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14.1 Introduction

Texture mapping is exactly what it says. As an application developer, you are defining a mapping from 3D coordinates into texture coordinates. Usually this equates to defining a coordinate mapping to go from a vertex’s 3D coordinates to a 2D pixel location within an image.

Defining coordinate mappings sounds pretty complicated, but in practice it can be as simple as saying the vertex located at position (1,1,1) should use the pixel located at (20,30) in the image named texture.jpg.

Looking at figure 14.2 it should be obvious that the renderer does some pretty clever stuff when it maps a texture onto a geometric model. The texture used was 64 x 64 pixels in size, but when it was rendered, the faces of each cube were about 200 x 200 pixels. So, the renderer had to resize the texture image on the fly to fit the face of each cube. Even tougher, you can see that what started out as a square texture image turned into a parallelogram as perspective and rotation were applied to the cube.


Figure 14.2 A texture−mapped cube (left); the texture image, actual size (middle); and the how the texture image was mapped onto one of the faces of the cube (right)


Figure 14.3 Texture coordinates range from 0.0 to 1.0 with the origin at the bottom left of the texture image. The horizontal dimension is commonly called s and the vertical dimension is called t

You should also be able to see that as the texture has been enlarged it has become pixilated. This is because several eventual screen pixels are all mapped to the same pixel within the texture image. This is a common problem with texture mapping and is visible in texture−mapped games such as Quake, as well.

To discuss the details of mapping between 3D vertex coordinates and texture pixels, some terminology must be introduced. Figure 14.3 illustrates texture coordinates. Instead of mapping to pixel locations directly (which would be relative to the size of the texture image), we use texture coordinates. Texture coordinates range from 0.0 to 1.0 in each dimension, regardless of the size of the image. We know therefore that the coordinates s = 0.5, t = 0.25 are always located halfway across the image and three−quarters of the way down from the top of the image. Note that the origin of the texture coordinate system is at the bottom left of the image, in contrast to many windowing systems that define the origin at the top left.

A pixel within an image that is used for texture mapping is often referred to as a texel.

There are essentially two types of texture mapping, static and dynamic. Defining a static mapping is the most commonly used and easiest form of texture mapping and is the subject of section 14.1.1.


14.1.1 Static mapping using per−vertex texture coordinates
14.1.2 Dynamic mapping using TexCoordGeneration