Saturday, 13 October 2012

MipMaps and Textures

I've been tidying up and improving my code.  Mainly to get my level map files in to a single file and to use the content pipeline to load the maps in to the editor rather than having two sets of loading code.

In the process I have worked out how to create a texture in the content pipeline.

As I am now loading everything in the Content Pipeline I will no longer be using the code that creates MipMaps at run time.  Rather than forget how I did this, I thought I'd add the code here to remind me.

I won't go in to detail but a MipMap is simply a half size version of the main image stored in the same file. Typically several levels of ever decreasing images are stored in the same file.  They are used so that textures displayed at a distance look less pixelated.

If the above image did not use MipMaps then the distance would look grainy.

MipMaps At Run Time

This bit of code generates MipMaps at run time:

/// Create mipmaps for a texture
/// See:
/// Make sure this is only called from the main thread or 
/// when drawing is not already happening.
public static void GenerateMipMaps(
  GraphicsDevice graphicsDevice, 
  SpriteBatch spriteBatch, 
  ref Texture2D inOutImage)
  RenderTarget2D target = 
    new RenderTarget2D(
  spriteBatch.Draw(inOutImage, Vector2.Zero, Color.White);
  inOutImage = (Texture2D)target;

Textures In The Pipeline

The second bit of code creates images from a byte array in a content processor using the XNA Content Pipeline:

/// Create the texture image from the 
/// Color byte array, Red, Green, Blue, Alpha.
private Texture2DContent BuildTexture(
  byte[] bytes, 
  int sizeWide, 
  string uniqueAssetName)
    PixelBitmapContent<Color> bitmap = 
      new PixelBitmapContent<Color>(sizeWide, sizeWide);

    Texture2DContent texture = new Texture2DContent();
    texture.Name = uniqueAssetName;
    texture.Identity = new ContentIdentity();
    return texture;

When I was looking I found similar samples hard to find.  I hope the bits of code may be useful to others.

MipMaps In The Pipeline

The following is how I now create the mipmaps in the content pipeline while loading an image:

/// Load and convert an image to the desired format.
/// Returns the image suitable to use as the texture on the Landscape.
private Texture2DContent BuildLayerImage(
    ContentProcessorContext context, 
    string filepath)
    ExternalReference layerRef = 
        new ExternalReference(filepath);
    // Mipmaps required to avoid speckling effects and to avoid moiray patterns.
    // Premultipled alpha required so that the texture layers fade together. 
    OpaqueDataDictionary processorParams = new OpaqueDataDictionary();
    processorParams["ColorKeyColor"] = new Color(255, 0, 255, 255);
    processorParams["ColorKeyEnabled"] = false;
    processorParams["TextureFormat"] = TextureProcessorOutputFormat.DxtCompressed;
    processorParams["GenerateMipmaps"] = true;
    processorParams["ResizeToPowerOfTwo"] = false;
    processorParams["PremultiplyAlpha"] = true;

    // Texture2DContent does not have a default processor.  
    // Use TextureContent and cast to Texture2DContent
    // A processor is required to use the parameters specified.
    return (Texture2DContent)context.BuildAndLoadAsset(

That code can be called from within the processor using something similar to:

string filepath = Path.Combine(directory, filename);
Texture2DContent LayerImage = BuildLayerImage(context, filepath);

The above was worked out from the following forum and blog posts:

It also helps to know what the parameters are.  You can look them up from the xml file generated by the content pipeline:

The following being extracted from that:

    <Data Key="ColorKeyColor" Type="Framework:Color">FFFF00FF</Data>
    <Data Key="ColorKeyEnabled" Type="bool">true</Data>
    <Data Key="TextureFormat" Type="Processors:TextureProcessorOutputFormat">DxtCompressed</Data>
    <Data Key="GenerateMipmaps" Type="bool">true</Data>
    <Data Key="ResizeToPowerOfTwo" Type="bool">false</Data>
    <Data Key="PremultiplyAlpha" Type="bool">true</Data>

Already a Texture in the Pipeline

If you want to chain from one processor to another or do more than one thing to a texture you can use the ContentProcessorContext.Convert method to run another processor on the same object.  In the following example the input is an existing texture loaded elsewhere in the pipeline:

TextureContent output = 
    context.Convert<TextureContent, TextureContent>(

If you want to just add the mipmaps to an existing TextureContent image, as shown in the bitmap example earlier in this post, you can call the following method:

input.GenerateMipmaps( true );

The pipeline code is a bit harder to understand but is probably more useful.


Here's a discussion thread I found recently about mipmap coding in general:
And that came from here:

JCB 23 Sept 2013.