Output Primitives Points and Lines and Line Drawing Algorithms

Points and Lines

Point plotting is accomplished by converting a single coordinate position furnished by an application program into appropriate operations for the output device. With a CRT monitor, for example, the electron beam is turned on to illuminate the screen phosphor at the selected location

Line drawing is accomplished by calculating intermediate positions along the line path between two specified end points positions. An output device is then directed to fill in these positions between the end points

Digital devices display a straight line segment by plotting discrete points between the two end points. Discrete coordinate positions along the line path are calculated from the equation of the line. For a raster video display, the line color (intensity) is then loaded into the frame buffer at the corresponding pixel coordinates. Reading from the frame buffer, the video controller then plots “the screen pixels”.

Pixel positions are referenced according to scan-line number and column number (pixel position across a scan line). Scan lines are numbered consecutively from 0, starting at the bottom of the screen; and pixel columns are numbered from 0, left to right across each scan line

Figure : Pixel Positions reference by scan line number and column number
To load an intensity value into the frame buffer at a position corresponding to column xalong scan line y,
                                                       setpixel (x, y)
To retrieve the current frame buffer intensity setting for a specified location we use a lowlevel function
                                                    getpixel (x, y)

Line Drawing Algorithms

  • Digital Differential Analyzer (DDA) Algorithm
  • Bresenham’s Line Algorithm
  • Parallel Line Algorithm

  line connects two points. It is a basic element in graphics. To draw a line, you need two points between which you can draw a line. In the following three algorithms, we refer the one point of line as X0,Y0X0,Y0 and the second point of line as X1,Y1X1,Y1.

DDA Algorithm

Digital Differential Analyzer (DDA) algorithm is the simple line generation algorithm which is explained step by step here.

Step 1 − Get the input of two end points (X0,Y0)(X0,Y0) and (X1,Y1)(X1,Y1).

Step 2 − Calculate the difference between two end points.

dx = X1 - X0
dy = Y1 - Y0

Step 3 − Based on the calculated difference in step-2, you need to identify the number of steps to put pixel. If dx > dy, then you need more steps in x coordinate; otherwise in y coordinate.

if (absolute(dx) > absolute(dy))
   Steps = absolute(dx);
   Steps = absolute(dy);

Step 4 − Calculate the increment in x coordinate and y coordinate.

Xincrement = dx / (float) steps;
Yincrement = dy / (float) steps;

Step 5 − Put the pixel by successfully incrementing x and y coordinates accordingly and complete the drawing of the line.

for(int v=0; v < Steps; v++)
   x = x + Xincrement;
   y = y + Yincrement;
   putpixel(Round(x), Round(y));

Bresenham’s Line Generation

The Bresenham algorithm is another incremental scan conversion algorithm. The big advantage of this algorithm is that, it uses only integer calculations. Moving across the x axis in unit intervals and at each step choose between two different y coordinates.

For example, as shown in the following illustration, from position (2, 3) you need to choose between (3, 3) and (3, 4). You would like the point that is closer to the original line.

Bresenham’s Line GenerationAt sample position Xk+1,Xk+1, the vertical separations from the mathematical line are labelled as dupperdupper and dlowerdlower.

dupper and dlowerFrom the above illustration, the y coordinate on the mathematical line at xk+1xk+1 is −

Y = m(XkXk+1) + b

So, dupperdupper and dlowerdlower are given as follows −





You can use these to make a simple decision about which pixel is closer to the mathematical line. This simple decision is based on the difference between the two pixel positions.


Let us substitute m with dy/dx where dx and dy are the differences between the end-points.


So, a decision parameter PkPk for the kth step along a line is given by −


The sign of the decision parameter PkPk is the same as that of dlowerdupperdlower−dupper.

If pkpk is negative, then choose the lower pixel, otherwise choose the upper pixel.

Remember, the coordinate changes occur along the x axis in unit steps, so you can do everything with integer calculations. At step k+1, the decision parameter is given as −


Subtracting pkpk from this we get −


But, xk+1xk+1 is the same as (xk)+1(xk)+1. So −


Where, Yk+1YkYk+1–Yk is either 0 or 1 depending on the sign of PkPk.

The first decision parameter p0p0 is evaluated at (x0,y0)(x0,y0) is given as −


Now, keeping in mind all the above points and calculations, here is the Bresenham algorithm for slope m < 1 −

Step 1 − Input the two end-points of line, storing the left end-point in (x0,y0)(x0,y0).

Step 2 − Plot the point (x0,y0)(x0,y0).

Step 3 − Calculate the constants dx, dy, 2dy, and (2dy – 2dx) and get the first value for the decision parameter as −


Step 4 − At each XkXk along the line, starting at k = 0, perform the following test −

If pkpk < 0, the next point to plot is (xk+1,yk)(xk+1,yk) and




Step 5 − Repeat step 4 (dx – 1) times.

For m > 1, find out whether you need to increment x while incrementing y each time.

After solving, the equation for decision parameter PkPk will be very similar, just the x and y in the equation gets interchanged.


Mid-Point Algorithm

Mid-point algorithm is due to Bresenham which was modified by Pitteway and Van Aken. Assume that you have already put the point P at (x, y) coordinate and the slope of the line is 0 ≤ k ≤ 1 as shown in the following illustration.

Now you need to decide whether to put the next point at E or N. This can be chosen by identifying the intersection point Q closest to the point N or E. If the intersection point Q is closest to the point N then N is considered as the next point; otherwise E.

Mid-Point AlgorithmTo determine that, first calculate the mid-point M(x+1, y + ½). If the intersection point Q of the line with the vertical line connecting E and N is below M, then take E as the next point; otherwise take N as the next point.

In order to check this, we need to consider the implicit equation −

F(x,y) = mx + b – y

For positive m at any given X,

  • If y is on the line, then F(x, y) = 0
  • If y is above the line, then F(x, y) < 0
  • If y is below the line, then F(x, y) > 0

Implicit Equation

Author: Deepak Chahar

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