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The Theory Behind The APIs

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Question to all professional graphics programmers from a eager newcomer: Its one thing to know the basics of an API like DirectX or OpenGL, however knowing the graphics theory that power the API and can be used to stretch the API to its fullest is another. To me it looks like this could be one of the key differences between the medioce and the kick arse. Is this true? Therefore should this graphics theory be learned now before I get too deep into an API so that I can see the big picture and therefore be a much better game/graphics programmer? If so, where''s a good place/book to start? Are books like Foley''s Computer Graphics Principles and Practice, Moller & Haines'' Real-Time Rendering and Watt''s 3D Computer Graphics appropriate? Thanks for your comments / suggestions. Toby

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quote:
Original post by tobymurray
Question to all professional graphics programmers from a eager newcomer:

Its one thing to know the basics of an API like DirectX or OpenGL, however knowing the graphics theory that power the API and can be used to stretch the API to its fullest is another.
To me it looks like this could be one of the key differences between the medioce and the kick arse.

Is this true?

Therefore should this graphics theory be learned now before I get too deep into an API so that I can see the big picture and therefore be a much better game/graphics programmer?

If so, where''s a good place/book to start? Are books like Foley''s Computer Graphics Principles and Practice, Moller & Haines'' Real-Time Rendering and Watt''s 3D Computer Graphics appropriate?

Thanks for your comments / suggestions.

Toby


Learning the theory behind graphics sure as heck won''t hurt. When you get into OpenGL and/or DirectX, you are going to need to know about transformation matrices, vector behavior, and all that good stuff. You could probably fake it, but as you rightly point out, you wouldn''t reach your full potential. API''s will come and go but the theory behind them will be transferable down the road.

I like the OpenGL "red book", but I don''t know if it is good for beginners. I haven''t read Foley''s book, but it is the most highly regarded from what I hear.

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To put my comments in context, I have a BSc in Mathematics and Physics, but I didn''t know anything about computer graphics theory when I started learning OGL and DirectX. I still don''t know alot about computer graphics theory ala Foley, van Dam, et al. I own this book, but I almost never look in it. That kind of knowledge never really turned out useful to me.

So computer graphics theory was almost completely useless to me. However, more practical things like stuff I found in OpenGL Game Programming, 3D Engine Design, OGL Red Book, and Game Programming Gems were really useful to me. These books taught me most of the theory I needed to know. The rest I filled in through the web. Foley just has so much stuff thats irrelevant to the game programmer. The only thing I really looked at in Foley were Octrees and BSPs.

Of course, I already familiar with matrices, vectors and physics(light, refraction, colors) stuff.

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Thanks all for your advice. With this in mind I''m in the mind to purchase one of these graphics theory books. I''ve heard everyone to say that Foley is the classic text but how relevant is this today with libraries such as D3DX etc?
On the other hand is Moller and Haines'' Real-Time Rendering a better (more modern and applicable) choice?
Does anyone know anything about Lengyel''s Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics - its a lot newer but I''ve not heard anything about it bar whats on Amazon.com.

I''m asking all this cos I live in Adelaide in South Australia, where books like these don''t grow on trees (they don''t even appear in book shops neither) so you gotta order them in, so its not like I can browse through them and make a good determination myself.

some good advice from some of the knowledgables out there would be (again) much appreciated.

Thanks all.
Toby

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Without a doubt, get Real-time Rendering. Its a wicked book with lots of info, it has a good accompanying website http://www.realtimerendering.com and the back of the book contains over 300 references (a lot of the available on the web).
And when I got stuck at the maths (I never paid attention in math class), I went to www.sosmath.com.

T

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