GPU Project 04 – Simple 3D object parser

So, last week we got a basic projection algorithm in place. We “rendered” the vertices of the cube into a bitmap, but we barely know got it see it working. We definitely need something more complicated to see it operating. One option is to just try to hard code a list of larger vertices that describe a more complex object, but doing that by hand is definitely cumbersome, inexact and prone to errors. Instead, I decided to rely on the vast world wide web and find several 3d objects that I could use. It turns out that there are millions of such objects in many, many websites, but all of these are in different formats. After some hunting, I setted on using a .obj format. These are the reasons:

  • Plain ASCII format: Can’t beat this when it comes to ease of parsing
  • No compression
  • Simple 3d object structure.
  • Vertexes and faces are separate.


First off, this is how a tetrahedron .obj file looks like:

# tetrahedron.obj 
g tetrahedron
v 1.00 1.00 1.00
v 2.00 1.00 1.00
v 1.00 2.00 1.00
v 1.00 1.00 2.00
f 1 3 2
f 1 4 3
f 1 2 4
f 2 3 4

Comments use #, vertices use v and faces use f. Can’t go any simpler than that! So, I upgraded my app to use a few classes to simplify things. I now have a point class for any set of 3 numbers that should go together:

public class Point
 public double x, y, z;
    public Point(double x, double y, double z)
       this.x = x;
       this.y = y;
       this.z = z;

And an object (for now) is simply a collection of points in 3d space:

public class Object
   public List<Point> vertexes;
   public Object()
     vertexes = new List<Point>();

And I made a little snippet to open and parse the file into the structure.

public void loadObj(string fileName, Point origin, double scale)
 Object obj = new Object();
 string line, vertex_string;
 System.IO.StreamReader file = new System.IO.StreamReader(fileName);
 while ((line = file.ReadLine()) != null)
   if (line.Length > 5)
     if (line.Substring(0, 2) == "v ") // Parse vertices
       vertex_string = line.Substring(2);
       string[] coordinates = vertex_string.Split(new char[] { ' ' }, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);
       double x = double.Parse(coordinates[0]);
       double y = double.Parse(coordinates[1]);
       double z = double.Parse(coordinates[2]);
       obj.vertexes.Add(new Point(x * scale - origin.x, -y * scale - origin.y, z * scale - origin.z));

This is the .obj that we just look at generates:

So, if it worked with the simplest of .obj files, will it work with something else? Let’s try it out with a teapot.obj file as well:

This is awesome! So the parser works, and we are able to actually “render” something on the bitmap. I think we are ready to move this into the HW.


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