits to a far greater extent than office applications.

Images contain a great deal of data and are ideally suited for processing by computer. Medical images such as x-ray, ultrasound, CT and MR all benefit from computer processing. Indeed, CT and MR images can only be produced by using a computer. Remote sensing employs computer processing of satellite pictures. Digital cameras and scanners are further sources of digital images.


 

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01 November, 2000
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