Texture Generation For 64k Intros



I'm writing this as a continuation to Ile/Aardbei's tutorial on texture generation. While his tutorial gives an outline of what to code, it didn't really explain things an awful lot. Also, the code for a texture generator is great using some basic OOP, the code is short, neat, easy to understand, quicker to use and even makes smaller textures. (I've coded two versions with and without OOP.) Ideally this article would be packed with pictures of textures, but maybe looking back at Ile's tutorial could help you there. I have included some of the source code to the generator, if you want more, you can email me but the stuff I have left out is to help you to learn as you'll see if you read the source code.

In this tutorial we'll work on code for a texture generator. Another tutorial is included which deals with texture editing and saving textures.

Before you invest time in this, try playing with Editor.exe, it's NOT user friendly, sorry. Try doing some sine plasmas, then sine distorting them, adding a random filter, smoothing, whirling, glassing, etc. You can get a nice cobble stone texture by generating a grey coloured random thingy smoothing it about 30 times, then glassing it with itself.

Setting Up The Framework For The Texture Generator

In the texture generator, I use "texture generator" to mean the whole process of creating a texture, we will always use 256x256x24bpp textures, even if we display them in 16 bpp or 15 bpp we work with them internally like that, that means we have 256 shades of red, green and blue for each pixel.

To declare a texture we must allocate memory for the array to hold it in, this can be a bit tiresome, so I use a data type called "RGB888", here's the class:

class RGBTriplet
   byte *R, *G, *B;

class RGB888
   RGBTriplet t;
   int Allocate();
   void Delete();

t.R, t.G and t.B (Texture Red/Green/Blue) are arrays of 256x256, together each entry of these three arrays makes one 24 bit (true colour) pixel. The constructor just calls the function Allocate() and the destructor just checks is the memory freed and if not it frees it. Allocate is there because it's handy for the inheritance we'll do shortly, and Delete is there so we can delete our memory at any time with the call of a function, and not just when the code exits (like it would if we just used a destructor).

Now our Generate class, this is where all our functions are stored for generation of each texture, here it is:

class Generate public : RGB888
   // variables here, for example
   char Operation; // you'll see below
   // memory allocation for the texture etc.
   // all our generation functions and filters are here.

For example to draw a sine plasma we would do this:

Generate ExampleTexture;
ExampleTexture.SinePlasma( parameters );

Take a glance at the source code to see how I use the constructors etc now. I use the term texture object to describe an object of the Generate class, above, ExampleTexture is a texture object.

It's often handy to preform one filter on a certain texture object or layer, and then another on the same layer, but without the stuff below being obliter ated or to add two layers together. So what we can do is define the current operation our texture write pixel function does, here it is:

  WritePixel( offset in texture, red, green, blue)

The function looks like this:

if(operation == '+') do additive stuff for rgb at this offset
if(operation == '*') do multiplicative stuff for rgb at this offset


So instead of us writing directly to a texture object, we use WritePixel to do it. This saves lots of code.

So we could do this:

Generate ExampleTexture;
ExampleTexture.SinePlasma( parameters );
ExampleTexture.SetOperation( '+' );
ExampleTexture.SinePlasma ( different parameters );

Now we have two sine plasmas added together.

(An important note is that I tend to interchange the terms Texture Object and layer, however, both are just arrays.)

Generator (i) Sine Plasma

We don't want quite the normal type of plasma here, we want a tileable plasma, which means interpolating sine and/or cosine "across" our texture. Lets see how to do this, our texture is 256x256, and suppose we want a full plot of sine (2 pi radians or 360 degrees). So we have something like this, to generate a sine table,

float SineDelta = 2 * PI / (float) PeriodInPixels, SineDelta = 0;

for(int i = 0; i < 256; i++, Value += SineDelta) SineTable[i] = sin(Value);

That would interpolate sine and store the values in a table, the PeriodInPixels variable is one defined by you, if you want sine to repeat every 128 pixels, then it'd be 128.

However, since sine is always in the range -1...+1 and since our pixel colour intensities range from 0...255, we will need to scale it. We'll do this by multipliying it by a coefficient, if we multiply by this coefficient it is then in the range -Coefficient...+Coefficient, so we will add on the coefficient so it is in the range 0...Coefficient * 2.

