List here the most common splines found in game development, how many points the method needs to interpolate a curve, and how can you build a data type that allows you to get an interpolation of the curve points. Examples: Bezier curves, B-Splines, Cubic Splines, etc.

P.S.: I'm putting this as a community wiki so we can list all kinds of spline interpolation.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's a good question, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – jacmoe Aug 5 '10 at 16:02
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I vote for this question to be changed to apply to interpolation rather than specifically spline interpolation. This is what I thought the question was about, thus my out-of-place answer below. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricket Aug 5 '10 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Although your bilinear interpolation is a good answer, I think these kind of calculations could go in a related question, for example, a spline fit or approximations. Or maybe I'm wrong and these could also go here. \$\endgroup\$ – chiguire Aug 6 '10 at 2:59

The most simple case is a linear interpolation for a straight line:

(x0, y0) * ------------------------ * (x1, y1)

Say t is between [0, 1]:

function lerp((x0, y0), (x1, y1), t):
    return (x0+(x1-x0)*t, y0+(y1-y0)*t)

Catmull-Rom splines (a type of cubic hermite spline) can be quite useful, if you've got a set of points that you want to create a smooth path between (without defining any additional control points), such as camera paths

For all the maths, see:


If you're using D3DX, there's some handy functions for dealing with them (D3DXVec3CatmullRom)


Edit: Sorry, as Jason points out in the comment, the following answer is not about splines but about two-dimensional linear (or bilinear) interpolation. I am choosing not to delete it in case someone might find it informative.

I've created a simple 3D terrain and then wanted my character to walk across the terrain. So, to find the character's height at any point on the terrain, I used bilinear interpolation.

Here is the Java code I use for the bilinear interpolation:

 * Interpolates the value of a point in a two dimensional surface using bilinear spline interpolation.
 * The value is calculated using the position of the point and the values of the 4 surrounding points.
 * Note that the returned value can be more or less than any of the values of the surrounding points. 
 * @param p A 2x2 array containing the heights of the 4 surrounding points
 * @param x The horizontal position, between 0 and 1
 * @param y The vertical position, between 0 and 1
 * @return the interpolated height
private static float bilinearInterpolate (float[][] p, float x, float y) {
    return p[0][0]*(1.0f-x)*(1.0f-y) + p[1][0]*x*(1.0f-y) + p[0][1]*(1.0f-x)*y + p[1][1]*x*y;

 * Finds a 2-dimensional array of the heights of the four points that 
 * surround (x,y).
 * Uses the member variable "verts", an 2D array of Vertex objects which have
 * a member "height" that is the specific vertex's height.
private float[][] nearestFour(float x, float y) {
    int xf = (int) Math.floor(x);
    int yf = (int) Math.floor(y);

    if(xf < 0 || yf < 0 || xf > verts[0].length-2 || yf > verts.length-2) {
        // TODO do something better than just return 0s
        return new float[][]{
                {0.0f, 0.0f},
                {0.0f, 0.0f}
    } else {
        return new float[][]{
                {verts[yf][xf].height, verts[yf][xf+1].height},
                {verts[yf+1][xf].height, verts[yf+1][xf+1].height},

Note that bicubic interpolation might present smoother or more realistic interpolation across distant points; but I choose to go with bilinear because I have a dense grid, in an attempt to optimize (perhaps prematurely).

  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is about interpolation along a spline \$\endgroup\$ – Jason Kozak Aug 5 '10 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry; message added to top of answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricket Aug 5 '10 at 19:22

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