What is 3D graphics anyway?

When we paint in a 2D painting program, such as Photoshop or The Gimp, we paint directly on a rectangular area that has width and height. Similar to painting an oil-painting on a canvas. It´s called 2 Dimentional (2D), because of the two dimentions used, width and height.

3D graphics is different. It adds another dimention to the mix – depth. When you design your 3D image, you don´t paint on a horizontal and vertical canvas anymore. You are free to move in the 3D space, in all three dimentions – called X (Width), Y (Height) and Z (Depth). Your canvas is floating. It´s not static anymore. You can aim the 3D camera from any point in the 3D universe – often called a 3D scene. This gives you a tremendous power of adjusting your final image.

The ironic thing is that 3D graphics ends up being a normal 2D image in the end. In most cases, it´s printed on a piece of paper or displayed on a flat computer screen. Even when watching movies like James Cameron´s Titanic, the 3D graphics we see is displayed on a flat theatre screen.

So, here´s the important thing to know: 3D graphics end up being 2D graphics when you make the final image. However, the way you MAKE the image differs. That´s what makes 3D graphics what it is. It´s designed in a different way. Of course, there are ways of viewing these 3D images in real 3D using special glasses – but in most cases – they end up flat.

The real power with 3D graphics is the freedom of designing in all three dimentions and freely choosing a camera (viewing point) even after the “painting” is done. As an artist, I love the freedom 3D graphics gives me – and this is a huge advtantage most 3D artists agree on.


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