David Szalai David Szalai - 1 year ago 111
C++ Question

Writing to .BMP - distorted image

I'd like to write a normal map to a .bmp file, so I've implemented a simple .bmp writer first:

void BITMAPLOADER::writeHeader(std::ofstream& out, int width, int height)
tWBFH.bfType = 0x4d42;
tWBFH.bfSize = 14 + 40 + (width*height*3);
tWBFH.bfReserved1 = 0;
tWBFH.bfReserved2 = 0;
tWBFH.bfOffBits = 14 + 40;

tW2BH.biSize = 40;
tW2BH.biWidth = width;
tW2BH.biHeight = height;
tW2BH.biPlanes = 1;
tW2BH.biBitCount = 24;
tW2BH.biCompression = 0;


bool TERRAINLOADER::makeNormalmap(unsigned int width, unsigned int height)
std::ofstream file;

return false;


for(int y = 0; y < height; y++)
for(int x = 0; x < width; x++)
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(255*x/height); //(unsigned char)((getHeight(float(x)/float(width),float(y)/float(height))));
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(0); //(unsigned char)((getHeight(float(x)/float(width),float(y)/float(height))));
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(0); //(unsigned char)((getHeight(float(x)/float(width),float(y)/float(height))));


return true;

function is from SO, from a solved,working post. (I've forgot the name of it)

is using bicubic interpolation, so I can write it to big resolution images, and it stays smooth. It will be also used for collision detection and now is used as a LOD factor for my clipmaps.

Now the problem is that this outputs a distorted image. The pictures will tell everything I think:

The expected/distorted result(s):

  • for the heightmap: I have the function that describes a mesh: getHeight(x,z). It gives back the correct results because I've tested it with shaders (by sending heights as vertex attribs) too. The image downloaded from internet:

Correct image

  • And with the y(x,z) function values written to a .BMP: (the commented out part of the code):

Lines are distorted

  • With a simple function:
    file << static_cast<unsigned char>(255*(float)x/height)

Lines are distorted

which should be a simple blend from black to white to the right.

I used an image size of 256 x 256, because I've read it should be multiple of 4. I CAN use libraries, but I'd like to solve this problem without one. So, what caused this distortion?

On the last image some lines are also colored, but they shouldn't be. This post is similar, but my heightmap is not distorted linearly as in this post: Image Distortion with Lock Bits

Another strange issue is when I don't make all colors the same, it get's distorted in colors too. For example set only the RED to the heights, and leave G and B 0, it became not only RED, but a noisy colored heightmap.

EDIT /comments/
If I understood them right, there's the size of the header, then comes my pixel data. Now before the pixel data there must be 4 * n bytes. So that padding mean after the header I put some more data that fills the place.

For example assuming (I will look up hot to get it exactly) my header is 55 bytes, then I should add 1 more byte to it because 55+1 = 56 and 4|56.


file << static_cast<unsigned char>('a');

for(int y = 1; y <= width; y++)
for(int x = 1; x <= height; x++)
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(x);
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(x);
file << static_cast<unsigned char>(x);

should be correct.

But I realized the real issue (as Jigsore commented). When I cast from
, it seems like a 1 digit number becomes 1 byte, 2 digits number 2, and 3 digits 3 bytes. Clamping the height to 3 digits works well, but the image is a bit whitey, because 'darkest' color becomes (100,100,100) instead of (0,0,0). Also, this is the cause of the non-regular distortion, because it depends on how many 'hills' or 'mountains' are there in one row. How can I solve this, and I hope the last problem? I don't want to compress the image to 100-256 range.;)

Answer Source

Open your file in binary mode.

Under Windows, if you open a file in the default text mode, it will write an extra 0x0d (Return) character after every 0x0a (Linefeed) that gets written out. The first time this happens it will change the colors of the following pixels, as the RGB order gets out of alignment. After it happens 3 times you'll be off by a full pixel.

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