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2D computer graphics
2D computer graphics are graphical images created with the aid of digital
computers, in which two-dimensional visual techniques are employed. The term
may also refer to the field of study or practice of two-dimensional computer
graphics methods as a whole. 2D computer graphics typically do not involve
the need for any kind of three-dimensional internal representation of
objects or lighting characteristics in the computer; that field is
customarily reserved for 3D computer graphics. Some primarily 2D software
employs 3D techniques and concepts.
In 2D computer graphics, the computer screen may be considered as a canvas
on which an image is drawn or composed. Several techniques exist for
rendering 2D graphics on a computer screen; these may be broadly categorized
into Raster graphics, in which a rectangular array of pixels is drawn to the
screen, and Vector graphics, in which images are composed of mathematical
representations of lines, curves, and other geometric shapes.
2D Graphics Hardware
Modern computer graphics card displays almost overwhelmingly use raster
techniques, dividing the screen into a rectangular grid of pixels, due to
the relatively low cost of raster-based video hardware as compared with
vector graphic hardware. Most graphic hardware has internal support for
blitting operations and sprite drawing.
2D Graphics Software
Many graphical user interfaces (GUIs), including Mac OS, Microsoft Windows,
or the X Window System, are primarily based on 2D graphical concepts. Such
software provides a visual environment for interacting with the computer,
and commonly includes some form of window manager to aid the user in
conceptually distinguishing between different applications. The user
interface within individual software applications is typically 2D in nature
as well, due in part to the fact that most common input devices, such as the
mouse, are constrained to two dimensions of movement.
Another common software implementation of 2D graphics takes the form of
paint and drawing programs. These may also be conceptually divided into the
Raster and Vector models. Raster graphics software, such as The GIMP,
Photoshop, and Paint Shop Pro, customarily provides a two-dimensional
drawing surface, analogous to a sheet of paper or canvas, which can be
colored with lines, shapes, pasted graphics, and a wide array of other 2D
visual objects. Images are manipulated and stored as a rectangular array of
Vector drawing programs include Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Such
software utilizes concepts similar to the canvas and paint, but lines,
shapes, and text are manipulated and stored as mathematical objects, rather
than an array of pixels.
Graphics applications may often make use of both techniques in a
complementary fashion; Photoshop and The GIMP, for example, include
capabilities for drawing vector-based shapes, while Illustrator and
CorelDRAW permit the inclusion of raster-based graphical elements.
Most early video games used only 2D graphics.