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Jan's Computer Basics:

Applications: Graphics

Clip Art CollageGraphics programs deal with pictures, either static or moving, flat or 3D. There are an amazing number of different formats for images in the world and no one program can handle them all.

Adobe Photoshop is the most widely used graphics program for professionals. PaintShopPro Icon: Off site and Adobe PhotoShop Elements are popular with non-professionals because they offer most of Photoshop's features at a lower cost. There are many other programs that work with graphics of various types. Some specialize in handling photographs or animations or creating logos. The free open source program Inkscape Icon: Off site creates vector images.

You can learn a lot by digging around a program's web site. Most include info about features plus how-to lessons.

Purpose: To create and edit images

bitmap art of bird and sunsetPaint programs work with pictures on a pixel-by-pixel basis, where a pixel is the smallest dot on the screen. Such programs handle photographs and most clip art. MS Paint is this type of program.

  • Control over each dot in the picture
  • Angled lines are jagged stair steps, especially if enlarged.

Drawing programs, on the other hand, define images in terms of vectors, that is, equations that describe geometric shapes. Fortunately, the user doesn't have to do the math!

Vector images can be enlarged and reduced quite smoothly. Some browsers still do not handle vector images well... or at all. <sigh>

Example: Vector images (in PNG format)Since some browsers may choke on a page with SVG images. At the right is a screen shot that was saved in PNG format.

Example of SVG Icon: another page in this site
The image opens in another window. Chrome shows it as intended. Other browsers may not show the image or it may be distorted.

It is amazing what artists can do with vectors. See a gallery of vector images at Inkscape Icon: another page in this site.
Images in the gallery may be screenshots in other formats instead of SVG images.

  • Does not get as fuzzy or jagged when the size is changed.
  • The file size is smaller.
  • Can't change the color of a dot in the middle of a shape.

Animation Animated eyes - looking left and then right and back and video programs put a set of still pictures into a sequence. When the sequence of images is run, the change from one picture to the next fools the eye into seeing motion. This is how movies and television work. An individual image in an animation is called a cel. (Yes, there is just one l in that word!)

The animation of eyes above was made with just 2 cels.  The animation below from Microsoft GIF Animator takes 56 cels!

 animation of folding and flying a paper airplane - from Microsoft GIF Animator


bitmap image Picture defined as a series of dots
vector image Picture defined as a set of geometric shapes, using equations
animation Sample: animation of man workingSequence of images that are shown rapidly in succession, causing an impression of movement
pixel Single picture element, the smallest dot on the screen or page. A period (.) is made of 4 pixels in a square.
palette Set of choices, such as colors or shapes

Palette: Colors  Palette: Shapes

brush Palette: Brushes (Paint in Win7)Tool for drawing lines. May give the effect of using a pencil, a paint brush, an airbrush spray, chalk, charcoal, felt-tip marker...
handles box with handles showlingShapes on a selected object that allow you to change the shape by dragging the handle
fill Button: Fill Color (Paint, Win7)Colors an enclosed area with one color or pattern
cel Single image in an animation sequence. The two cels (enlarged below) create animated eyes Animated eyes - looking left and then right and back.
Two cels that create animated eyes