Introduction to Graphics Libraries


2 types of Computer Graphics Software

  • Special-purpose packages
    • For nonprogrammers
    • To generate pictures, graphs or charts
    • Without worrying about the programming
  • General programming packages
    • Libraries and graphics functions
    • Typical functions: points, straight lines, polygons, spheres, ...
    • Programmable color values, view of scene, rotations, transformations, ...

Quick questions

... about Graphics Software

  • Could you list some special-purpose graphics packages?

  • Could you list some general programming packages?

Coordinates Representations

Graphics functions

  • Primitives (points, lines, curved lines, polygons, shapes, ...)
  • Attributes (color, style, area-filling patterns, ...)
  • Geometric transformations (size, position, orientation, ...)
  • Modeling transformations (individual object descriptions with local coordinates, ...)
  • Viewing transformations (projections, screen display, lighting, ...)
  • Input functions (control and process of data frow from input devices)

Libraries and APIs: Standards

  • Graphical Kernel System (GKS) - 1984
    • Initially, a 2-dimensional graphics package
  • Programmer’s Hierarchical Interactive Graphics System (PHIGS)
    • Hierarchical object modeling, color specifications, surface rendering, and picture manipulations
  • GL - Graphics Library (Silicon Graphics Inc.)
    • Used in the first graphics workstations
  • OpenGL - a hardware independent version of GL (1990)

Other Graphics Packages

OpenGL - Introduction

  • Computer Graphics with OpenGL by Hearn, Baker and Carithers
    • Chapter 2, sections 5

OpenGL - Install and Setup




Code Challenge: First program in OpenGL*

  • Go to and read about line drawing algorithms
  • Create a program with OpenGL that:
    • Given 2 points in the format (x, y),
    • develop a function myLine that will generate a list points that will represent a line
    • and then will draw them in the screen with the glVertex2i function
  • You can take a look on ./src/opengl/hello-OpenGL.cpp


World-coordinate reference frame

glMatrixMode (GL_PROJECTION);
glLoadIdentity ( );
gluOrtho2D (xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax);

Primitives - Points

glBegin (GL_POINTS);
  glVertex2i (50, 100);
  glVertex2i (75, 150);
  glVertex2i (100, 200);
glEnd ( );
  • Values can be in 2, 3 or 4 dimensions
  • Numerical data types can be i(integer), s(short), f(float) or d(double)
  • More at 3.3 section (book)

Primitives - Points (2/3)

  • Points as arrays
int point1 [ ] = {50, 100};
int point2 [ ] = {75, 150};
int point3 [ ] = {100, 200};
  • Plotting the 3 points
glBegin (GL_POINTS);
  glVertex2iv (point1);
  glVertex2iv (point2);
  glVertex2iv (point3);
glEnd ( );

Primitives - Points (3/3)

  • 3D points
glBegin (GL_POINTS);
  glVertex3f (-78.05, 909.72, 14.60);
  glVertex3f (261.91, -5200.67, 188.33);
glEnd ( );
  • You can also define a point a a C++ class or a structure (struct)
class wcPt2D {
  GLfloat x, y;

Primitives - Lines

glBegin (GL_LINES);        glBegin (GL_LINE_STRIP);        glBegin (GL_LINE_LOOP);
  glVertex2iv (p1);          glVertex2iv (p1);               glVertex2iv (p1);
  glVertex2iv (p2);          glVertex2iv (p2);               glVertex2iv (p2);
  glVertex2iv (p3);          glVertex2iv (p3);               glVertex2iv (p3);
  glVertex2iv (p4);          glVertex2iv (p4);               glVertex2iv (p4);
  glVertex2iv (p5);          glVertex2iv (p5);               glVertex2iv (p5);
glEnd ( );                 glEnd ( );                      glEnd ( );


Primitives - Curves

*This will be seen on next section

But, let's see the simplest way for doing curves aproximation: by using polygons.

Primitives - Fill-Area

  • An area that is filled with some solid color or pattern
  • Used to describe surfaces of solid objects
  • Fill regions are usually planar surfaces, mainly polygons

Primitives - attributes

  • Basically, it's about the way a primitive is to be displayed.
  • Some attribute parameters, such as color and size, determine the fundamental characteristics of a primitive.
  • More about it on Chapter 4 from the Book
    • Consider reading it because you'll need in the coming challenges

Primitives - point attributes

glPointSize (size);
glColor3f (1.0, 0.0, 0.0);
glBegin (GL_POINTS);
  glVertex2i (50, 100);
  glPointSize (2.0);
  glColor3f (0.0, 1.0, 0.0);
  glVertex2i (75, 150);
  glPointSize (3.0);
  glColor3f (0.0, 0.0, 1.0);
  glVertex2i (100, 200);
glEnd ( );

Primitives - line attributes

  • Line Width
glLineWidth (width);
  • Line style
glLineStipple (repeatFactor, pattern);

Primitives - curve attributes

Primitives - fill-area attributes

Primitives - character attributes

User Interface & Events

Logical classification of Input Devices

  • Locator - A device for specifying one coordinate position.
  • Stroke - A device for specifying a set of coordinate positions.
  • String - A device for specifying text input.
  • Valuator - A device for specifying a scalar value.
  • Choice - A device for selecting a menu option.
  • Pick - A device for selecting a component of a picture.

User Interface & Events - Input modes

  • In request mode, the application program initiates data entry. When input values are requested, processing is suspended until the required values are received.
  • In sample mode, the application program and input devices operate independently. Input devices may be operating at the same time that the program is processing other data.
  • In event mode, the input devices initiate data input to the application program. The program and the input devices again operate concurrently, but now the input devices deliver data to an input queue, also called an event queue.

User Interface & Events - Mouse callback example

Challenge: Polygons drawing

By using mousePtPlot.cpp and also polygon.cpp create a new polygons.cpp program with the following specs:

  • By default the program will start drawing a random-color filled pentagon (5 sides)
  • Then, for every left-button mouse click, the polygon will increase its sides by one and it will be filled with a new random color
  • The maximun number of sides is 12
  • Once your program reach the maximum number of sides, it will go back to the pentagon

Challenge: Polygons drawing - useful info

Chapters 3, 4 and 18 from the book can be very useful. Consider taking a look on those chapters

Resources and Credits

This material is genereated thanks to some extracts from following resources:

  • Computer Graphics with OpenGL (Chapters 2, 3, 4, 18) by Donald D. Hearn/M. Pauline Baker, Warren Carithers, 4th Edition


  • Obed N Muñoz Reynoso
    • Cloud Software Engineer
    • obed.n.munoz@gmail | tec |