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3D computer graphics or three-dimensional computer graphics, (in contrast to 2D

computer graphics) are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of


geometric data (often Cartesian) that is stored in the computer for the purposes of
performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be stored for
viewing later or displayed in real-time.

3D computer graphics rely on many of the same algorithms as 2D computer vector


graphics in the wire-frame model and 2D computer raster graphics in the final
rendered display. In computer graphics software, the distinction between 2D and 3D
is occasionally blurred; 2D applications may use 3D techniques to achieve effects
such as lighting, and 3D may use 2D rendering techniques.

3D computer graphics are often referred to as 3D models. Apart from the rendered
graphic, the model is contained within the graphical data file. However, there are
differences: a 3D model is the mathematical representation of any three-dimensional
object. A model is not technically a graphic until it is displayed. A model can be
displayed visually as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering
or used in non-graphical computer simulations and calculations. With 3D printing,
3D models are similarly rendered into a 3D physical representation of the model,
with limitations to how accurate the rendering can match the virtual model

William Fetter was credited with coining the term computer graphics in 1961[1][2]
to describe his work at Boeing. One of the first displays of computer animation was
Futureworld (1976), which included an animation of a human face and a hand that had
originally appeared in the 1972 experimental short A Computer Animated Hand,
created by University of Utah students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke.[3]

3D computer graphics software began appearing for home computers in the late 1970s.
The earliest known example is 3D Art Graphics, a set of 3D computer graphics
effects, written by Kazumasa Mitazawa and released in June 1978 for the Apple II.
[4][5]
Overview

3D computer graphics creation falls into three basic phases:

3D modeling � the process of forming a computer model of an object's shape


Layout and animation � the placement and movement of objects within a scene
3D rendering � the computer calculations that, based on light placement,
surface types, and other qualities, generate the image

Modeling
Main article: 3D modeling

The model describes the process of forming the shape of an object. The two most
common sources of 3D models are those that an artist or engineer originates on the
computer with some kind of 3D modeling tool, and models scanned into a computer
from real-world objects. Models can also be produced procedurally or via physical
simulation. Basically, a 3D model is formed from points called vertices (or
vertexes) that define the shape and form polygons. A polygon is an area formed from
at least three vertexes (a triangle). A polygon of n points is an n-gon.[citation
needed] The overall integrity of the model and its suitability to use in animation
depend on the structure of the polygons.