Optimising bitmaps for Dancing Stick Figures

These instructions are about how to optimise your bitmap-based stick figures, so that they run faster and have a smaller file-size. The instructions will only make sense if you have already created some bitmap-based stick figures yourself. Instructions on doing that are on the pages Stick Editor Instructions and Photo-based Figures.

The basic principles are listed below, in order of importance. There's further discussion of how to achieve each one, below. Note that a professional paint-program such as Photoshop will make all of this easier, and more fun.

  1. Non-rotated bitmaps are about ten times faster than rotated ones.
  2. Non-transparent bitmaps are about four times faster than transparent ones.
  3. 256-colour bitmaps (i.e. 8bpp indexed colour) are about twice as fast, and yield file-sizes about 80% smaller.
  4. Small bitmaps are much better for moving foreground parts. An image that is twice as big will be FOUR times slower.
  5. Big bitmaps are often better for non-rotated non-transparent backdrops. Windows can shrink a bitmap about twice as fast as it stretches it.

1. Non-rotated bitmaps

A rotated bitmap is about ten times slower to draw than a non-rotated one. (Also, rotated bitmaps aren't even supported on Win95/98/Me).

2. Non-transparent bitmaps

3. 256-colour bitmaps

4. Small bitmaps for moving parts

5. Big bitmaps for backdrops

This page was last updated by Lucian Wischik in January 2003. It relates to his Dancing Stick Figure visualization for Windows Media Player and Winamp. If you have any comments, please email him.