UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts

Visiting professor Machiko Kusahara
Spring Quarter 2002

Introduction to Digital Image Creation and Manipulation (C 102)

The aim of this course is to present an overall view of digital imaging technologies, with special emphasis on computer graphics.

Our daily lives are surrounded by digital images to such an extent that we don't always even recognize them anymore. Computer graphics have also become a basic feature of many applications of digital media technology, such as graphical user interfaces, Internet browsers, etc. In Japan, mobile phones have already become the most common medium for connecting to the Internet; this development has been greatly helped by the digital graphical features supported by the phones. As the lectures will demonstrate, computer graphics plays an important role on a larger field made possible by digital technology.
The impact of digital imaging technology has also brought changes to our society, and to the ways we see the world.

The lectures will be supported by an ample selection of visual examples ranging from important historical works to the latest achievements. The examples come from various fields, including design, art, entertainment, science, among others. The examples will show how computing is used in computer graphics, demonstrating also how artistic imagination has pushed the technical boundaries. Important current issues in computer science, such as the convergence of art and science, 2D and 3D, and creating by hand and by numbers, will also be discussed. Hands-on experiences and a basic understanding of 3D computer graphics will be achieved by personal experiments with the free software POVRAY.


There is a midterm assignment and a final assignment.
Midterm assignment will be an analysis of some of the computer graphics works shown at the class. (It is subject to change.)
The final assignment will be a combination of personal computer graphics image creation and an essay. Details will be given later. The final assignments will be presented to the class during the 10th week. Short comments and feedback by email will be asked occasionally, depending on the contents of the lecture.


The grading is based on the midterm assignment (25%), the final assignment (50%), and on the student's comments, feedback and active participation during the class meetings (25%).
More than two absences without the teacher's permission from the class meetings will have a negative impact on the overall grading. There will be a roll-call in the beginning of the each session. If the student arrives late, s/he should make sure that his/her name is included in the list by the end of the meeting.


A course reader will be available for purchase. A copy will be on reserve at Dickson Art Library. List of recommended additional readings will be distributed.

Class meetings:

Fridays between 9-12am at D|ma labs, lecture room 207


The T.A. is Ashok Sukumaran. You can meet him after the class meetings, or contact him by email:

Office Hours:

12-1pm on Friday, after the class, at 5264 (Dickson Art Center, 5th floor, Prof. Allen's office). You can also reach me by email,

Course outline:

Week 1: Introduction to computer graphics

What is the nature of computer graphics?
What does computer graphics mean in a wider sense?
What is the relationship between computer graphics in a narrower sense and other related fields?

What is the current situation of computer graphics and digital imaging ?
> What kind of computer graphics applications do we see in our everyday lives and on certain specific fields? (e.g. design, art, entertainment, science, etc.)
Visual examples: Latest examples of computer graphics images and works (images and videos)
Text to be distributed: "Animation, Art, and Technology in Context" from "The Art of 3-D Computer Animation and Imaging", second edition, by Isaac Victor Kerlow (John Willey & Sons, Inc. NY. 2000). This text will also referred for the lecture on week 3.

Week 2: The framework of computer graphics

What are the major categories in computer graphics and how can they be mapped within digital imaging technology? (e.g. 2D, 3D, still image, animation, simulation, CGI, image processing, etc.)
How are these elements related to each other, and to applications?
Visual examples: Typical examples of different elements in computer graphics (images and videos)

Week 3: History of computer graphics>

How did the notion of computer graphics develop in the history of computing?
How is computer graphics related to the notions of interactivity and user interface?
What are the roles of researchers and engineers? What are the roles of artists and designers?
What is the impact of computer graphics on art?
Visual examples: Landmarks in computer graphics history ( images and videos)

Week 4: Theories and technologies of computer graphics>

To understand how computer graphics works, ideas and technologies including the following terms will be explained with ample examples.
- Coordinate systems, pixels and voxels, raster and vector, etc.
- Hardware behind computer graphics<
- Modeling, rendering, and animation
- Lighting models
Visual examples: Relevant images and videos demonstrating these factors

Week 5: Theories and technologies of computer graphics (continued)

Two major theoretical approach in computer graphics; mimicing and simulating: Natural phenomena and human character representation, animation, behavior, robotics and ALIFE
Current issues in computer graphics
Visual examples: Major works that have changed the history of computer graphics, many of them realized by artists with programming skills, and by researchers within the art/entertainment community (images and videos)

Week 6: 3D computer graphics - How to do it?

Hands-on experience of 3D computer graphics
Visual examples: Images and animations using simple 3D computer graphics modeling with suitable and effective design strategies (images and videos)

Week 7: Computer animation and traditional animation

How can digital imaging technologies be used to create interesting animations in 2D, 3D and in different styles?
How are different elements of computer graphics (e.g. 2D, 3D, painting, simulation, etc.) combined, to create convergent imagery?
What is the relationship of digital animation to traditional experimental/commercial animation?
Visual examples: latest and historical computer animation, experimental animation, commercial animation including ANIME

Week 8: Computer graphics as an element in VR, MR and multimedia

How are computer graphics used in the latest digital applications to simulate or represent the environment?
What is the relationship between digital imaging technologies and other technologies dealing with our senses?
Visual examples: latest examples from VR and MR research, network projects, and other multimedia works

Week 9: Digital images, society, and the view of the world

How do digital image generation and manipulation technologies influence the way we see the world?
How do different cultures react to and use digital imaging technologies?
How have the possibilities of computer graphics influenced our daily lives particularly on the field of popular culture? (e.g. games, cell phone applications, advertisement)
What will be the major impact of digital imaging technologies in the near future?

Week 10: Presentation of final projects