The Computer in the Visual Arts / Edition 1

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Introducing a dynamic medium for artistic expression and graphic communication

"This is a seminal contributionoa must-read for anyone interested in how computers are used in art and design. Spalter masterfully presents the principles and practices of this vital and rapidly growing field. She blends just the right amount of technology with applications and implications to the visual arts, in an easy-to-read, informative style.."
-- Andries van Dam, T. J. Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education and Professor of Computer Science, Brown University, and coauthor of the authoritative book, Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice.

"At last!" Those are the words that most often greet Anne Morgan Spalteris new book--an introduction to computer graphics uniquely focused on the computer as a medium for artistic expression and graphic communication--the first comprehensive work to combine technical and theoretical aspects of the emerging field of computer art and design.

Integrating theory, examples, and the concepts underlying all the major types of graphics software, Spalter explains the principles and practices that artist, designers, illustrators, and photographers simply must understand to take full advantage of this dynamic, visual medium.

Each program is presented as part of a larger picture, profusely illustrated with diagrams and art works, including many in color. Coverage includes:

  • Digital painting and photoediting
  • Digital design and layout
  • The building and rendering of 3D worlds
  • Animation
  • Multimedia
  • The World Wide Web

Chapters on input and output address the wide range of tools and techniques for working with art and design software, and for creating both screen-based and printed works. Excerpts from interviews with artists and computer scientists add perspective to both the origins and the future directions of the field. Although some of the bookis exercises require common application software, the main body of this text is platform- and application-independent.

"For years Iive been searching the shelves for a book like this, a book that gathers together the loose strands of the ecomputer arti movement.... She gives the whole pictureo pioneer artists, technical principles, artistic choices, creative uses and misuses, all with the freshness of the hands-on practitioner."
-- James Faure Walker has spent the past 10 years integrating computer graphics into his painting, and is currently a lecturer in painting/computer graphics at UCE, Birmingham, England.


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Editorial Reviews

Spalter artist in residence, Brown U. and outreach director at the NSF Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization provides a technical and theoretical introduction to both the art and design aspects of computer graphics. Abundantly illustrated, of course, in color and b&w. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201386004
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 12/15/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 7.74 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Morgan Spalter is currently Artist in Residence, Brown Computer Graphics Group, Department of Computer Science, Brown University and Outreach Director, The NSF Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization. She designed the first computer art course at Brown and taught joint- ly there and at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She has degrees in mathematics (Brown) and in painting (RISD). Her own computer art has been exhibited both in the U.S. and abroad. She is the founder of the College Art Association SIG for Computers in the Visual Arts.


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Table of Contents

(All chapters begin with an Introduction.)

1. Computers and Computer Art: A Brief History.

Three Periods of Computer Art.

Landmarks in Computer Technology—1890 to the Early 1960s.

A Digression: The Printing Press.

From Textiles to Tabulation.

Women in Computing and Computer Art.

World War II and Its Aftermath.

Computer Art Through the Early 1970s.

The First Computer Images.

Photocopier Art.

Two Early Computer Artists.

The Search for the Laws of Aesthetics.

Representational Imagery.

Computer Film.

Computer Sculpture.

Landmarks of Computer Technology—After 1960.

Better, Faster, Cheaper.

Interactive Graphics.

Raster Graphics.

Computer Art in the Late 1970s and 1980s.

Synergy Between Literary Theory and Computer Graphics Technology.

Computer Art in the 1990s and Beyond.

2. Digital Painting and Photoediting—2D Raster Graphics.

Entering a Postphotographic Era.


Continuous and Analog Versus Discrete and Digital.

The Pixel.

Anatomy of a Painting or Photoediting Program.

Local Touch.

The Concept of Touch.

Transparency, Tool Shape, and Mixing Behavior.

Global Touch.

Tonal Mapping.


Origins of Filtering Vocabulary in Signal Processing.

Simple Transformations.

Algorithmic Touch and Special Effects.

Selection and Masking.

The Local-Global Continuum.


Moving the Edges.

Placement of Elements.

Image Size: File Size, Resolution, and Color Depth.

Calculating File Size.


The Alpha, or Transparency, Channel.

3. Keyboards, Mice, Tablets, Scanners, and Displays.

Sampling Hand Motion.


The Mouse and Its Variations.

Tablets and Styli.

Relative Versus Absolute Motion.

Reconceiving Computer Input.

Sampling Colors.


Copyright Protection.

Digital Still Cameras.

Digital Video Cameras.

The Art of Input.

Found Data.

Dangers of Input.

Introduction to Output.

Computer Displays.

Screen Types.


4. Digital Design and Layout—2D Geometric Graphics.

A New Level of Flexibility.


Geometric Shapes.

Geometry and the Nature of Selection.

Drawing Geometric Shapes by Sampling.

Adobe PostScript.

Anatomy of a Digital Design and Layout Program.


Local-Touch Tools.

Working with Local-Touch Tools.

Global-Touch Tools.

