The Role of Components within a given computer system in the Production and Manipulation of Graphics Introduction: In this assignment, I will explain the role of hardware and software components within a computer system. Furthermore, I will explain how they relate to digital graphics.I will also recommend suitable components for Cambridge Industrial Design. (P1) I will then compare the limitations of different software packages used in graphics work. (M1) Digital graphics are in their own way an art form, digitally constructed to create phenomenal images. However, you need to have some sort of artistic ability combined with a suitable computer system before you can design the perfect graphic. Graphics Card
Starting the recommendations with the most important –graphics card. A graphics card is perhaps the most effective and important when running graphics based software such as Photoshop. This is because all graphics based software such as Photoshop or illustrator demands RAM and CPU power. Furthermore, the card takes digital information from the OS resulting in what is shown to be the picture on the screen. It then produces a signal that the display understands. A graphics cardhas its own CPU and RAM and it affects the performance of the core CPU by processing its own graphics or at least assisting with the process.Colour depth is the number of bits used by the graphics system to hold the colour of each pixel.Professional graphic designers tend to work with 32-bit colour depth, this gives true colour (32 bits for each pixel: 24 bits for the colour and 8 bits giving transparency information of 256 values, from opaque to fully transparent). 24-bit colour depth means the number of colours available on a system would be 16.7 million. ‘Pixel’ is short for picture element which is a spot of colour on an output device.A suitable graphics card would be the Asus AMD Radeon HD 6670 Graphics Card (1GB, PCI-Express, GDDR5 and dust-proof Fan). Moreover, the graphics card needs to deliver resolution that is decent enough to meet user needs. The resolution is short for display resolution, which is the number of pixels on a screen. It is displayed using two numbers, for example, 1024 x 768 is 1024 pixels across and 768 pixels down, giving you 786, 432 dots on the screen. RAM
Yet another important and effective component is RAM (Random Access Memory).
Its core purpose is to maintain running software (the collection of programs installed on the computer) and whatever documents/graphic files that are opened by the user. There is most likely to be 1GB RAM within most modern computers and that will change when a PC has a memory upgrade. Without it, the computer would front the BIOS screen upon start up with an additional beep or two stating that the RAM is uninstalled. There is an endless flow of data between the HDD (Hard Disk Drive), the RAM and the processor. When a software application is run, the program is copied to the RAM from the HDD. Once transported, the program can function at high speeds to the processor where the program code can be run. Electricity is the speed in which the RAM functions, faster than the hard disk, which works at the speed the disk spins. An effective RAM module that I would recommend is Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz CL9 8GB DIMM Memory Module (Kit of 2).
The flow of data in a system
The flow of data in a system
Software being run and opening documents
Software being run and opening documents
Documents being saved
Documents being saved
Modern hard disk drives are now commonly known to have cache memory built
into them to help speed up the performance. Cache is very fast electronic memory between RAM and HDD and is used to make a PC run faster. Hard Disk Drives vs. Solid State Drives (HDD vs. SSD)
Something a computer relies on is memory. Hard Disk Drives are pure memory; the core platform that we save our files onto is the hard disk drive because it has the capacity to hold mass storage. All files are saved onto a HDD. For example, a word document is saved to a folder within a folder within a hard drive. Other files such as programs are saved onto the hard drive. Modern day HDDs are cheap and effective as the cost is low and the memory capacity can be of mass size, however, they are slow which makes HDDs a worthy competitor for SSDs. SSDs are flash memory drives, capable is holding programs and loading them faster than HDDs, however, small in memory capacity and expensive. Furthermore, you can combine the two. You can use the Solid state drive to save and quickly load programmes such as adobe Photoshop and use the hard disk driveto store images, videos, music and documents. I would recommend this powerful combination to anyone searching for fast performance and large memory capacities.
