Assignment One: Hardware & Software
GPU stands for graphics processing unit, this is the main component that makes computers able to do things that are graphically intensive, such as photo or video editing and also gaming
The monitor is the thing that displays the images that the computer makes, it is plugged into the GPU if the computer has one and if not it is plugged into the motherboard, we need monitors otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see what is going on.
The mouse is a pointing device, it can be used to draw on programs like paint or photoshop but most people that are into graphics design would use something like a graphics tablet.
This is a small device that comes with a pen, the pen doesn’t actually write anything but it is used to input things into the computer; much like a mouse, however it is more precise and easier to use than a mouse and people that are good at drawing with pens and pencils can easily showcase their art on a computer with a few minor adjustments. Graphics Tablets are great for all kinds of graphics design.
The PSU or power supply unit is the thing that powers the whole computer, more expensive and powerful computers can have PSUs that draw upwards of 1000 watts but normal office PCs can draw as little as 200-300 watts.
CPU stands for central processing unit, it is the brain of the computer, most CPUs these days have integrated GPUs on them so that people that don’t need all of the horsepower of a normal GPU can buy this and save money and time because they do not need to pick out a dedicated GPU. The CPU is very important when it comes to graphics design because programs like photoshop are very CPU intensive. They require CPU’s with a clock speed of higher than 2.5ghz and at least a dual core CPU, the Recommended requirements are a Quad Core CPU with > 3.0Ghz clock speed.
Hard drives are great, for mass storage, they are slower than SSDs but still give you at least 250+ MB/s read and write speeds which is good enough for anything that you would need it to do.
An SSD is just a fast hard drive, it has no moving parts and it allows the computer to access the information stored on it up to 5x faster than a regular hard drive with some of the newer and more expensive SSDs performing up to 10x as fast.
Keyboards allow you to input things into a computer, while not that significant in Graphics Design, it is still used by many people because it allows the user to use key combinations as shortcuts to do different things.
RAM is random access memory, the more you have, the better your computer can run, it basically keeps things in cached memory so that it is there to use instantly when you need it, normal computers these days average about 4gb of RAM but most people have opted for 8gb, for Graphics Design I would recommend something like 16gb to ensure that you have enough memory for whatever you need to do while running intensive programs.
The motherboard is essentially the thing that connects all of the other components together and tells everything what to do. It comes with software installed onto it called the BIOS which is the basic thing that is needed to tell the components what they need to do. The motherboard has lots of slots on it which is usually filled with components such as; Ram, Graphics card(S), A CPU, and all of the cables needed to connect things such as Hard drives and SSD’s.
Paint.net is free and better than MS paint because of all of its extra options, most people opt to download this and they have good reasons too because it is one of the best tools for basic image editing.
MS PAINT is the default program on a computer that can be used to edit pictures or anything of that sort.
This is the main program that most people prefer to use for photo editing, people like it because of all of it’s features and options and it’s appeal comes to people that are ready to sit and learn how to use a piece of software, this is because it has so many features that you need to learn about and things of that sort. it is something that you can really get in to and work on and learn about for years and years while always figuring out how to do new things.
Drivers are little pieces of software that are constantly updated to make your hardware run as well as it possibly can. New drivers come out weekly, monthly or even yearly to make sure that your computer can function in the way that it is supposed to.
Vector V.s Bitmap:
- uses less processing power
- made of pixels
- individual elements cannot be grouped
- takes up less memory
- takes up less storage space
- uses more processing power
- made of calculations and equations
- elements can be grouped
- takes up more memory
- take up more storage space
Different types of file formats are used in different situations, there is a lot of things that we can do to determine what kind of file format our pictures need to be saved as, saving things as the wrong file format can make them look silly and unprofessional or it can have no impact at all depending on what you are doing.
Typical Use / Bitmap / Vector
Used For: Photographs
relatively small file sizes
16.7 million different colours
supported by a wide range of software programs
does not support transparency
does not preserve layers
Used For: internet use
used by a lot of websites
no animation support
some older browsers do not support it
Used For: Animation
can be animated
works well with PNG backgrounds
they require small file sizes
they are compressed with bitmap format so quality is lost
256 colour limitation
Used For: Use BMP for any type of bitmap (pixel-based) images
Bitmap files may be easily created from existing pixel data stored in an array in memory
Pixel values may be modified individually or as large groups by altering a palette if present
they can be very large
they do not scale well
internet use to make your picture easier to find in search engines
not compressed/good quality
images are defined via XML
no information lost through scaling/zooming
can be printed in high quality
not widely supported
Used For: TIFF is good for any type of bitmap (pixel-based) images
no image data is lost
better quality than Jpeg
saved at max bit depth
very large file size
is overkill for anyone that isn’t into photography
Used For: Photoshop project file
save your edited pictures without rendering them fully, easy for when you need to go back to them later
cannot be opened as a picture unless you have Photoshop from adobe
A lot of people want to get into graphics design because it is a fun and creative way to express yourself and it can also be good for games design and things of that nature, unfortunately, some people do not have the money to go out and buy all of the high end equipment that is needed to produce high quality content. For example, you can use a photo editor that is free, such as paint, and that will allow you to do very basic things such as remove the background of a picture or correct minor things such as red eye or anything else. Then we have a program such as photoshop which will allow you to do so much more than just the basics that free programs can offer you. This is just one example of the software limitations that some people will have to overcome to be better at graphics design.
