Anisotopic filtering - An improvement on tri-linear filtering which produces a cleaner and more accurate effect, by compensating for the viewing angle as well as for blockiness.
Alpha blending - The altering of pixel colours to produce a transparency effect. This is useful in simulating the appearance of glass, water, smoke and fog.
Anti-aliasing - A method of reducing the blockiness of lines and curves. This is acheived by varying the intensities of the pixels along an edge so that they become less distinct and blur into the surrounding pixels.
Bi-linear Filtering - A double pass texture smoothing operation which alters adjacent pixel colours so that blockiness is replaced by smooth transitions between colours.
Bitmap - A bitmap is an exact pixel by pixel representation of an image. Bitmaps are applied to the surfaces of polygons in order to add detail to a 3D scene.
Camera - In order to determine how a 3D scene is viewed on the screen a computer must have an origin from which to represent the view. This point and direction is referred to as the camera.
Clipping - The removal of 3D data that is outside the currently viewed area. This reduces the load on the computer by a significant amount, as it allows the computer to concentrate only on what is needed, greatly improving performance.
Culling - Rather than having to draw objects and faces that are actually hidden from view, an intelligient 3D engine will remove these unneeded items from the equation which reduces the processor load.
Depth Cueing - As an object gets further away from a viewer it will appear duller than when it is up close. Depth Cueing simulates this by varying the colour intensity of an object.
Dithering - Making pixels adjacent to each other a similar colour. This allows for a smoother transition from one colour to another. If dithering is not used, colours will stand out noticeably making a grainy image.
Double Buffering - A method of improving the smoothness of animation. One buffer is used to store a completed image while the other buffer is used to store an image being worked on. When an image is completed, the buffers are swapped and the new image is displayed. This allows for a smoother transition between one frame and the next. Hence double buffering.
Fillrate - The speed at which a card can produce a given number of pixels in a given time. Measured in Millions of pixels per second.
Fogging - Fogging is a method of varying the clarity of objects dpending on how far away the object is from the viewer.
Gouraud shading - A method of making a flat polygon surface appear more rounded off. This is done by placing a polygon of a slightly different shade inside the existing polygon.
Mip-Mapping - Using different versions of the same texture to compensate for distance or size.
Polygon - A basic multi-point shape which forms the basis of all 3D objects and to which colour and textures and can be applied.
Pixel - The smallest element of any digital image.
S3TC - Stands for S3 Texture Compression and is currently only supported by S3 cards, hence the name. Texture Compression can reduce the size of a texture in memory by around 1/3, allowing for much larger textures to be used. This is a feature supported by Microsoft Direct X6 upwards.
Shading - Applying a colour to a polygon object.
Tri-Linear Filtering - A triple pass process that produces a less blurred appearance than the bi-linear method.
Z-buffer - A depth bit, used to store how 'deep' an object is in the scene.