Bilinear Interpolation Of Texture Maps
by Tom Hammersley


Do you sometimes notice that when you texture map, the screen looks a little jaggy? Do your texture look pixellated? Well, there is a way around that. You filter your textures. In this file, I'll explain some of the more common techniques, and fast implementations of them.

Bilinear Interpolation

Bilinear interpolation (now on called 'bilerp' for short) is a process of filtering the surrounding texels, to smooth out any jaggies occuring between pixels, and giving the screen a smoother look. The basic calculation is as follows (from a post to usenet, author unknown):

double texture[N][M];  // 0 <= x < N, 0 <= y < M
double xReal;  // 0 <= xReal <= N-1
double yReal;  // 0 <= yReal <= M-1
int x0 = int(xReal), y0 = int(yReal);
double dx = xReal-x0, dy = yReal-y0, omdx = 1-dx, omdy = 1-dy;
double bilinear = omdx*omdy*texture[x0][y0] +
    omdx*dy*texture[x0][y0+1] +
    dx*omdy*texture[x0+1][y0] +

What we are effectively doing here is using the decimal, fractional portion of the texture co-ordinates to interpolate between 4 texels. Each of the weights are the areas adjacent to the texel. So, as the fractioanl 'u' texture co-ordinate increases, less weight is given to the texels on the left, and increasing weight is given to those on the right. A similar effect can be seen as we move vertically.

I found a simple way to speed it up. This one works in 256-colours, but its perfectly possible to adapt it to other modes I would imagine. First thing to do is build a table. This table will contain colour A mixed with colour B, in the ratio x*A + (1-x)*B. The table is built in a similar way to colour lookup tables, described elsewhere. With this table you can now find the mix of two colours, very quickly. Now for the filtering. The way I do it is quite simple. I use a filter shaped like this:


Where T is the current texel, and 1-2-3-4 are the surrounding texels. Next, I mix 1 with 3, and 2 with 4. Then I mix both the results together. Finally I mix that with T, and plot it to the screen. Works quite well in practice, and is quite speedy. You'll most likely need to write this in assembly; to take advantage of the EBX addressing trick described elsewhere. Maybe this isn't true bilerp texturing, but it works well. I actually tried approximating bilinear texturing in direct RGB mode by using a table. It worked, but it didn't look good. The image was very grainy, and bandy.


Mip-mapping is becoming an increasingly common trick nowadays. The name mip is derived from multum in parvo, many things in small places. It was invented by Williams, in 1983. The idea is that we construct a set of textures, each being 1/4 (half-width*half-height) the size of its parent, and filtering them down. Then, you select a texture, based on distance, or rather compression on the screen, and paint it to the screen. Very simply, pretty efficient. You'll need 1.3 times as much memory to do this. The advantage of this is it reduces aliasing on the textures, by mapping a smaller texture to a smaller polygon. You see you'll sometimes notice that if you have say a 256x256 texture, as it moves away from the viewer, it will begin to flicker and shake. This is because we're mapping a large texture to a small area, meaning we don't have much coherency in the texels we chose. For example, at frame i, we may choose texel (50, 20). However, at frame i+1, we may choose texel (100, 50). If that texels contains sufficiently different colour information to the previous one, you'll get that odd effect. We are jumping around texel co-ordinates too much, both damaging image quality, and also thrashing the cache.

However, on the PC, this gives us a big headache - 256x256 textures. We can either:

  1. Use smaller textures - 64x64, 32x32 etc, but lose speed of routine
  2. Scale textures up to 256x256, and use up lots more memory.
  3. Place multiple textures with a single 256x256 texture

(1) Would be the most tempting option, but would lose a little speed - do we make a set of routines for a given width texture? Do we have a pre-calculated Y offset table? Do we have an array of shift values, used to calculate the address? Tricky stuff.

Or we could go for (2). But there will be *very* high memory costs for this. Plus we will still be mapping a large texture to a small triangle, which will cause problems.

Perhaps 3? Well, we can still use a super-duper 256x256 ebx addressing mapper. But we'll be wasting space. Perhaps not much, but it'll soon add up. Plus it makes calculating co-ordinates perhaps a little tricker, but nothing a LUT can't solve.

I think the best solution is to leave this to hardware texture mappers, and use option 1. Yes, yes, I know not everyone has a 3D graphics card. I certainly don't. But I can't see any serious PC owner without one in 18 months when the market stabilizes, prices come down etc, Microsoft finally make D3D (perhaps not so likely as the first two) usable to coders.

Tri-linear Interpolation

This is a mix between the previous 2 techniques. The idea is we mix together a number of textures - the texture that is smaller than the current texture, the current texture, and the texture that is larger. We then filter these together, to produce a final image. The idea being that the viewer won't notice the sudden switch in mipmaps, instead giving a smooth blend as the texture is enlarged. This will be *very* slow in software though, because of coding complexity, lack of regs, (relatively) slow CPUs, caching problems..... This one is certainly best left to hardware.

Implementing Bi-Linear Texturing

Now that you have all this information, you can implement a bilinear texturing system. However, this can be a little tricky at first, so I'll just give you some pseudo code to get you start on it:

{All your normal setup stuff here etc, we're only interested in texturing part}
Get decimal u and decimal v. Assumed 16.16 fixed point texture index

du = (U & 0xFFFF) / 65536.0
dv = (V & 0xFFFF) / 65536.0
invdu = 1.0 - du
invdv = 1.0 - dv
Weight1 = invdu*invdv
Weight2 = invdu*dv
Weight3 = du*invdv
Weight4 = du*dv

r00 = Texture[V >> 16][U >> 16].Red
g00 = Texture[V >> 16][U >> 16].Green
b00 = Texture[V >> 16][U >> 16].Blue

r01 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][U >> 16].Red
g01 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][U >> 16].Green
b01 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][U >> 16].Blue

r10 = Texture[V >> 16][(U >> 16) + 1].Red
g10 = Texture[V >> 16][(U >> 16) + 1].Green
b10 = Texture[V >> 16][(U >> 16) + 1].Blue

r11 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][(U >> 16) + 1].Red
g11 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][(U >> 16) + 1].Green
b11 = Texture[(V >> 16) + 1][(U >> 16) + 1].Blue

Red = Weight1*r00 + Weight2*r01 + Weight3*r10 + Weight4*r11
Green = Weight1*g00 + Weight2*g01 + Weight3*g10 + Weight4*g11
Blue = Weight1*b00 + Weight2*b01 + Weight3*b10 + Weight4*b11
PutPixel(X, Y, Pack(Red, Green, Blue))

That is as good as a straight rip out of some code from my House project. (But obviously I don't use a putpixel function!).

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Date this article was posted to 10/19/1999
(Note that this date does not necessarily correspond to the date the article was written)

See Also:
Texture Mapping

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