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Graphic redirects here. For the Victorian newspaper, see The Graphic.
'Graphics' are visual presentations on some surface such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, or stone to inform, illustrate, or entertain. Examples are photographs, drawings, Line Art, graphs, diagrams, typography, numbers, symbols, geometric designs, maps, engineering drawings, or other images. Graphics often combines text, illustration, and color. Graphics design may consist of the deliberate selection, creation, or arrangement of typography alone, as in a brochure, flier, poster, web site, or book without any other element. Clarity or effective communication may be the objective, association with other cultural elements may be sought, or merely, the creation of a distinctive style.
Graphics can be functional or artistic. Graphics can be imaginary or represent something in the real world. The latter can be a recorded version, such as a photograph, or an interpretation by a scientist to highlight essential features, or an artist, in which case the distinction with imaginary graphics may get blurred.


The earliest graphics known to anthropologists studying prehistoric periods are cave paintings and markings on boulders, bone, ivory, and antlers created during the Upper Palaeolithic period from 40,000 - 10,000 B.C. or earlier. Many of these were found to record astronomical, seasonal, and chronological details. Some of the earliest graphics and drawings known to the modern world, from almost 6,000 years ago, are that of engraved stone tablets and ceramic cylinder seals, marking the beginning of the historic periods and the keeping of records for accounting and inventory purposes. Records from Egypt predate these and papyrus was used by the Egyptians as a material on which to plan the building of pyramids; they also used slabs of limestone and wood. From 600-250 BC the Greeks played a major role in geometry. They used graphics to represent their mathematical theories such as the Circle Theorem and the Pythagorean theorem.


:Main articles: Drawing and Technical drawing.
'Drawing' is a means of passing time, using any of a wide variety of tools and techniques. It generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface. Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools which simulate the effects of these are also used. The main techniques used in drawing are: line drawing, hatching, crosshatching, random hatching, scribbling, stippling, and blending.
Drawing is generally considered distinct from painting, in which colored pigments are suspended in a liquid medium and usually applied with a brush. Many great drawers include Sir Michael Ash and Leonardo da Vinci.


Main article: Painting
In the Middle Ages paintings were very distorted, for example with people on a castle wall disproportionally large because they were what was important in the painting. Later realism and perspective became more important, symbolised by the use of a frame with a wire mesh that the painter would look through at the scene to precisely copy those dimensions on the canvas that had a corresponding grid drawn on it. During the Renaissance artists took a non-mathematical approach to drawing. Giotto di Bondone and Duccio di Buoninsegna made great advancements in graphics by using perspective drawing with the use of symmetry, converging lines and foreshortening.


Main article: Printmaking
Printmaking originated in China after paper was invented (about A.D. 105). Relief printing first flourished in Europe in the 15th century, when the process of papermaking was imported from the East. Since that time, relief printing has been augmented by the various techniques described earlier, and printmaking has continued to be practiced as one of the fine arts.

Line Art


Main article: Etching
Etching is an intaglio method of printmaking in which the image is incised into the surface of a metal plate using an acid. The acid eats the metal, leaving behind roughened areas, or if the surface exposed to the acid is very narrow, burning a line into the plate. The process is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer (circa 1470-1536) of Augsburg, Germany, who decorated armour in this way, and applied the method to printmaking. Etching is also used in the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and semiconductor devices.


Main article: Illustration
'Illustration' is a visualisation such as drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an Illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article) Traditionally by providing a visual representation of something described in the text.
Illustrations can be used to display a wide range of subject matter
and serve a variety of functions like:
* giving faces to characters in a story;
* displaying a number of examples of an item described in an academic textbook (e.g. A Typology);
* visualising step-wise sets of instructions in a technical manual.
* communicating subtle thematic tone in a narrative.
* linking brands to the ideas of human expression, invididuality and creativity.
* making a reader laugh or smile.


