Gaming Graphical Effects Explained

Written by Tero Toivonen on Sat, Aug 4, 2012 8:37 PM

The latest GD technical article is about the various graphics techniques used within gaming and graphics engines.

These techniques range from Anti-aliasing, mipmapping, Dynamic Range, Bloom, Lens Flare, Anisotropic Filtering and others. Well worth a read...

Anti-Aliasing
Anti-aliasing (AA) is a technique used to remove the jagged edges from the screen. This is achieved by taking samples from the objects on the screen and calculating the desired outcome. The multiplier of AA tells how many samples are taken, for example AA 4x takes 4 samples from the surrounding pixels. The more samples are taken, the better the outcome.

AA comparison

Full-Scene Anti-Aliasing
Full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA), also known as super sampling anti-aliasing (SSAA), is a similar technique to AA but instead of taking samples from single objects, the samples are taken from the whole screen. This results in much better graphical quality but demands a lot of computational power.

MultiSample Anti-Aliasing
Multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA) is very similar to FSAA but the samples are taken only from the points that are in need of anti-aliasing. This results in a slightly lower graphical quality but it also requires less computing from the GPU.

Mipmapping
Mipmapping is a technique that uses a collection of pre-calculated images of the main texture to increase the rendering speed of that texture. The more images are used, the better the quality of the final texture and it also helps in reducing the aliasing artifacts.

Mipmap comparison

High Dynamic Range
High dynamic range (HDR) is a way to render a scene by using lighting calculations in a large dynamic range. This allows the details to be seen in very bright or dark areas without using a high contrast ratio.

HDR comparison

Bloom
Bloom is a 'watered-down' version of HDR that uses the lighting of a scene to create a sort of an anti-aliasing effect on objects that are in front of a light source. This is done by simply drawing the light slightly on top of the objects edges.

Bloom comparison

Lens flare
Lens flare is a graphical effect which aims at creating a realistic scene of diffracting lights in the human lens. This results in "rays" of light that are emitted from a light source.

Lens flare comparison

Tone mapping
Tone mapping is a technique that's used in HDR to map the colors otherwise unavailable due to the limits of a computer monitor. This is especially noticeable when a scene is using 'over-bright' colors that the monitor could not normally draw.

Tone mapping comparison

Ambient Occlusion
Ambient occlusion (AO) is a shading method that uses the the geometry of an object to create a realistic lighting and shadows. This is done by taking into account the attenuation of light due to occlusion.

Ambient occlusion comparison

Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) is a type of ambient occlusion developed by Crytek. In SSAO, the rendering is done in real-time and much more effectively then in basic AO since SSAO analyzes the depth buffer which is stored in every texture. Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion (HBAO) is an extension of SSAO which uses blur to enhance the lighting effects on an object.

Bilinear Filtering
Bilinear Filtering is a texture filtering method that uses bilinear interpolation on certain points on a texel to draw the textures more smoothly when they are displayed larger or smaller then they really are. Trilinear Filtering is an extension to this, using linear interpolation instead of bilinear.

Bilinear filtering comparison

Anisotropic Filtering
Anisotropic Filtering (AF) is another method to filter textures. AF is very similar to Bilinear and Trilinear Filtering but it uses the camera position to determine how to smooth and sharpen the textures. This allows the distant textures to look less blurry and it also eliminates the aliasing effects. The amount of AF determines how far the textures are sharpened. For example using AF 8x doubles the sharpness of textures when compared with AF 4x.

Anisotropic filtering comparison

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10:14 Sep-27-2013

The second last image is from Quake 2, is it? :D I like that game a lot.

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13:20 Aug-27-2013

Nice article, despite knowing all of these... it's not hard to guess how useful it can be to one who doesn't... :)

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15:08 Jul-23-2013

great article !

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13:58 Jul-24-2013

Cheers :D

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14:31 Jul-23-2013

Nice Article..

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13:58 Jul-24-2013

Thanks :)

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08:26 Jun-20-2013

Great blog Tero nicely explained.

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13:43 Jun-20-2013

Thank you :)

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15:15 Jun-20-2013

i should thank you cuz of you I gained this information.:D

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14:15 Apr-25-2013

Very helpful and detailed blog nice work!

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08:27 Apr-26-2013

Cheers :)

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10:48 Apr-14-2013

now I understand everything! thanks for the info!

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13:12 Apr-15-2013

No problem at all, anything for our lovely members ;)

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04:03 Apr-14-2013

thanks for info :D

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13:11 Apr-15-2013

No problem :D

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17:24 Apr-13-2013

cool !!

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00:32 Apr-13-2013

woah! this is nice ;D

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13:11 Apr-15-2013

Cheers ;)

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15:20 Apr-15-2013

You are one awesome dude! Totally badass!!!

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01:15 Apr-17-2013

Ahahahahhahaa, thanks :D

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17:01 Apr-12-2013

helpful :D Thnx

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13:11 Apr-15-2013

Thanks a lot :)

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13:57 Apr-11-2013

awesome ! i didn't really know what is mipmapping and AO until i see this :D

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12:21 Apr-12-2013

Cheers :D

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12:00 Mar-21-2013

WOOOW great!

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17:02 Mar-21-2013

Thanks :D

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10:23 Mar-21-2013

Thanks TERO! YOU'RE THE BEST! :)

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10:24 Mar-21-2013

Cheers :D

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20:21 Nov-16-2012

Woho! I understand now :)

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17:12 Mar-06-2013

I'm glad this was helpful :)

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23:18 Nov-11-2012

Thank you!

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17:12 Mar-06-2013

No problem :D

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17:56 Oct-13-2012

Very good work

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06:37 Nov-30-2012

Thanks :)

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20:11 Oct-12-2012

GREAT WORK

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06:37 Nov-30-2012

Cheers :)

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14:30 Aug-18-2012

Wow, this is the first time when i've heard of wath those graphics can do if they are set on ultra :D, thanks for the explanation
Edit:I see u have put the game starting picture with quake2, i guess you like that game :)

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20:01 Aug-18-2012

Quake 2 was an awesome game when it was released :D

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20:03 Aug-18-2012

Indeed :)

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11:49 Aug-19-2012

To let you know, that game was the first FPS i've played at the age of 6 :D. So yes, it was the best game at that time

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17:26 Aug-19-2012

You played the game at the age of 6?
Isn't it a bit brutal for a child? :D :D

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17:40 Aug-19-2012

Well ,that time i was so clever that i didn't activate the mouse freelook and i've finished the game on easy dificulty with keyboard only :) and my parents weren't worried about my future behaviours because they didn't really know wath a violent game can do to me but nowadays, they regret the day when they introduced me to the world of casual&hardcore gaming :)

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18:41 Aug-19-2012

:D :D
Yeah I didn't know how to aim with the mouse myself back then, we played the game with my friend, I used the keyboard and my friend aimed with the mouse ;)

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18:45 Aug-19-2012

Multiplayer Player one=Keyboard,Player two=mouse.;D

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20:07 Aug-19-2012

Ultimate multiplayer :D

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10:35 Aug-15-2012

finally, I found ENB info page:
check it out :Đ

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21:57 Aug-15-2012

Great, thanks :D

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22:01 Aug-15-2012

Good job i learnt something new :)

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08:32 Aug-16-2012

btw, I think this improves the game most of all graphical effects:Đ
*and it's very customizable:)

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15:16 Aug-16-2012

But can get messy if you are inexperienced ;D

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22:08 Aug-16-2012

but if you delete those (often) txo files, game runs fine anyway:)

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