The user can define Coefficent, however, if you want the sine values to always be in the range of your pixel intensities you can just fix coefficient at 127.5.

To actually plot the plasma we generate a cosine table in the same way as above, and add the two together for each pixel, with the index in the cosine table being the X coordinate for this pixel, and the index in the sine table being Y.

If you have both tables generated with a coefficient of >= 127.5 you will get values which are greater than the maximum possible intensity of a pixel, so you divide the sum of the sine/cosine tables by two.

Finally, to determine the colour of the plasma you can do it in a number of ways, the way I favour is specifying a coefficient for the red, green and blue components of each pixel. So I can have varying colours of plasma, like lots of red, less green and even less blue. The pseudo-code for this generator is:

	   generate sine and cosine tables.
      for each x pixel in image
	for each y pixel in image
	   sine value = sinetable[x] + cosinetable[y]
	   t.R[this pixel] = FixRange(Rcoefficient * sine value)
	   t.G[this pixel] = FixRange(Gcoefficient * sine value)
	   t.B[this pixel] = FixRange(Bcoefficient * sine value)

Lovely eh? The FixRange function just saturates the operation, i.e. it puts the values in the range 0...255.

To see the power of this generator, run my texture editor (supplied in the source pack of this Hugi) and run sine plasma with the following parameters:

Period of sine = 128
Period of cosine = 128
Sine coefficient = 80
Cosine coefficient = 80
sine phase = 0
cosine phase = 0
r, g, b coefficients: 3, 2, 1

I also allow you to specify the phase of the sine wave, this is where you are on it, look -

			  .			.
		  .    .		 .    .
		.	 .	       .	 .
	      . 	   .	     .		   .
	    .		     .	   .		     .
	  .		       . .		       . .

That's meant to be a sine wave, you could specify a value that starts the plasma being generated at the first hump. In my generator you specify the phase in pixels, so if it was 128 and the period was 256 you would start half way along the plot of sine because

128/256 = 1/2
1/2 * 2 * Pi = Pi

Pretty simple.

A peek at the code will probably help you understand this, oh yeah, for real beginners a coefficient is a number you multiply a variable by. For example 3x, here 3 is the coefficient of x.

Generator (ii) Random

This is pretty simple, we assign each pixel in the image a random value within our colour range. So we set r, g and b to a random value between 0 and 255 (inclusive of course). In my random generator you can specify the block size if you give a block size of 1 you get single random pixels, if you specifiy a block size of 8 you get 32 random coloured 8x8 squares (because 256/8 = 32). You can expand this generator to take arguments of rgb "clamp" values so you only get random numbers bet ween 0 and your clamp values. I also allow the user to specify rgb "same" values, each value specifies which channel should be the same as which other channel, you can also zero a channel, this function ends up taking 7 parameters. The nature of this generator allows us to not bother with trying to make it tileable.

This kind of generator looks terrible on it's own, so usually we smooth it and blend it with something else. It is an excellent generator. You should glance at my source code to understand this.

Generator (iii) Shade Map

This is a generator I term "shade map" in my code, but really it just generates a circular gradiant of colours (some people call these env. maps, but that's totally inaccurate terminology under these circumstances) It's simple to generate, we specify an X and Y coordinate and a radius and some coefficients for its red, green and blue components, and then interpolate from brightest to darkest with respect to our radius. We use a standard distance formula to determine whether a point is inside the circle.

For example, try generating 8x8 random blocks in my generator with rgb sames at 0, 1 and 2 and rgb clamps at 255, 255 and 255, smooth this 25 times (using the FastSmooth option) then do a whirl at the centre (128, 128) of radius 128, and "whirls" at 1. Finally, change texture object (use previous/next) and generate a radius-128 shade map at (128, 128) with rgb coefficients at 1 1 1. Then use "shade" and specify the random/whirly texture, as a shade map, and use shade coefficients of 1, 1, 1. Look nice?

