BMP graphics files explained
The BMP file was originated in 1991 when Microsoft had Windows 3.0 as the latest
Windows platform. BMP is a Microsoft Device Independent Bitmap file and can contain
images that are 1, 4, 8, or 24 bits/pixel. The 1-, 4- and 8-bit images have color maps
while the 24-bit images are direct color (RGB).
BMP files store the Lo byte first, i.e. they use Intel conventions. Each file contains
a file header, a bitmap header, a color map (not in 24-bit) and the image data. Some
BMP files can be compressed using the RLE scheme. (See my description on PCX files
for more info on RLE)
Offset Size Contents Meaning
00 02 "BM" Microsofts' BMP ID word
02 04 varies Size in bytes of the file
06 04 00,00 Reserved
10 04 varies Offset in file where image starts
14 04 40 Size of bitmap header
18 04 varies Width in pixels
22 04 varies Height in pixels
26 02 1 Number of image planes (only one)
28 02 varies Bits per pixel (1,4,8, or 24)
30 04 varies Compression type
34 04 varies Size of compressed image (or zero)
38 04 varies Horizontal Res. in pixels/meter
42 04 varies Vertical Res. in pixels/meter
46 04 varies Number of colors used
50 04 varies Number of 'important' colors
54 04* varies Color Map
* The length of the Color Map is 4 bytes plus the difference to
the end of the bitmap header.
The Color Map sizes are normally 2 ,16, or 256 entries, but can
be smaller if the image does not need a full set of colors. If the value at
offset 46 in the header above is nonzero, it contains the number of colors used,
which is also the number of entries in the color map. If the entry is zero then
the color map is full size.
Please Note: Because the VGA provides only 64 levels of R,G, and B, the Color Map values must be divided by four (shr 2 times) when reading the BMP file for VGA display.
If the display device can not display all the colors available in the image, then
BMP files put the 'important' color values at the front of the color map for better
Color map entries are four bytes each:
00 Blue value
01 Green value
02 Red value
03 zero (reserved)
The bitmap image follows the color map. If the data is a 4- or an 8-bit image then
it can be compressed using the RLE compression scheme.
Bits are stored a row at a time. Each row is padded to a 4-byte boundary with zero
bytes. Rows are stored in order from the bottom of the image to the top.
Monochrome images (1-bit images): Each pixel is a single bit. The hi-order
bit is the leftmost pixel.
Uncompressed 16 color images (4-bit images): These images are packed two
pixels per byte, with the hi-nibble being the leftmost pixel.
Compressed 16 color images (4-bit images): These images are compressed using
the RLE encoding scheme and consist of a sequence of groups. There are 3 kinds of groups:
repeating, literal, and special.
A repeating group is 2 bytes, with the first byte as a pixel count and the second byte
is a pair of pixels.
For example: 05h 16h translates to five pixels long of 01h 06h 01h 06h 01h. Notice you don't
use the lo-order of the pixels byte if the count is odd.
A literal group is a zero byte, a byte with the pixel count, and the literal pixels.
The pixel count must be at least 3. The literal pixels are padded out with zeros to an even
number of bytes.
For example: 00h 05h 12h 34h 50h 00h translates to 01h 02h 03h 04h 05.
A special sequence of 00h 00h represents the end of a row. The special sequence
of 00h 01h represents the end of the bitmap. The special sequence 00h 02h xx yy represents
a position delta, saying to continue the image xx pixels to the right and yy pixels down.
Uncompressed 256 color images (8-bit images): These images are packed one pixel to
a byte, with each row padded to a 4 byte boundary.
Compressed 256 color images (8-bit images): These images are packed using the RLE
encoding scheme, consisting of a sequence of groups. There are three kinds of groups. (See
compressed 4-bit color scheme above)
24-bits/pixel scheme consist of three bytes per pixel. The first byte being BLUE,
the second GREEN, and the third being RED. Each row is zero padded to a 4-byte boundary.
If you have any other questions or see a mistake that I made, please e-mail me and I will
do my best to help out.