The processor (otherwise known as CPU) is the very soul and performance core of the computer system; it is what allows the operating system and other software applications to-run. Every program demands dedication from the processor to decode commands that are then actionedinside the CPU to make them work.When a program is running, the CPU has to make every command work consistently one after the other. However, modern processors have the power to process commands side by side. This means that the quicker the commands are executed, the quicker the program responds to the user. Central Processing Units (CPUs) play an important role when it comes to maintaining complex digital images.This affects applications such as adobe Photoshop and adobe illustrator because they demand dedicated CPU processes in order to function. It is important for you to purchase a powerful processor so that you can run applications such as adobe Photoshop and illustrator at high performance rates. I would recommend an AMD HDZ965FBGMBOX Phenom II X4 965 – 3.4 Ghz AM3 Black Edition CPUwhich has a long name, however, processes
programs quick and effectively. Moreover, graphics operations involve a lot of work from a processor such as: * Rescaling images
* Saving or exporting images into other formats (converting bitmaps into JPEGs) * Adding effects to graphics e.g. tone or colour balance. These operations need good/fast processors to operate efficiently. Digital Cameras Card Readers and Storage
Someone who is passionate about graphics design often finds himself or herself needing to import pictures from a digital device such as a camera to a computer system. There are various methods for this type of activity, here are the three most common; * Cable
Cable: the majority of digital cameras have a cable that connects the camera to the computer so that pictures can be transferred from the cameras storage to the computer’s hard disk. The cable is most likely to be USB but there are other standards, for example, the faster FireWire® is also obtainable.
Card: the most recent digital cameras use flash cards to store their snaps. There are various types of cards on the market, each with a selection of sizes and connections: * SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) is a high storage capacity card which can store up to 256GB * SD (Secure Digital) is a secure memory card about the size of the Apple® Iphone4ssim * CF (Compact Flash) the world’s most popular version of digital memory * MMC (MultiMedia Card) is a very small card which is compatible with SD devices * XD was produced by Fujifilm and Olympus with a size of 20 x 50 x 1.7mm * Memory Stick form Sony which is used in a wide range of their products * SM (Smart Media) from Toshiba– the least popular.
Many computers used for graphic design have card readers that can accept multiple types of cards, often in the same slot like the MMC, which can operate in the same slot as an SD. Furthermore, removing a flash card from your camera and inserting it into your computer with the intention of
transferring pictures is a quick and easy process, which makes life easier for the passionate designers. Wireless: Wi-Fi is a popular standard for wireless networking and connection for devices such as, PCs, printers, mobile smart phones and now, cameras. There are now cameras on the market that offer wireless connection to a network or a PC. This connection enables you, the user, to transfer data without the need for a USB cable or the removal of a memory card. Wi-Fi is an enhanced version of Bluetooth®. Bluetooth® was created for the same reason as Wi-Fi – to transfer images between a mobile phone and a computer. Suggestion: personally, I would recommend The Panasonic Lumix G6 camera for graphical use. I think that it is an excellent camera, with very few issues, although battery life is not amazing, it does not overshadow its ability to produce. It had built-in Wi-Fi features that are perfect for sending images to your PC. Additionally, the camera is good value for money, especially as the introductory price competes very well with similar brands, making it more likely drop in price over time. The Panasonic Lumix G6 delivers excellent image quality as it comes with a kit lens. There are a large number of lenses available for when you want to upgrade, from Panasonic and Olympus as well as many other manufacturers, making it more flexible than most digital cameras. Specs are as follows: * 16.05 megapixel live MOS sensor, low-light AF
* 1.44million dot OLED EVF
* P/S/A/M manual video control, 50p/24p
* One-touch picture sharing and remote shooting
* Electronic shutter
* 3inch Touch screen, 1036K dots
* (Courtesy of http://www.ephotozine.com)
(Courtesy of http://www.ephotozine.com)
7fps continuous shooting, 5fps with continuous AF
* Improved video 50p/24fps, stereo mic
* ISO160 – ISO25600
* New Venus engine – Area based noise reduction
* 19 Filter effects
* Sweep / Auto Panoramic feature (filter)
* Focus peaking
Graphic files need to be saved so they can be used again, edited, backed up or sent to a client. Back up
Copying work (e.g. files of any sort) to another location so that it is kept safe in case of an emergency or other reason (e.g. file corruption, fire, flood and any additional disaster or data loss event). Users tend to back up to CD-ROM, then store the file somewhere safe, such as a safe or digitally on an off-site mainframe. CD-ROM and optical drives
Most computer systems have CD-ROM along with DVD drives which are optical disks that are used to install software, play DVDs and store files. Files must be the correct file type for the optical drives to store them. The following the table shows options available for optical drives: USB Storage Devices
There are many USB storage devices currently available to plug into the USB port of a computer system. External hard drives are popular as a way of backing up data and to transfer a significant amount of work between computers. This is handy because photographers or graphics designers tend to hold hundreds of image files with large memory capacities. Another, method of USB storage would be the use of USB pen drives which are solid state devices. A solid state device is a device that has no moving parts, USB pen drives are solid state because they store data onto electronic circuits which sustain themselves even when unplugged. They have become increasingly popular and offer a reasonable capacity for storing files. This is extremely efficient when moving from office to home or home to client and vice-versa. Some organisations send their completed graphics saved onto these solid state devices through the post because they are now cheap enough to do so.
