The Graphics Muse
This column will be divided into two sections: Graphics Mews, a section devoted to the latest news in graphics such as new releases of products (free or commercial), people in the news, conventions and conferences and whatever else might be of general interest to the graphics community, and Musings, a section where I can spew whatever I think needs to be covered more in depth. The later section I hope will cover things like reviews of products, tips and tricks, interviews with graphics people, or maybe just my philosophies on life. You'll just have to come back each month and see where things go.
I'm open to suggestions on topics for the Musings section. I'll also take any and all notices regarding graphics tools that are being released or updated. Please don't send notices as advertisements - I only want to know about new releases or new products. I'm only doing that to keep my workload down a little.
One thing this column won't cover is X programming or windowing API's (unless they are specifically designed for the development of graphics tools). There are lots of places to get information about X. This column is about computer graphics in general.
Before I get too far into this I should note that any of the news items I
post in this section are just that - news. Either I happened to run across
them via some mailing list I was on, via some Usenet newsgroup, or via
email from someone. I'm not necessarily endorsing these products (some of
which may be commercial), I'm just letting you know I'd heard about them in
the past month.
First, let me start with some shameless self-promotion:
The Linux Graphics mini-Howto
Unix Graphics Utilities
pages. The latter of these I
started late last year while beginning to learn about computer graphics
through the use of POV-Ray, a 3D rendering tool. I had found that most of
the tools available for use with POV-Ray were not Unix based (not
specifically, anyway) so I tried to find info on Unix based tools since I
was running Linux. After I learned a bit more about computer graphics I
started the Linux Graphics mini-Howto in retaliation for a coworkers claims
that doing graphics was best left to MS based systems. NOT! The tools
need a little organizing, a few need better documentation, but in general
you can do some very impressive graphics on Linux systems.
These two pages are available at:
* http://www.csn.net/~mjhammel/linux-graphics-howto.html and
I was offered some free web space by a couple of people so I'll be moving my pages sometime in the future, but probably not till after January.
Note: if you are the official maintainer of any of the packages listed in these pages feel free to keep me informed of new releases. The information there is only as good as the info I've gathered from newsgroups and word of mouth so far.
Ok, enough about me.
My first bit of musings revolves around the use of images in web pages. I get a number of e-mails from people who've seen my web pages (or possibly my ramblings on various newsgroups or mailing lists) asking how to do blah or where can I get blah to do blah for their web pages. The "where" parts are covered by the links mentioned above. The "how" part is a broad question. I'll summarize.
When creating graphics for your pages, keep the following things in mind:
3D images are a whole other matter. There are actually more well-known tools for doing 3D work than there are for doing image manipulation (ie tools like the Gimp). Probably the best known of these is POV-Ray. This tool reads in a text file that uses a "scene description language" to describe how objects in the scene should be positioned and textured. The drawback to these tools is that they lack a point-and-click interface. There are separate tools available, known as modelers, that allow the creation of the scene files without actually rendering the image. In order to create 3D image you need to either learn the scene description language or learn who to use a modeler that will create it for you.
I know this is fairly basic and undetailed, but this is just my first column. Over time I'll try to cover both beginner and more advanced issues.
Next month: How do you create the textures that get applied to 3D images?
Beyond that, I'm considering talking about how to use Type 1 fonts in your
images: how to install them, how you can manipulate them with the Gimp to
make interesting logos, etc. I'd also like to provide some tips for using
POV-Ray and BMRT (although I have a lot to learn about the latter). And I
might try to cover a little on how to do animations. Things are pretty
open right now.
Let me know what you'd like to hear about!