Detecting edge pixels with Marching Squares Algorithm
(Image ruthlessly stolen from wikipedia without remorse)
This does more or less what my "outline point extraction" algorithm was doing, except, with a grid of 4 pixels instead of 9. I nearly choked at the thought of how wasteful my previous approach was. So, I promptly implemented the algorithm in as3, and tested out the speed difference.
Indeed, Marching Squares pwns and humiliates my older implementation, it's 2-3 times faster. This due to the fact that the source bitmap data does not need to be doubled in size, and naturally less pixels require inspection.
However, there are two gaping problems with this 4 pixel grid approach.
1) 'Single pixel vertical and horizontal lines' result in duplicate points
Although the 4grid handles such "single pixel lines" like a champion, it "scans" those points twice (see the line at the bottom of the wikipedia image above). If the goal is to (let's say) extrude this shape, problems just might ensue. So my implementation allows for a parameter which returns only unique points.
2) There is a special case which causes an eternal march. Poor squares.
If you consider the grid variations on that wikipedia page image, the squares march right into our lonely pixel, and keep doing circles Ad infinitum.
The best solution I could come up with, and please don't hesitate to share a better one, was to set a MAX_POINTS value. If the number of discovered points exceeds this, then the algorithm stops, and hands the task over to... wait for it... my old approach I refactored this into a class called MarchingSquares9Grid.as . This one has no duplicate pixels by the way, thanks to the double sizing of the source bitmap.
Click the images below to see the algos in action:
On my machine the MarchingSquares runs around 50 fps, but dips whenever the above mentioned exception occurs. The point is that you'll always get the pixel outline, in most cases very fast, in fringe cases a bit slower.
I wrote a MarchingSquares class, which can be used as follows:
If speed isn't an issue, use :
Just two considerations:
- I couldn't be arsed to make the MarchingSquares9Grid run counter clockwise, so there's a method that reverses your Vector if that tickles your perversions.
- Both of these will require at least a one pixel padding of transparent pixels in your source bitmap. This can be introduced with some bitmapdata magic.
Thanks again Rothrock!