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2D and 3D Computer Graphics

Two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) computer graphics are all around us
and enable us to be able to visualize and manipulate data everyday. What is the difference
between 2D and 3D computer graphics, such as 3D Models? Let's explore the difference
and similarities between them.

2D computer graphics

2D computer graphics are digital images that are computer-based. They include 2D
geometric models, such as image compositions, pixel art, digital art, photographs, and
text. 2D graphics are used everyday on traditional printing and drawing. There are two
kinds of 2D computer graphics - raster and vector graphics.

Raster graphics or bitmaps are composed of arrays of pixels. Each pixel can be a different
color or shade. They are edited on the pixel level and are used on most old computer and
video games, graphing calculator games, and many mobile phone games. Vector graphics
are composed of paths. Paths are used to describe the images by establishing
mathematical relationships between points within an image. Vector graphics are mainly
used on photographic images.

3D computer graphics

3D computer graphics are graphics that use 3D representation of geometric data. This
geometric data is then manipulated by computers via 3D computer graphics software in
order to customize their display, movements, and appearance. 3D computer graphics are
often referred to as 3d models. A 3d model is a mathematical representation of geometric
data that is contained in a data file. 3D models, can be used for real-time 3D viewing in
animations, videos, movies, training, simulations, architectural visualizations or for
display as 2D rendered images (2D renders).

In contrast to a 2D graphics, a 3D model is a "mathematical representation of any 3D


object." A 3D model is not technically a graphic until it is visually displayed as a 2D
image through a process called 3D rendering. 3D models can also be or used in non-
graphical computer simulations and calculations.

One of the advantages that 2D graphics have over 3D models is that they allow more
direct control of the image and are easier to change with relatively simple software
packages. 3D models are not so easy to change because it requires specific 3D modeling
skills and more complex and powerful 3D model software.

3D models use many of the same mathematical algorithms as 2D vector graphics in the
wire frame model. Also, when 3d models they are finally displayed as renders, they use
similar algorithms as the 2D raster graphics. 3D models use many of the 2D rendering
techniques, while 2D computer graphics use many of the 3D techniques to achieve
realistic effects such as lighting.
Fig.1 3D Architectural Visualization of an office space

Fig.2 3D model of Arab battlefield commonly used for military training, simulations, and
3D games
Fig.3 2D renders a BMW M3 cabriolet 2008 3d model vehicle

Fig.4 The wireframe of a 3D model of a Volkswagen Beetle