Boolean Operations (Adding and Subtracting Shapes).


Importing Raster Images.


The Page.


Composing with Objects: Groups and Layers.

Size and Scale.

Accuracy as a Compositional Tool.


Combining Raster and Geometry-Based Graphics.

5. Electronic Color.

Visible Light.

Subtractive Versus Additive Color Mixing.

Primary Colors.

Primary Colors for Subtractive and Additive Mixing.

Mixing Colors.

Gamma Correction.

Color Consistency.

Color-Matching Systems.

Color Spaces.

The RGB Cube.

The HSV and HSL Spaces.

The HWB Space.

Perceptually Based Spaces and the Munsell System.

Using Color Spaces.

Your Own Color Space.

The CIE Space.

Color Gamuts.

Color Channels.


Eye-Dropper Tool (Image as Palette).

Eight-bit Palettes.

6. Printing.

Originality and the Original.





The Psychology of the Print Button.

Printer Types.

Laser Printers.

Beyond the Print Button—I.

Beyond the Print Button—II.

Dot-Matrix Impact Printers.

Beyond the Print Button—III.

Ink-Jet Printers.

Beyond the Print Button—IV.

Thermal Wax Printers.

Dye Sublimation Printers.

Large-Scale Printing.


Large Raster-Based Printers.


Traditional Printmaking and Photography.

Film-Based Images.


Combining Digital and Traditional Techniques.

Service Bureaus.

7. Building 3D Worlds—3D Geometric Graphics I.


Modeling and Rendering.

What is a Model?

What’s 3D About 3D Modelers?

Making a 3D Geometric Model.

Volume Visualization and 3D Sample-Based Programs.

Anatomy of a 3D Program.

3D Touch—Creating Building Blocks.


Object Representations.

Boolean Operations.

Digital Clay and 3D Sculpting.

Similar Forms Created in Different Ways.

Assembling the Building Blocks.





Tree Diagrams.


Master-Instance Relationships.

Algorithmic Form Generation.

Modeling Nature.

Genetic and Evolutionary Art or Artificial Life.

Particle Systems.


Placing Objects in the World or Scene.

Size and Scale.

8. Rendering 3D Worlds—3D Geometric Graphics II.

Surface Properties.

Complexity of Color in 3D Programs.

Surface Reflection Properties.

Surface Transmission Properties.


3D Painting.

Working with Lights.

Virtual Cameras and Points of View.



Modeling Light Interaction with Surfaces.

Lighting Models.

Shading Models.

Global Rendering Methods.

Environment Mapping.

Depth Cueing and Other Special Effects.

Effect of Photorealistic 3D Graphics on “Visual Truth”.

Nonrealistic Rendering.

Inverse and Image-Based Rendering.

9. 3D Input and Output.

Access to Equipment.

3D Input.

3D Mice and Trackballs.




Force-Feedback Devices.

Head and Body Tracking.

3D Digitization.

3D Output.

Virtual Reality.

Stepping Into the Screen-3D Viewing and Virtual Worlds.

3D Printing.

10. 2D and 3D Animation and Video.


The Illusion of Motion.



The Wild Wild World of Linear Interpolation.

Motion Blur.

Real-Time Recording.


Anatomy of an Animation Program.


Motion and Space.

Digital Video.

Compositing Over Time.

Points of View.

Design Space Versus Display Space.


Object Interaction.

Concepts in 3D Animation.

2D Versus 3D Animated Work.

Using Hierarchy.

Automated Motion.

Motion Capture.

11. Multimedia and Interactivity.



The Relationship Between Artist and Audience.

Multimedia Concepts.

Combining Data Types.


Anatomy of an Interactive Multimedia Program.


Flowchart Hierarchies.

Stacks/Books and Cards/Pages.

Procedural and Object-Oriented Programming Paradigms.

Object-Oriented Approaches.

Interfaces for Working with and Arranging Media.

Creating Multimedia.


Creating, Gathering, and Organizing Materials.



A Framework for Forms of Interactive Multimedia.

Interactive Space.

User Interface Design.

12. The World Wide Web.

A Brief History of the Internet and The Web.


The Internet Protocol.

No Central Control.

Device Independence.

Web Browsers.


Forms of Internet-Based Interactivity.

Helpers and Plug-ins.




Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

Web Page Design and Layout.


The Web as Database.

Extensible Markup Language (XML).

3D on the Web.

Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML).

Java 3D.


Display and Distribution.

Artist Portfolios.

Traditional Museums and Galleries on the Web.

Web-Based Galleries.


Speed and the Lost Dimension.

The Role of Economics.

The Nature of the Medium.

Limits of Technique and Theory.

Appendix A: Modern Art Periods.


The Avant-Garde and Postmodernism.


Appendix B: Computing Theory.

Symbolic Logic.

The Universal Machine.

Index. 0201386003T04062001

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2001

    magnificent tome...

    wow. without a doubt this must be the STANDARD for computer artists everywhere. Lucid, thought provoking, wonderful artists, thoughtful prose...

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