Main article: Graphs
'chart' or 'graph' is a type of information graphic that represents tabular numeric data. Charts are often used to make it easier to understand large quantities of data and the relationship between different parts of the data.


Main article: Diagrams
A diagram is a simplified and structured visual representation of concepts, ideas, constructions, relations, statistical data, anatomy etc used in all aspects of human activities to visualize and clarify the topic.


Main article: Symbols
'symbol', in its basic sense, is a conventional representation of a concept or quantity; i.e., an idea, object, concept, quality, etc. In more psychological and philosophical terms, all concepts are symbolic in nature, and representations for these concepts are simply 'token' artifacts that are allegorical to (but do not directly codify) a symbolic meaning, or symbolism.

Geometric design


Main article: Maps
'map''' is a simplified depiction of a space, a navigational aid which highlights relations between objects within that space. Most usually a map is a two-dimensional, geometrically accurate representation of a three-dimensional space.
One of the first 'modern' maps was made by Waldseemüller.


:Main article: Photography
One difference between photography and other forms of Graphics is that a photographer, in principle, just records a single moment in reality. There doesn't seem to be any interpretation. But a photographer can choose the field of view and the angle and can use other techniques, such as various lenses to distort the view or filters to change the colours. In recent times digital photography has opened the way to an infinite number of fast but strong manipulations. Even in the early days of photography there was controversy over photographs of enacted scenes that were presented as 'real life' (especially in war photography, where it can be very difficult to record the original events). Shifting someone's pupils ever so slightly with simple pinpricks in the negative could have a dramatic effect.
Just the choice of the field of view can have a strong effect, effectively 'censoring out' other parts of the scene, in other words cropping out selected parts or just avoiding including them in the photograph. This even touches on the philosophical question what reality is. Our eyes have their own way of recording visual information and our brains process that information based on previous experience, making us see just what we want to see or what we were taught to see. Photography can do (and even necessarily does) the same, except that someone else interprets for you. Of course, the same applies to other forms of graphics, but there it is obvious and accepted, and even expected because one wants to see not so much what an artist sees but how he sees it. In a different way this applies to technical and scientific drawings such as biological drawings, where one wants to see the essentials of something, say, an insect, not the specifics of this one insect (genotype in stead of phenotype).

Engineering drawings

:Main article: Engineering drawings
An 'engineering drawing' is a type of drawing that is technical in nature, used to fully and clearly define requirements for engineered items, and is usually created in accordance with standardized conventions for layout, nomenclature, interpretation, appearance (such as typefaces and line styles), size, etc.

Computer graphics

:Main article: Computer graphics
In computer graphics there are two types of graphics: Raster, where each pixel is separately defined, and vector, where mathematical formula are used to draw lines (eg 'take two points and draw a parabole between them'), which are then interpreted at the 'receiving end' to produce the graphic. Vectors make for in principle infinitely sharp graphics and usually smaller files, but is limited to relatively simple representations.
In 1950 the first computer-driven display was attached to MIT's Whirlwind I computer to generate simple pictures. This was followed by MIT's TX-0 and TX-2- interactive computing which increased interest in computer graphics in the late 1950s. In 1962 Ivan Sutherland invented Sketchpad, an innovative program that influenced alternative forms of interaction with computers.
In the mid-1960s large computer graphics research projects were begun at MIT, General Motors, Bell Telephone labs, and Lockheed Aircraft. D. T. Ross of MIT developed an advanced compiler language for graphics programming. S.A.Coons, also at MIT, and J. C. Ferguson at Boeing, began work in sculptured surfaces. GM developed their DAC-1 system and other companies, such as Douglas, Lockheed, and McDonnell, also made significant developments. In 1968 Ray tracing was invented by Appel.
During the late 1970s personal computers began to become more powerful and capable of drawing basic and complex shapes and designs. In the 1980s artists and graphic designers began to see the personal computer, particularly the Macintosh, as a serious design tool that could save time and be used to draw more accurately than other methods. 3D computer graphics became possible in the late 1980s with the powerful SGI computers, which were later used to create some of the first fully computer-generated short films at Pixar. The Macintosh remains one of the most popular tools for computer graphics in graphic design studios and businesses.
Modern computer systems dating from the 1980s and onwards often use a graphical user interface (GUI) to present data and information by using symbols, icons and pictures rather than text. Graphics is one of the five key elements of multimedia technology.
3D graphics became more popular in the 1990s in gaming, multimedia and animation. In 1996 Quake, one of the first fully 3D games, was released. In 1995 Toy Story, the first full-length computer-generated animation film, was released in cinemas worldwide. Since then computer graphics have become more accurate and more detailed because of more advanced computers and better 3D modeling software applications such as Cinema 4D.

