What are Computer Graphics?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Computer graphics refers to a fairly wide field of digital creation that primarily regards the use of computers and software programs to create visual media. Sometimes simply referred to as CG, computer graphics can include still two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) images, animated pieces of work, interactive media like video games, and just about anything else that is visually engaging and created through the use of computer. These types of graphics are often found in special effects for film and television programs and for personal computer (PC) and video games.

In a large sense, just about all images created and used in all forms of media are likely to be computer graphics. While hand drawn artwork is still used for some purposes, most finalized art created by graphic designers for use in websites, corporate logos, and advertising is created with a computer. The advantages of digital media, such as easy transportation, printing, and editing, has made other forms of visual creation less appealing to many professional artists. Even formats such as comic books are often created by scanning hand drawn images into a computer and using illustration programs to ink, color, and finish the finalized page.


A great deal of work with computer graphics is done for film and television special effects. These sorts of graphics are often created in an effort to make lifelike or photorealistic creations that blend seamlessly into a scene that has been filmed or taped. This can include explosions, giant robots, alien creatures, and fully digital sequences of action in which nothing was actually filmed and the entire scene was created in a computer. Often created by teams of dozens of people, these computer graphics typically set the high-water mark for other companies and forms of visual media. While the use of computer graphics has been decried by some critics, many filmmakers consider the digital imagery to be just another creative tool at their disposal.

PC games and video games are almost entirely composed of computer graphics. With the introduction of compact disc (CD) formats to store video games in the 1990s, there were some games that used video footage of live people mixed together with the digital images. These were fairly unsuccessful, however, and the industry standard has traditionally been to use computer graphics to create characters, environments, and action. Though the sophistication and complexity of the images created by the video game industry have advanced a great deal since the earliest games, the principals and designs behind the games have remained fairly consistent.


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Post 3

This makes me think of the old ASCII art that people used to use in the usernet forums back at the beginning of the internet (at least as far as I was concerned!). They were essentially pictures created out of the letters that a computer could produce. They were wonky, but they could also be surprisingly intricate, particularly if someone was willing to go big with them.

I guess emoticons are technically ASCII art and they are still around today.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - You don't need to take a class. Just download a computer graphics program and start practicing. You don't even need to spend money on the program. There are plenty of free ones around that are more than enough for a casual user and I know lots of people who use them for professional work as well.

Figure out what kind of graphics you want to play with (do you want to make vectors, or work with pencil sketches, or what?) and go through the tutorials they have online for a program that handles that kind of art. Once you've got a grip on the basics, it's just a matter of experimenting and practicing. There are lots of forums dedicated

to helping people with this kind of thing.

People think of art as some kind of mystical ability, but, for the most part, it's just practicing. If you can make a pencil go where you intend it to go, there's no reason you can't create something beautiful.

Post 1

It's amazing how far computer graphics have come in the last few years. Most of the time, now, I can't tell whether something has been originally crafted using a pen and pencil, or whether it has only ever existed on a screen.

And there is some incredible art out there which people do just for the sake of it and post it up for everyone to see and enjoy, without needing to pay for the privilege. What might be a priceless talent in another age is used to create Doctor Who fan images. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all!

I actually kind of want to take a computer graphics class so I can join in the fun.

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