Graphics tablets are much more precise than a mouse which makes it a unique input device that beneficial to the graphic designer. For example, a standard £150 graphics tablet on average has around 2068 levels of pressure, giving you that paper on pen feel. Positioning is everything because when the pen touches the tablet, the exact point that was pressed will come up on
the monitor. In addition to this, the tablet pens usually have a pressure sensitive tip so if the user presses harder than normal, the line will thicken. Scanner
Scanners are typically the best method wto use when inputting images into a computer. They have a similar mechanism the photocopier, however, they have a scanning bar that moves across the length of the glass underneath the scanner. A document is placed face down onto a glass window that scans the document by moving back and forth beneath the glass. Light from a lamp reflects onto from the mirror into the lens. The CCD (charge-coupled device) which is an image detector that converts the image to digital signals will focus the image and then make it digital using an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), this then sends the results to the scanner’s hardware and the host PC. Printer
A printer is a device that produces hard copy by printing onto paper, overhead projector transparency or t-shirts. There are multiple printers available. Here is an example of just a few: * Inkjet printers: have small nozzles that squirt miniature droplets of ink onto the paper. They are cheap to buy and run, however, they are slow when it comes to complex printing. They can produce graphics that are similar to photographs. * Colour laser printers: have magenta, yellow, cyan and other black toners. They are usually more expensive than inkjets; however, they have similar running costs and can work a lot faster. * Dye-sublimation printers: are printers that use vaporising techniques such as, dye vaporising that seeps into the papers surface. They are usually more expensive than colour laser printers but run quite slow. However, they produce real photograph quality. * Solid ink printers: use sticks that are wax-like substances that are melted and then applied to the page. They generate quickly with standard quality. They are fairly costly. However, they are low-cost machines which can make them a cheaper selection over time. Software
Software is the term that is used to describe programs that run on a computer. Application software is used to help users produce work. For graphic designers, Photoshop is a good example of this. There are multiple
applications that can create and manipulate graphics. Limitations (M1)
A vector image is one of two major graphic types. Instead of an image consisting of one whole Picture, Vector image consists of many shapes. These shapes are editable, for example, you change the geometry, colour and size. The Software used to create Vector graphics is referred to as object-based editing software. Common vector formats include Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and SWF (Shockwave Flash). The unique thing about a vector image is that if an object in a graphic is quite large, the file size is usually small so it does not take up too much memory capacity. Vectors achieve their distinctive difference by consisting of small points and dots which are then anchored together to create an image. The fact that these objects are created by points or dots means that a vector is modifiable, enabling you to re-scale and re-size an image whenever it suits the user, this is why vectors are often used for logos. Vectors are lossless file types. The main features of vector graphics are:
* Small file size when saved to hard disk
* No loss of print quality when enlarged or compressed
* They are made from objects such as circles and rectangles * Each object had an outline and/or fill
* Objects can be grouped together
* Vector graphics are good for diagrams.