These were just two examples of different software used in graphics design, ultimately it’ll come down to two choices, the free programs that are included with your PC and downloaded from the Internet or the Paid option that will allow you to do more with your work and keep advancing on in the world of digital graphics, obviously some have limitations and that is why you will have to try everything out before you commit to buying any kind of software.
One major limitation of the Paid things (such as Adobe Suite) is user knowledge and their ability to learn new things, this will come in time to most people but using things like photoshop is a long and tiring process to learn all of the options and things that you have the option to change, most people spend years on photoshop and still have no idea how to half of the stuff that photoshop can offer.
On to the hardware side of things, people these days usually have a laptop to do work on, this is okay and laptops are great for facebook and browsing the web but when it comes to hardcore tasks, some of the laptops cannot cope with the higher end software used for photo editing. An exception to this would be ultrabooks and Macs and any kind of decent laptop that has been made in the past two years or so, most of the prebuilt systems these days are capable of running photoshop and/or games which means that they are powerful enough to do a little bit of 3D rendering.
Using a more powerful computer obviously has it’s benefits, you can do more at once and it allows you to try new things, making a big change in a program like photoshop might take a while and it will take even longer to undo the change if your PC is not powerful enough to handle the program doing a lot of things at once but if you have a PC that meets the recommend requirements then you should be able to make mistakes freely and redeem yourself with an undo in a couple of seconds.
Technology is always changing, weather its a small change or the next breakthrough thing such as 3D printing, you can always be sure that something new is just around the corner, companies announce things daily and there’s always something going on in the technology world.
Monitors have come a long way over the years, starting out at 4:3 aspect ratio and 800x600 resolution and becoming better and better until the point where it’s hard to have hardware powerful enough to drive the newest monitors with insane 8k resolutions.
The oldest monitors were designed to just display text because that’s all computers used to be able to output. Then CRT monitors came around and they had an impressive refresh rate of anything from 50 to 75. This means that people were able to play 3D games smoothly with the monitor refreshing 75 times a second. Seeing as though most monitors and TVs these days still have a 60Hz refresh rate, this is still good enough and we haven’t needed to improve. Considering we have 4k monitors right now, 60Hz is still good because it means that over 8,000,000 pixels are changing 60 times a second at a speed that makes it look very smooth.
Personally I think monitors these days are better than they were back then. We have sharper colours, better viewing angles and all-round better looking displays, this means that our computers can be aesthetically pleasing and we can keep them in our living rooms without them looking out of place.
However there is still use for old monitors, they are great for playing old games like Mario because games like that were designed to be played on older hardware so they often run a lot better on slower, lower resolution screens.
Tablet Computers and Phones:
Mobile phones have been a big part of our lives for a long time now, whether its someone getting the newest iPhone or some older person that still has a flip up phone, almost everyone living in the 1st world has a phone of some sort.
Years ago this was uncommon, blackberry was dominating the business market and Nokia had great consumer grade phones for normal everyday people to use. Phones only used to do the basics, they would call, text, and play a game of snake if you had some down time, now phones are setting records for being more powerful than home PCs and are getting hardware inside of them that is better than the hardware that was used when sending people to the moon, it’s crazy to think how far we have come in such a short time.
Mobile Phones from around 2001 would not have been powerful, and they would not need to be either. In a time where talking to people face to face was more common than talking on the phone and ignoring others around you, phones were irrelevant and they were nothing more than a device that was useful for talking to your friends and family when you hadn't seen them for a while. Now phones are great and we use them for anything and everything, we have phones capable of streaming movies and TV shows directly to us, we have phones that can play the newest and greatest games without even trying and our phones are basically the most important things to some people, people cannot live without their phone now and it is essential to their everyday routine whereas 15 years ago people could go days without using a handheld device.
Tablet PCs are no different, 1999 marks the year of the first “mainstream” tablet PC… it did not do very well and Microsoft was laughed at for trying to develop something that was a foreign thought to most people, this was a time when people thought that the Internet and computers in general would die out because no one had time to sit around and use a computer all day.
The first tablet created by them was a joke to many people, it was running a watered down version of Windows OS and it was assigned the duties of note taking and data collection tablets because of its very low power and weak performance.
11 years later, iPads entered the competition and Tablet PCs took off, while being more portable than its counterpart, it was still weak and had very little power to do anything of use, it could connect to the Internet and take notes and watch YouTube videos, this was all people needed for a tablet PC back when they first came around but now people need more.
2015 is a time when people are too lazy and want too much from their technology and tablet PCs and Phones show this perfectly, slowly, tablet PCs are replacing Laptops and Full size desktops because the latter is just not needed in our world, our phones and iPads can connect to social media, the Internet, they have Microsoft word and PowerPoint and google drive, they can do everything that our PCs can do and they can do other things better, all while still being convenient enough to put into a backpack or handbag. Tablet PCs are way more powerful and convenient than they used to be and this just shows it because more and more people are using them instead of full sized computers.