Using vector based textures

Now to warn you folks, this post kind of goes on an education tangent, but it’s because it’s for you people who have used blender and image editors like photoshop and gimp, but want to understand some of the things I’m talking about. Skip to paragraph 4 if you just want to know my reasons to switch to vector imaging.

For those who haven’t heard of vector imaging, In mathematics a vector is a line going in a certain direction. Many apps like Adobe Flash have used this concept, try this out by going to some place that uses Adobe Flash based movies or games and zoom in on the image and it won’t distort. Trust me, even in 5 years vector imaging may replace the pixel based imaging on TV’s and computer screens. Look up ‘vector based video’ to see what I mean.

OK so why did I bring this up? Well here is a problem I noticed with pixel based images in games, it takes too much memory at distorts easily. Here’s an example. I made a file that was 5k x 5k pixels bmp file (which records every single pixel) png, and jpg images (which help decrease file size by mathematics) the bmp image is 71.5 megabytes and is full quality, the png on Max compression is 62.2 megabytes but the color is less saturated, the jpg image on Max compression (or quality level 0) is an astonishing 0.39365234 megabytes but the quality is clearly really bad. (if you want to try this out use gimp, go to filters > render > clouds > plasma. Save the files the way I did, image sizes my vary but be similar)

Now why do I think we should use vector imaging:

#1:Less data usage - This is a given, many things programmers tend to do is make it make something activate as quick as possible, make it small as possible, but still give immense quality. Even with hard drives getting to be a terabyte large, we still want as much stuff with taking as little amount of space possible. Vector imaging will have the same quality as a bmp image, but cut the size of the disk memory amount by half or more.

#2 (For 3d artists) Help with render distance - One main thing when rendering an image is the app has to calculate everything, even that model that uses a 5k x 5k bitmap, this slows the render down sadly. Games also have this problem because they have to make smaller and smaller textures to not overload the hardware, which in turn uses more disk space. This is painfully obvious when something like a game object can’t render the high rez texture in time. With vector imaging, we can use mathematic equations to duplicate and smooth out the vectors or decrease the amount of vectors, similar to the subsurface Catmul Clark modifier in blender. And in turn, not only does this help the rendering process for games and 3d movies, but also cuts disk memory usage.

#3 Higher quality Bumpmaps and normalmaps - Even though bumpmaps and normal maps are still new in the computer world. This would make things like bump maps way higher quality. This is kind of alongside of the render distance argument, but it’s also it’s own thing.

So that’s my thought, I don’t really see a downside to this other than a glitch with increasing or decreasing the amount of vectors, but that stuff happens.

I like the way you think. It’s my belief that anything that is not man made can be replicated perfectly using math. Take for instance the obvious Phi ratio and how it relates to sea shells, vines, sunflowers, compound eyes, galaxies. All of nature, which is a huge part of what we as 3d artists try to replicate, is a mathematical formula. When you throw man made stuff into the mix things get a bit messy, but still metals crystallize into an expected formation which can be shown mathematically. Molecules bond in plastics predictably. I see no reason that almost everything short of scratches and wear and tear couldn’t be procedurally created. Images textures have always felt like a cheat to me.

We had VecTex in 2.4 series and I never really used it.

Vector imaging will have the same quality as a bmp image

I have never seen that. Vectors always look, well…, like vectors. They, in no way, approach the look of photography.

But go ahead and pine away. Someone had a 2.5 version of VecTex converted perhaps you can pick up the banner and include it in the trunk.

This looks like this was discontinued… does anyone else have an addon but updated? Btw, it is somewhat true as of right now vectors aren’t on par with photography, the reason why is because of calculation detail in so little time. Interestingly though all what vector imageing consits of is a paint by numbers blueprint. Which is a lot more efficent than calculating thousands of little squares.

While I think you have a good point that it might be useful to have access to vector files as images, I don’t think you will find that it’s true that it will be faster. A case in point that might give you a clue is the use of procedurals (essentially vectors, because an image is described as math) vs, the use of bitmaps. The only advantage - and it’s a big one for GPU renderers - is that procedurals take less space in memory, just as vectors do. Otherwise I think you will find a huge performance loss in their use. A bitmap is just retrieving values from memory, and applying a transform. Vector data will have to be calculated, in addition to the transform - for every screen pixel. It’s not that simple but it kind of sums it up.