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Billboarding 2D text in 3D Space (SlimDX, C#, Direct3D9)

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I've been trying to render 2D text in a 3D space while billboarding towards my camera. I'm using Directx9 in C# with the SlimDX wrapper, which is pretty awesome, I must say.

So far the best solution I've come up with is using a RenderTarget to render the 2D text to a texture, then I use a sprite (SpriteFlags.Billboard is the best thing since sliced bread) to draw the texture with the correct matrix transformation and so on. It works great, but I can't figure out how to get at the Texture Coordinates to flip the texture vertically. Right now it's drawing upside down. If I was using a shader this would be ridiculously easy but the application is not using shaders (yet). I need a quicker solution than moving everything over to shaders.

I'm pretty new to SlimDX and therein lies my problem. Does anyone know how to get at the Texture Coordinate data inside a Sprite with SlimDX?

Please and thank you!


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Okay, to avoid any confusion and to help people answer my question, here is some code.

font = new SlimDX.Direct3D9.Font(device, new System.Drawing.Font(textObj.TextString.FontFamily, textObj.TextString.Height));
Rectangle stringRect = font.MeasureString(sprite, textObj.TextString.Text, DrawTextFormat.Left);
Texture texture = new Texture(device, stringRect.Width, stringRect.Height, 1, Usage.RenderTarget, Format.A8R8G8B8, Pool.Default);
RenderToSurface rts = new RenderToSurface(device, stringRect.Width, stringRect.Height, Format.A8R8G8B8, Format.D24X8);
rts.BeginScene(texture.GetSurfaceLevel(0), new Viewport(0, 0, stringRect.Width, stringRect.Height, 0f, 1f));
sprite.Begin(SpriteFlags.SortDepthFrontToBack | SpriteFlags.AlphaBlend);
font.DrawString(sprite, textObj.TextString.Text, 0, 0, textObj.TextString.Color.ToArgb());

textObj.Texture = texture;

So right now I'm trying to figure out how to get at the vertex data of the sprite before/while I draw it so I can flip the "v" texture coordinates because my floating text is upside down.

Please and Thank you!

P.S. I realize I'm not using powers of 2 for the width and height of my texture. Does anyone know some quick math to round up to the nearest power of 2?

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Sorry for the obvious bump, but I'm still stuck on this. We've got regression testing coming up and I really need a breakthrough on this so I can move this feature to Testing Ready.

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The documentation suggests that you need to call SetWorldViewLH or SetWorldViewRH on the sprite object if you're going to be using it for billboarding or sorting sprites. I imagine you could use that transformation matrix to perform the flip.

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Hi, This is probably way late for your regression testing but it is one of the most asked about and not well documented topics so I thought I would answer it here. The way I resolved this was to create a surface area the size of the text to be displayed and then copied it to a texture. You can then apply the texture to some geometry and use it like a regular texture. I pass mine to a pixel shader so that I can do some effects with it. So here are some code snips so you can see how it works.

// I define a font in order to get the texture dimensions in pixels

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]D3DXCreateFont(device,
size, // height of font
0, // average character width
w, // font weight
1, // mip levels
0, // italic attribute option
DEFAULT_CHARSET, // character set identifier
OUT_DEFAULT_PRECIS, // output precision
PROOF_QUALITY, // output quality
DEFAULT_PITCH|FF_MODERN, // fPitch and family
typeface, // typeface name

// Here's how you get the pixel width and height for the string:

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]HDC hdc = font->GetDC();
GetTextExtentPoint32(hdc, str, strlen(str), &sz);[/font]

// Here's the surface that the text will be drawn on
// notice that it uses the system mem pool so be carefull if you have like thousands of name plates being rendered
// if you are not threading memory shouldn't be a problem as this surface is freed at the end

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]device->CreateOffscreenPlainSurface(sz->cx,

// Here's the texture where the surface is copied to

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]D3DXCreateTexture(device,

// get the device context for the render target (the surface not the texture)

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]pRenderTarget->GetDC(&hRenderTarget);[/font]

// set up a log font

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]logfont.lfWidth = font->GetDesc()->Width;
logfont.lfHeight = font->GetDesc()->Height;
logfont.lfWeight = font->GetDesc()->Weight;
logfont.lfCharSet = font->GetDesc()->CharSet;
logfont.lfOutPrecision = font->GetDesc()->OutputPrecision;
logfont.lfQuality = font->GetDesc()->Quality;
logfont.lfPitchAndFamily = font->GetDesc()->PitchAndFamily;
strcpy(logfont.lfFaceName, font->GetDesc()->FaceName);[/font]

// create the log font

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]hFont = CreateFontIndirect(&logfont);[/font]

// use the font for the text to be drawn

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]SelectObject(hRenderTarget, hFont);
SetBkMode(hRenderTarget, TRANSPARENT);
SetBkMode(hRenderTarget, OPAQUE);
SetBkColor(hRenderTarget, RGB(0, 0, 0));
SetTextColor(hRenderTarget, RGB(255, 0, 0));[/font]

// draw the text to the render target (surface)

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]DrawText(hRenderTarget, str, -1, &rect, DT_LEFT|DT_NOCLIP|DT_SINGLELINE);[/font]

// release the surfaces device context

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]pRenderTarget->ReleaseDC(hRenderTarget);[/font]

// done with the log font

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]DeleteObject(hFont);[/font]

// rectangle for dimensions of the text

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]rect.left = 0;
rect.top = 0;
rect.bottom = sz->cy;
rect.right = sz->cx;[/font]

// this gets the surface area of the texture

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]pRenderTargetTexture->GetSurfaceLevel(0, &pRenderTargetTextureSurface);[/font]

// then use UpdateSurface to copy the drawn text surface to the texture's surface

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]device->UpdateSurface(pRenderTarget, &rect, pRenderTargetTextureSurface, &p);[/font]

// release the render surface because you don't need it anymore

[font=courier new,courier,monospace]if (pRenderTarget)
pRenderTarget = 0;

And that is all there is to making billboarded text with Directx9 and Windows. I do know that OGL has similar API's for setting up fonts, surfaces, and textures so it could be the same thought process. I don't know what the API's are in XNA C# so hope this helps to give some insight on what to do with that. Edited by codejockey

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