Another use of graphics on computers are screensavers, that originally had (and still have) the purpose of preventing the layout of much-used GUIs 'burning into' the computer screen, but have evolved into true pieces of art. The actual practical use of screensavers is now obsolete since modern screen are not succeptible to such "burning".

Web graphics

In the 1990s Internet speeds increased, and Internet browsers capable of viewing images were released, the first being Mosaic. Websites began to use the GIF format to distribute small graphics such as banners, advertisements and navigation buttons on web pages. Web graphics are useful in providing a truly graphical user interface to websites rather than plain text.
A program like MS Paint in Microsoft Windows can be used for beginners, and gradually more professional programs like Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro can give you more abilities but may be harder to use.
Numerous websites have been created to host communities for web graphics artists. A growing community consists of people who use photoshop to create forum signatures and other digital artwork.


Graphics are visual elements often used to point readers and viewers to particular information. They are also used to supplement text in an effort to aid readers in their understanding of a particular concept or make the concept more clear or interesting. popular magazines, such as TIME, Wired and Newsweek, usually contain graphic material in abundance to attract readers, unlike the majority of scholarly journals. In computing, graphics are used as an interface for the user; and graphics is one of the five key elements of multimedia technology. Graphics are among the primary ways of advertising the sale of goods or services. It could be painted or drawn by hand, computer-generated graphics or photographed.


Graphics are commonly used in business and economics for financial charts and tables to represent Price and Quantity of a product. The term Business Graphics came into use in the late 1970s when personal computers became capable of drawing graphs and charts of data usually only displayed in tables, Business Graphics can be used to more easily notice changes over a period of time.


This is probably where most money is to be made with Graphics, to the extent that artists need to do advertising work beside the artistic work or even take advertising potential into account when creating art to increase the chances of selling the artwork.


Graphics are heavily used in education in textbooks for subjects such as geography, science and math to illustrate theories and concepts. Diagrams are also used to label photographs and pictures. A common example of graphics in use to educate is diagrams of human anatomy.
Educational animation is an important emerging field of graphics. Animated graphics can have advantages over static graphics for explaining subject matter that changes over time.
The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary uses graphics and technical illustrations to make reading material more interesting and easier to understand. In an encyclopedia graphics are used to illustrate concepts and show examples of a particular topic being discussed.
In order for a graphic to function effectively as an educational aid, the learner must be able to interpret it successfully. This interpretative capacity is one aspect of graphicacy.

Film and animation

Computer graphics are often used in the majority of new feature films, especially those with a large budget. Films to heavily use computer graphics include Spider-Man and War of the Worlds.

Graphics education

The majority of schools, colleges and universities around the world educate students on the subject of graphics and art.

Famous graphic designers

Aldus Manutius designed the first Italic type style which is often used in desktop publishing and graphic design. April Greiman is known for her influential poster design. Paul Rand is well known as a design pioneer for designing many popular corporate logos including the logo for IBM, NeXT and UPS. William Caslon during the mid-18th century designed many typefaces including ''ITC Founder's Caslon, ITC Founder's Caslon Ornaments, Caslon Graphique, ITC Caslon No. 224, Caslon Old Face and Big Caslon''.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Graphics".