Chapter 4: Drawing pixels (SDL4FP)

This is an SDL 1.2 chapter. SDL 1.2 is obsolete since it has been replaced by SDL 2.0. Unless you have good reasons to stay here you may prefer to go for the modern SDL 2.0 :-).

Okay. Maybe you think, why to learn how to display pictures first and then learning about the more basic feature to draw single pixels to the screen? – In chapter 3 you learned beside displaying a picture how common SDL programs are strctured. Furthermore this chapter will get a little bit longer because several things have to explained more detailed to impart a fully understanding. In chapter 3 that was not necessary.

So here we go. First of all we have to know about the meaning of pixels. The physical screen consists of many small units. Every unit consists itself of three different coloured lights. These colours are red, green and blue. If you mix them (additive) you can get every colour. For example if you mix red and green you receive yellow. For three colours that can be mixed with each other there are eight combinations possible which lead to different colours (RGB, RG, RB, R, GB, G, B, all lights off). Some of you may say RGB (white) and all lights off (black) are no colours. That is right but doesn’t matter here and to keep simpliness I will talk of colours even if I talk of black and white.

Did you get confused? Your screen definitvly has more than eight colours, doesn’t it? The reason is, your screen isn’t just able to put on or off lights. Besides it is in position to differ the intensities of the lights. The more intensity levels you have the more colours you can display. The case that you have eight colours as discussed before means that you just have one intensity level. If your screen is in 8 bit mode every pixel on the screen has the possibility to display 2 power 8 colours. That are 256 different colours. Every of the three lights has therefore a certain amount of different intensity levels. There are the red and the green light with eight intensity levels each and the blue light with four intensity levels. If you have 16 bit mode you have 2 power 16 and that are 65536 colours. Each light therefore must have the appropriate amount of intensity levels.

All the examples will be made in 8 bit mode. If you want to write directly to the screen surface it is possibly necessary that you lock it. We work in software mode (SDL_SWSURFACE) so we can leave locking the screen surface. The screen surface is a RECORD of many different data types. To read or write pixels of or to a surface there is a typ marker called “pixels” which is of pointer type. It points at some pixel of the surface. The location gets allocated to a pointer of WORD, namely “pixellocation” we define.

It is unknown to us where to the surface it is pointing. This may not matter now; this we will treat later. Before we should allocate a colour to the pixel. Up to now we just have handed over the location to “pixellocation”. Yellow is the pixel colour we want to get. Red has to be 255, green has to be 255 and blue has to be 0 to get yellow. The function SDL_MAPRGB(pixel format, red, green, blue) is used to transform that input values into one longinteger (Uint32) code. The pixel format is given by the screen surface. We will use its pixel format by using screen^.format what contains the pixel format information of the screen surface. The calculated “colour code” is handed over to a new defined variable called “pixelcolor”.

So you have stored the location of the pixel to manipulate in variable pixellocation. You have stored the information of the colour you want to receive in pixelcolor. Eventually you have to allocate the pixel colour to the pointed pixel at the surface. That’s it. Of course we have to update the screen surface after the drawing.

If you look careful to the screen (when running program) you may see the pixel (left upper corner). After this success we want to see the pixel run along the screen! That will help you understand easily how the positioning of the pixel works, probably better as if I try to explain. We define a repeat-unitl loop what will delete old pixel (colour: black) and write a new one exaktly moved up by one pixel.

So the position which is pointed by pixels pointer is set by adding to or substratcing from the position before. As can be seen in the program the pixel position is increased by one and so is the value of where screen^.pixels pointer is pointing at.

If you create a surface of width and height of 200 pixels as in the example the true surface can be a little bit wider. This means you have a window of width and height of 200 pixels displayed but there is an additional unvisible piece of surface. Maybe its width is 210, so the moving pixel in the last example would restart a few lines before end of window. To solve problems cause by this pitch to the surface you can read it out. The data type pitch will allow you to (e.g. screen^.pitch).

This file contains the source code: chap4.pas (right click and “save as”)
This file is the executable: chap4.exe (right click and “save as”)

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