As ancient says “ a pixel is worth thousand words”, graphics is essential everywhere to understand the things, concepts, etc easily. Computer graphics is useful in almost all part of our life. In the following sections we are discussing some of the popular areas of computer graphics.
Design and Drawing : In almost all areas of engineering, be it civil, mechanical, electronic etc., drawings are of prime importance. In fact, drawing is said to be the language of engineers. The ability of computers to store complex drawings and display them on demand was one of the major attractions for using computers in graphic mode. However, these were further advantages.
Most of these drawings were the result of engineering calculations. In fact, programs can be written to make these calculations and the results can be used to draw diagrams on the screen. If changes are to be made, one can get back to the design formulae and so on. Thus, the are of design and drawing was one of the earliest and most useful applications of graphics.
Animation: But what brought the computers pretty close to the average individuals is the concept of animation moving pictures. It is the well known principle of moving pictures that a succession of related pictures, when flashed with sufficient speed will make the succession of pictures appear to be moving. In movies, a sequence of such pictures is shot and are displayed with sufficient speed to make them appear moving. Computers can do it in another way.
The properties of the picture can be modified at a fairly fast rate to make it appear moving. For example, if a hand is to be moved, say, the successive positions of the hand at different periods of time can be computed and pictures showing the position of the hand at these positions can be flashed on the screen. This led to the concept of “animation” or moving pictures. In the initial stages, animation was mainly used in computer games.
However, this led to a host of other possibilities. As we see later on in this course, computers not only allow you to display the figures but also offer you facilities to manipulate them in various ways – you can enlarge, reduce, rotate, twist, morph (make one picture gradually change to another – like an advertisement showing a cheetah change into a motor bike) and do a whole lot of other things.
Thus, a whole lot of films made use of computers to generate tricks. In fact, several advertisement films and cartons strips are built with no actors at all – only the computer generated pictures.
Multimedia applications : The use of sound cards to make computers produce sound effect led to other uses of graphics. The concept of virtual reality, where in one can be taken through an unreal experience, like going through an unbuilt house ( to see how it feels inside, once it is built ) are possible by the use of computer graphics technology .
In fact the ability of computers to convert electronic signals (0 & 1) to data and then on to figures and pictures has made it possible for us to get photographs of distant planets like mars being reproduced here on the earth in almost real time.
Simulation : The other revolutionary change that graphics made was in the area of simulation. Basically simulation is a mockup of an environment elsewhere to study or experience it. The availability of easily interactive devices (mouse is one of them, we are going to see a few other later in the course) made it possible to build simulators.
One example is of flight simulators, wherein the trainee, sitting in front of a computer, can operate on the interactive devices as if he were operating on the flight controls and the changes he is expected to see outside his window are made to appear on the screen, so that he can master the skills of flight operations before actually trying his hand on the actual flights.
The graphic capabilities of computers are used in a very large variety of areas like criminology (to recreate faces of victims, assailants etz.,) medical fields (recreating pictures of internal cavities, using signals sent by miniature cameras), recreation of Satellite pictures etc.