Monday, March 21, 2011

Bézier curve

A Bézier curve is a parametric curve frequently used in computer graphics and related fields. Generalizations of Bézier curves to higher dimensions are called Bézier surfaces, of which the Bézier triangle is a special case.

In vector graphics, Bézier curves are used to model smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely. "Paths," as they are commonly referred to in image manipulation programs are combinations of linked Bézier curves. Paths are not bound by the limits of rasterized images and are intuitive to modify. Bézier curves are also used in animation as a tool to control motion.

Bézier curves are also used in the time domain, particularly in animation and interface design, e.g., a Bézier curve can be used to specify the velocity over time of an object such as an icon moving from A to B, rather than simply moving at a fixed number of pixels per step. When animators or interface designers talk about the "physics" or "feel" of an operation, they may be referring to the particular Bézier curve used to control the velocity over time of the move in question.

Bézier curves were widely publicized in 1962 by the French engineer Pierre Bézier, who used them to design automobile bodies. The curves were first developed in 1959 by Paul de Casteljau using de Casteljau's algorithm, a numerically stable method to evaluate Bézier curves.

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