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 or computer generated images 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 3d model vehicle

Fig.4 The wireframe of a 3D model of a Mini Cooper