Distortions (i) and (ii) X- and Y-Sine Distortion

Right, that explanation of plasma was a longy, X and Y sine distortion are related. Instead of using some sum of sine values to get a colour, we use sine to push each line of the image either up or down. In X sine distortion we go through every Y line and push the points on the line a certain amount to the left, or pull them back a certain amount to the right (i.e. we distort them in the x axis) We do the reverse for Y sine distortion. The code is roughly the same as for the plasma, except simpler. We also make sure that if a coordinate specified by our sine distortion is off the edge of the texture to put in back on the other side of the texture, otherwise we could end up with a non-tileable texture, which is bad in most cases. So we do this:

In X sine distortion, go through each horizontal line in the texture, add a value of sine multiplied by a coefficient (specified by the user) to the offset of each horizontal line. The period is also specified by the user. Y sine distortion is the same except for the vertical lines.

Glance at the source code now to understand it fully.

Now to introduce you to the power of my generator, if you have an image, and you sine distort it and set the current operation of WritePixel to plus, minus etc, if you do plus for WritePixel's operation it looks cool, or minus, you get transparent curves of sine on the image and cool lighting effects.

Distortion (iii) Whirl

This one is really nice, to see what it looks like check out the Twirl picture in Ile's article on texture generation.

We can see easily from the picture that each point inside some radius is rotated by a certain amount based on its distance from the center of the image.

So, what we do is, interpolate the angle we are rotating from 0...2pi in radius steps, so the delta is (in coding syntax):

Angle = 2 * PI / Radius;

But, what we want is to go through each pixel and determine what rotation it should be at, so we find out what fraction of the radius it is away from the center of the image and then divide by that to find the angle for that pixel. I feel like I'm over-complicating this, it's simple. So for any pixel it is:

Angle = 2 * PI / (DistanceFromCenter / Radius);

That just works out what fraction of the total distance we are away from the centre and finds out what fraction of the total rotation (2pi) we are at based on the distance, then we rotate the pixel by that amount.

Glance at the source code to see how all this fits together.

That's all well and good, but we could specify more information about the whirl (twirl is such a girly word ;)). We firstly specify the radius of the whirl, then, what point to rotate about in the image, it doesn't have to be the center, then how many whirls to do. The final equation for the angle is:

Angle(i) = 2 pi / d(i) / r / w;

(I didn't feel like writing a coding style equation.)

Where: d is the distance of this pixel from the point we are rotating about w is the number of whirls we are performing.

We could also have divided the 2 pi by w.

I hope I didn't make this seem to complicated, it's really simple, even I figured it out by staring at a whirly picture in The GIMP.

Distortion (iv) Map Offseting

This is a cool distortion, we take a texture object and use the rgb intensities of another texture object to determine the rgb coordinates of the image, um, that's bad, here's some pseudo code:

	Texture[this pixel].R = Texture [ Map.R[this pixel] ]
   Texture[this pixel].G = Texture [ Map.G[this pixel] ]
   Texture[this pixel].B = Texture [ Map.B[this pixel] ]

You can divide the offsets determined by the Map variable by something to get different results. For example, try creating a sine plasma, then on another object, a shade map, then map distorting the sine plasma with the shade map. It looks cool.

Distortion (v) Glass

I can't express how good this is. I'm sure you've coded glass effects before, water is a glass effect with an animated glass map.

If you don't know how bump mapping works, I'll explain because I remember staring at those two magical lines of bump mappers utterly puzzled:

We store a height map, which contains the height of each point at a certain coordinate, these height maps can be anything, but usually smooth looking ones are best. The Bump mapping used in this glass effect computes the slope between two pixels of the height map to the XY (i.e. the Z=k) plane, and once the slope has been found the normal is computed and the lighting can be estimated in a number of ways. In standard bump routines you'll notice all this has been reduced to two lines or so, but you can at least of an over all idea of what is going on in the glass effect now, and don't be afraid to use my code, it's ok if you understand it partially or at least have my permission (which you do) and you give me a tiny credit.

Pixel Colour Operations (PCOs)

This section is all about filters and what I call "Pixel Colour Operations", meaning operations we carry out on the colours of pixels in our texture.

PCO (i) Fast Smoothing

This is called "fast smoothing" because you can characterise smoothing using an image filter, this is included because doing it with a general image filterer is *very* slow.

	for each pixel in the texture:
      take the average of above, below, left and right pixels.

