Improving Anti-Aliasing

I was able to improve the antialiasing rasterizer significantly. So far I calculated the coverage on ‘intersection pixels’ by scanning each scanline 4 times (or any other power of 2 for that matter) and counting the intersections within each pixels. The coverage (delta) for each pixel is then calculated as count / max. For example, if we count 4 intersections in a pixel when we did 8 scans, then we have a coverage delta of 0.5 for that pixel.

So far so good. But it quickly turned out that this approach is flawed. Imagine for example a straight vertical line right through the middle of a pixel. The above calculation would result in the maximum number of intersections, and thus the coverage delta is 1.0 rather than the expected 0.5. Visually this looked like vertical edges are ‘cut off’, in contrast to the horizontal edges which are smooth.

Luckily this problem can be solved without any penalty. I only needed to account for the actual intersection point inside the pixel. So now I not only count the intersections, but also add up the ‘fractions’ that the intersections create. I can increase the accuracy by a factor of 16 (or more, but I reserve only 4 binary digits accuracy for the ‘horizonal’ coverage, and leave up to another 4 digits for the ‘vertical’ coverage). Of course, the actual math behind all that is slightly more complex than this, but you get the idea.

This makes the rasterizer good enough for rendering arbitrary shapes smoothly. Even TrueType glyphs can be rendered nicely with it. The following screenshot uses 4x scanning only with 16x horizontal resolution.

I proposed this rasterizer as possible replacement for the encumbered graphics rasterizer in OpenJDK. Let’s see if it turns out to be feasible. If yes, then it’s going to be interesting to solve the legal issues around it. I think the worst (and likely) case would be to do the copyright grantback dance with the FSF and provide the code to OpenJDK via the SCA. If not it’s going to be used anyway in the Escher AWT peers, in the JamaicaVM graphics backends and font rasterizer and hopefully soon in the Odonata toolkit (which has been proposed as new OpenJDK project, which is an exciting idea for itself).

I’m off now for two weeks, celebrating my birthday tomorrow and my marriage in a week, hurray! Must be my lucky year. Absolutely incredible so far. 😀

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