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Basic Texturing Concepts

Early computer-generated 3-D images, although generally advanced for their time, tended to have a shiny plastic look. They lacked the types of markings—such as scuffs, cracks, fingerprints, and smudges—that give 3-D objects realistic visual complexity. In recent years, textures have gained popularity among developers as a tool for enhancing the realism of computer-generated 3-D images.

In its everyday use, the word texture refers to an object's smoothness or roughness. In computer graphics, however, a texture is a bitmap of pixel colors that give an object the appearance of texture.

Because Microsoft Direct3D textures are bitmaps, any bitmap can be applied to a Direct3D primitive. For instance, applications can create and manipulate objects that appear to have a wood grain pattern in them. Grass, dirt, and rocks can be applied to a set of 3-D primitives that form a hill. The result is a realistic-looking hillside. Textures also can be used to create effects such as signs along a road, rock strata in a cliff, or the appearance of marble on a floor.

In addition, Direct3D supports more advanced texturing techniques such as texture blending—with or without transparency—and light mapping.

If an application creates a hardware abstraction layer (HAL) device or a software device, it can use 8, 16, 24, 32, 64, or 128-bit textures.

Additional information is contained in the following topics.

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