A bitmap graphic is an image that is made out of pixels; these pixels consist of many different colours. Providing you have the right software, you may have the ability to edit each individual pixel. For example, Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop allows you to edit bitmap images with ease and precision with the ability to save your graphic in multiple formats. Here’s an example of some of the most common: GIF, JPG or JPEG, PNG and BMP as well as many more. However, a bitmap image holds so many pixels that it can create a large file size. Usually, bitmap graphics are created to remain the same size and because of this, when re-sizing a bitmap graphic, your image will stretch it, making it distorted and pixelated, this means that a bitmap
is a lossy file type. Bitmap graphics are good for web page illustrations. An example of a software package that is used with bitmap graphics is Corel Paint Shop Pro® and Microsoft® Paint. Microsoft® paint allows the user to freely draw however, Corel Paint Shop Pro® provides precision with multiple tools and layers letting you edit efficiently. Photo manipulation software
When manipulating photos, a graphic designer will always go for the software which provides the best possible tools for the graphic that they want to produce. However, software differs depending on what sort of graphic you want to produce, for example, different software will have a different selection of tools that have different effects on different file types. Adobe Photoshop allows bitmaps to be created, edited and manipulated, but it won’t allow you to work with vector graphics. Moreover, graphic designers create logos and banners regularly, and banners and logos need to be re-sized for different purposes such as, letterhead logos, website logos, bus stops and other purposes. You can create logos and banners in Photoshop, however, it won’t allow the type of flexibility that a vector graphic does. Illustrator
Because of the software limitations of Photoshop, Adobe introduced Illustrator, which provides software for creating vector graphics. Logos and banners are generally created using photo manipulation software such as Adobe Illustrator, which allows you to create, modify, and manipulate vectors. Vector graphics are made out of shapes that include rectangles and circles that are put together to create lines that form an image. These shapes and lines are put together to form a mathematically constructing image that is then filled with a gradient. Creating vectors like this, will allow you to re-size and compress your graphics without compromising the size of the file or the look of it. For example, compressing techniques can sometimes distort the image, making it pixelated, with aa vector, you will not have this problem.
Mouse’s are perfect for using a computer for normal purposes; however, it has limitations for graphics design. Drawing a graphical image with a mouse can be difficult because it is digital, which means that you will not have that ‘pen on paper feel’ that you would with a stylus (pen for graphics tablet). Graphics tablet allow you to have much more freedom by having thousands of levels of pressure (e.g. 2048 levels) to really give you that pen on paper feel, enabling you to use your natural artistic skills. Furthermore, a mouse has limitations when it comes to their buttons. For example, on average mouse has 2-3 buttons. These buttons are used for clicking on programmes and using tools, the middle button is for scrolling up and down the screen and the right button is for having further options for whatever button you are pressing. Sometimes three buttons isn’t enough. With some mouse you’re able to get more buttons which allows the user more control and freedom of choice. Furthermore, you are able to attach a macro to a button. For example if you use a certain programme frequently such as Microsoft word or excel you can quickly access it by clicking a button on the mouse. The mouse uses a button which is either on or off. For example, when you draw lines you have to click the mouse, but when you let go of the button, you stop drawing the line. This isn’t the case with graphics tablets. Graphics tablets
Natural artists tend to use pencil and paper to create pictures; however, modern day artists tend to use more digitally based methods such as Adobe Photoshop. If this is the case, then you may find that the graphics tablet is a good piece of hardware to use. With average tablets having 2048 levels of pressure making it easier for artists to draw thicker lines when they press harder on the tablet. However, the limitation of a graphics tablet is that they can be slower and drawing an image the size of an A4 piece of paper would require you to buy a larger graphics tablet, but this would cost you a lot of money to get a graphics tablet the size of an A4 piece of paper, which is a limitation. A huge limitation for a graphics tablet would be that you’re are cannot move your image around and use it comfortably like you would if you were drawing on piece of paper and also with a graphics tablet (depending on how new it is) you’ll be drawing on the tablet but looking at your screen.
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