That's it, to make it tileable there is some simple code in the source.

PCO (ii) Blending

First - alpha blending.

This is very intuitive and obvious, I even thought it up myself once. We use this to mix pixel colours of textures together, for example, if we wanted to try half of texture 1's pixel values with half of texture 2's pixel values, what would we do? something like this:

	for each pixel in textures
      mixed texture = (texture1 / 2) + (texture2 / 2)

Look at what we just did, it's simple to generalise it, if we want three quarters of texture1 and 1 quarter of texture2, what would we do? multiply texture1 by 0.75 and texture2 by 0.25. A pattern has emerged, if we enter a fraction, then one texture's pixel values should be multiplied by this and the other texture's by 1 minus it. This actually is extremely similar to the param -etric equation of a line. So if we wanted one fifth of texture1, we have to mix it with 4 fifths of texture2, that's how this is gonna work if we use texture1 * fraction + texture2 * (1 - fraction). Think of it as this: If we specify some fraction of the first texture's colours, like half, then we take the rest of "the fraction" for the other texture's colours.

We could define the blending a different way, for example with just two fractions of colour values, but alpha blending is handy because we never get over flows of pixel colours.

Alpha blending can be used in transparencies of textures over others textures and cool stuff like that, one application of these transparencies in realtime is crossfading.

The next type of blending is what I call saturated blending, instead of having a predefined blending function that never results in pixel colour overflows, we let the user define two numbers and we blend the textures like this:

texture1 * fraction1 + texture2 * fraction2

You need to take care of those overflows of course.

PCO (iii) Shading

This is another filter that increases the attractivness of a texture, we take on texture and use it to "shade" another texture. I use the term shade very loosely, it is only the definition of texture shading that I use, what I do is this:

	     for each pixel in texture1
	   texture[current pixel] = texture[current pixel] *
				    texture2[current pixel] / 256;

Where texture1 is the texture we are shading, and texture2 is the texture we are using to shade it. What that code actually does is work out what fraction of total brightness the texture we are using to shade is, and multiply by that, it's just a scheme I thought up, and I call it texture shading. :)

PCO (iv) Invert

This is very simple, we just reverse the bits of each pixel in the texture, by reverse I mean set bits of value 0 to 1 and 1 to 0. We can do this two ways, either using the NOT bitwise operation or by setting the pixel's rgb components (the pixel's value) to 255 minus its current value. Note also, if you change the current operation of WritePixel you can get all sorts of neat textures, try setting it to minus and then inverting and then uninverting with operation at equals.

PCO (v) Edge Detection

Right, this is one which I'm not quite sure what is called, I thought it up myself so I can't class it that well, all I know is that it can detect edges (boundaries between two regions of (different) colour) in an image.

Now for how it works, it is like an odd contrasty thing. We take the current pixel, find the absolute value of the difference between it and the pixel left of it, then set that pixel's colour to itself plus a number times the difference computed. This says basically, if there is a small difference make it bigger by a small amount, if there is a large difference make it bigger by a large amount. Quite simple, here's some pseudo-code,

for each pixel:
 difference = absolute value {colour of this pixel - colour of pixel to left}
 new colour of this pixel = colour of this pixel + difference * factor

"factor" is some number defined by the user (between 0 -> 20 is good).

To be slightly more general, we can specify two directions of edges to search highlight contrasts of, we specify an x and y direction (these are number of either -1 or +1) and add that onto the coordinates of the current pixel and do the same as above.


You can also have "filters" like copy etc, just to operate between two layers, note, if you call my copy filter, it'll use the current operation to put the two layers together, if you use plus, then it'll add them. Again, this saves code and texture storage space.

People tend not to realise the power of this system, we can get a type of contrast filter "for free" by setting the operation to plus and copying the current layer onto itself, or another way, we can shade the current layer (texture object) onto itself.


There are more filters we could have coded, but, this is enough in my opinion, at least to start with. I have excluded an explanation of fractal plasma, because my routine is a bit buggy, and I don't want to explain it unless I'm sure about most of it.


-> "paradox / vivid sp"