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Principles of Computer Graphics: Theory and Practice Using OpenGL and Maya®

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to think about what it means. What is Computer Graphics? Simply defined, Computer Graphics (or CG) is the images generated or modified on a computer. These images may be visualizations of real data or imaginary depictions of a fantasy world.

The use of Computer Graphics effects in movies such as The Incredibles and games such as Myst have dazzled millions of viewers worldwide. The success of such endeavors is prompting more and more people to use the medium of Computer Graphics to entertain, to educate, and to explore.

For doctors, CG provides a noninvasive way to probe the human body and to research and discover new medications. For teachers, CG is an excellent tool to visually depict concepts to their students. For business people, CG has come to signify images of charts and graphs used for analysis of data. But for most of us, CG translates into exciting video games, special effects and entire films-what are often referred to as CG productions. This entertainment aspect of CG is what has made it such a glamorous and sought-after field.

Ten years ago, CG was limited to high-end workstations, available only to an elite few. Now, with the advances in PC processing power and the availability of 3D graphics cards, even high school students can work on their home PC to create professional quality productions

The goal of this book is to expose you to the fundamental principles behind modern computer graphics. We present these principles in a fun and simple manner. We firmly believe that you don't have to be a math whiz or a high tech computer programmer to understand CG. A basic knowledge of trigonometry, algebra, and computer programming is more than sufficient.

As you read this book, you will learn the bits and bytes of how to transform your ideas into stunning visual imagery. We will walk you through the processes that professionals employ to create their productions, Based on the principles that we discuss, you will follow these processes step and step, to design and create your own games and animated movies.

We will introduce you to the OpenGL API—a graphics library that has become the de facto standard on all desktops. We will also introduce you to the workings of Maya, a 3D software package. We will demonstrate the workings of the Maya Personal Learning Edition—a (free) download is required.
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