3-D images start out as a simple shape called a wireframe.

2008 HowStuffWorks

You're probably reading this on the screen of a computer monitor -- a display that has two real dimensions, height and width. But when you look at a movie like "Toy Story II" or play a game like TombRaider, you see a window into a three-dimensional world. One of the truly amazing things about this window is that the world you see can be the world we live in, the world we will live in tomorrow, or a world that lives only in the minds of a movie’s or game's creators. And all of these worlds can appear on the same screen you use for writing a report or keeping track of a stock portfolio.

How does your computer trick your eyes into thinking that the flat screen extends deep into a series of rooms? How do game programmers convince you that you're seeing real characters move around in a real landscape? We will tell you about some of the visual tricks 3-D graphic designers use, and how hardware designers make the tricks happen so fast that they seem like a movie that reacts to your every move.