Mipmaps and GL_REPEAT Artifacts in OpenGL ES 2.

I am working on a new racing game and I encountered some odd artifacts in rendering the textures of the track.

I verified that the artifacts are not ZBuffer fighting related and I couldn’t tell what caused it.

The track has a repeating texture which means it use one texture and repeat it along the track segments.

Track Start Artifacts

Track Start Artifacts

Guard Rail Artifact

Guard Rail Artifact

In the first image notice the patch of asphalt just before the car. It has artifacts while the patch further away does not.

In the second image look at the guard rails.

This phenomena happened by using either a raw mipmapped texture or a compressed mipmapped texture(pvr on iOS).

However, it only happened on textures that used the GL_REPEAT flag and not on other mipmapped textures.

So what was it?

It turned out that there was an issue with calculating the level of the mipmap.

Notice on the rail guard image that the artifact happen at a specific band of depth range which is the transition between one mipmap level to a lower level.

Look at the UV mapping of the track on the bottom right window:

Long UV mapping

Long UV mapping

The UV mapping for this track stretch way beyond the U texture mapping coordinate .

If the UV coordinates repeat on the range of [0..1]x[0..1] then the mapping on this object reach a U coordinate of about 50.

This is done to make use of the repeating texture but it is also messing up with the OpenGL ES 2 internal calculation of the mipmap.

With large U coordinates I am guessing there is a floating point accuracy issue with the mipmap calculation. I don’t exactly know how the mipmap calculations are done but I assumed this is the cause of the artifacts.

Notice that in the first artifacts screenshots the car is at the beginning of the track, which means the first patch you see on the screenshot is actually the last patch on the track model as the track is cyclic.

The artifacts get worse the further you go on the UV mapping as the values are bigger and cause more floating point accuracy issues.

Since the texture is repeating it doesn’t matter if the UV mapping is repeating the same UV area.

I made a more compact UV mapping version of the same model:

Compact UV mapping

Compact UV mapping

Using this version of the mesh made all the artifacts disappear!

Start Fixed

Start Fixed

Guard Rail Fixed

Guard Rail Fixed

In conclusion:

If you verified that you don’t have ZBuffer issues.

If you see depth related artifacts on a specific range band of a texture with mipmaps.

And if the artifacts do not appear on small UV coordinates but become more severe the more the UV coordinates are away from [0..1]x[0..1], then there is a good chance you have a UV mapping mipmap related artifacts.

Solving this issue might be as simple as remapping the UVs to have values closer to [0..1].

There is more to say why this happens and what exactly are the floating point inaccuracies that happen in the mipmap calculation done by OpenGL but this is beyond the scope of this article.

I hope you find this article useful.