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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What is the difference between digital image processing and computer graphics?


Although digital image processing and computer graphics are similar in the sense that they rely heavily on ( advanced ) mathematics and that they work with computer imagery they are in essence quite different technologies. So, what is the difference between digital image processing and computer graphics?

Computer graphics creates new digital images from geometrical descriptions, such as 3D-object models or (scene-)graphs, developers of computer games, special effect programmers in the movie industry all use ( primarily ) computer graphics.

Example: Computer Graphics - Click to enlarge
Digital image processing strips an image down to its core: an array of numbers and can thus be manipulated in any way possible, i.e. rotating, resizing, morphing, etc.

 Example: Digital Image Processing - Click to enlarge 
In certain applications the two fields meet, for example when 3D models are (re-)created from image data. An interesting project is for example the creation of a 3D model showing the distribution of dark matter in the universe.

Both Digital Image Processing and Computer Graphics are playgrounds to show off your math skills. Most, if not all mathematics software have extensive support for computer graphics as well as digital image processing.


  1. A lot of digital image processing is to do with information theory and compression with the aim of transmitting the information in an error free and robust manner. This takes you into coding theory and Shannon's theory of information. Whereas I guess Computer Graphics concentrates mainly on geometry

  2. Chris, I think image compression and coding are ( huge ) fields by itself based on the mathematical disciplines you correctly mentioned. Digital Image Processing concerns the collection of algorithms tools like Adobe Photoshop are built upon. See also:

  3. Maths is basic for both Digital Image processing and Computer Graphics

  4. Thanks to a brilliant effort in publishing your article. One can be more informative as this. There are many things I can know only after reading your wonderful article.

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