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Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2004 

(n.) Refers to any computer device or program that makes a computer capable of displaying and manipulating pictures. The term also refers to the images themselves. For example, laser printers and plotters are graphics devices because they permit the computer to output pictures. A graphics monitor is a display monitor that can display pictures. A graphics board (or graphics card) is a printed circuit board that, when installed in a computer, permits the computer to display pictures.

Many software applications include graphics components. Such programs are said to support graphics. For example, certain word processors support graphics because they let you draw or import pictures. All CAD/CAM systems support graphics. Some database management systems and spreadsheet programs support graphics because they let you display data in the form of graphs and charts. Such applications are often referred to as business graphics.

The following are also considered graphics applications :

  • paint programs : Allow you to create rough freehand drawings. The images are stored as bit maps and can easily be edited.
  • illustration/design programs: Supports more advanced features than paint programs, particularly for drawing curved lines. The images are usually stored in vector-based formats. Illustration/design programs are often called draw programs.
  • presentation graphics software : Lets you create bar charts, pie charts, graphics, and other types of images for slide shows and reports. The charts can be based on data imported from spreadsheet applications.
  • animation software: Enables you to chain and sequence a series of images to simulate movement. Each image is like a frame in a movie.
  • CAD software: Enables architects and engineers to draft designs.
  • desktop publishing : Provides a full set of word-processing features as well as fine control over placement of text and graphics, so that you can create newsletters, advertisements, books, and other types of documents.
  • In general, applications that support graphics require a powerful CPU and a large amount of memory. Many graphics applications—for example, computer animation systems—require more computing power than is available on personal computers and will run only on powerful workstations or specially designed graphics computers. This is true of all three-dimensional computer graphics applications.

    In addition to the CPU and memory, graphics software requires a graphics monitor and support for one of the many graphics standards. Most PC programs, for instance, require VGA graphics. If your computer does not have built-in support for a specific graphics system, you can insert a video adapter card.

    The quality of most graphics devices is determined by their resolution—how many points per square inch they can represent—and their color capabilities.

    Also see The Science of Color in the Did You Know . . . ? section of Webopedia.

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    For pages about graphics . Also check out the following links!

    Related Links

    Computer graphics research sites 
    This collection of groups involved in computer graphic development is a great place to search for whatever aspect of computer graphics you are interested in. Many of the listings are of University groups, but a number are also businesses involved in this work.

    Computer graphics resource page 
    Provides a categorized list of topics (animation, desktop publishing, file formats, software, etc.) related to computer graphics.

    Corel Corporation home page 
    Corel's home page offers a search utility for locating product information, links to news, company information, a resource center, beta programs, conferences and tradeshow information, and service and support information. resource page 
    Offers numerous links to every aspect of desktop publishing. A few categories include: clip art, graphics, and image, computer related magazines, newsgroups, FAQs, file and FTP archives, and desktop publishing software information. A very good resource for desktop publishing professionals.

    Explanation on antialiasing graphic objects 
    Provides a guide for those creating graphics for the Web. Here you can find a definition on antialiasing, how it works, and how to achieve this effect. There are numerous graphic examples that go with each explanation.

    Optimizing Web Graphics article on how to minimize file size and dithering for Web graphics. Includes sections on the color palette, color reduction, compression, tools and techniques, and several online references.

    Free art Web site
    From Laurie McCanna, author of "Creating Great Web Graphics", this site provides links to free graphics, information on creating graphics for the Web, Adobe Photoshop tips, and book recommendations.
    A well-organized and searchable database of sites offering free web graphics, fonts, graphics software, tutorials, holiday graphics and more. Weekly downloads from a variety of well-known web artists and a free weekly newsletter.

    GIF info
    A brief overview of the GIF format. The pros and cons of using GIF images within your web site. Also overviewed are the different things you can do with GIF images including creating transparent sections, animations and interlacing.

    Ray Tracing News home page
    Ray Tracing News is an electronic magazine which deals with issues relating to computer graphics, including antialiasing.

    The Graphics File Formats Page
    Deep technical specifications of the most popular graphic formats.

    Usenet FAQs on graphics
    A collection of FAQs on graphics, file formats, animation, and specific software.

    Web icon and graphics archive
    Contains links to Web icon and graphics collections.

    Yahoo!'s computer graphics (non-business) page
    Yahoo!'s directory of computer graphics software information, particularly shareware, freeware, and applications.

    Yahoo!'s graphics page
    Yahoo!'s directory of computer and internet graphics. It includes links to a large number of sites offering everything from individually designed graphics to software, to computer animation.

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    related categories

    Business Presentation


    related terms

    3-D graphics



    alpha channel

    bit map

    bit-mapped graphics



    character based

    clip art


    desktop publishing

    display screen



    graphics file formats

    image processing

    laser printer


    Microsoft Windows


    personal computer




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