There are some letters harder to illustrate and, to speak the truth, I thought I would never find any demo effect starting with a « Z ». 🙂 Well, behold zebra mapping ! Indeed some research had me find out that this effect is also called stencil mapping so I hope that coders will forgive me if I am confusing some names and effects…

As its name hints at, this effect is somehow related to mapping, in other words a filling method used with objects in 3D. But don’t make a mistake confusing it with either bumpmapping or environment mapping. 🙂

Like some other effects, I found very few examples of zebra mapping, even tho I (almost) see no reason why it has not become more popular. It appeared in the early  90s, around the same time as « classic » mapping. The difference lies in the motive used to fill in the 3D shape. It is actually filled with painted motives showing stripes most of the time but above all this texture remains still while the 3D object keeps moving or rotating. Have a look at the first screenshot right below :

Ok now, think that the cube is moving but not the motive…


This is indeed a pyramid but I can admit this is hardly recognizable. Would you see it move, it would be easier !

To speak the truth I have mixed feelings about this effect : on the one hand it undoubtedly adds something to what would otherwise be a plain 3D object but on the other hand this texture (understand « motive ») that remains still while the object moves goes against all logic and it will twist your brain into accepting something that just cannot be. I think that you really need to watch a video excerpt now to make an opinion by yourself (taken from 1993 Panic! demo by Chaos, as can be seen right above) :

Here comes a more striking example taken from 1993 Lethal Trash demo by Zeal. Don’t get me wrong here ! I think this looks stylish and nice but something in my mind refuses to accept what my eyes see and that unreal side of zebra mapping keeps tangling my brain cells. 🙂

And yet… And yet I keep liking this odd looking effect. See ? I definitely cannot make my mind about it ! 🙂 Anyway very few demos featured this oddity and soon enough it wouldn’t be found any more. However you can witness a very pleasant example in 1993 Ecstasy Part B demo by Inner Circuit Explorers as shown below :

Classy and awesome looking effect !

One democrew among others tho made it a point to have zebra mapping in most of their productions (don’t ask me why :)). I am writing about The Pixel Twins ! Indeed you can find this effect in at least 3 of their demos, namely 808 state (1991), The Stupendous demo (1991) and above all in Mental Hangover (1992).

A rotating cube taken from the 808 state. demo.


And another cube in the Stupendous Demo, (have a closer look as the cube merges with the background !).

In the end I think that zebra mapping is quite an uncommon effect. It can be disturbing or eye catching or even… both at the same time. Anyway it won’t leave you cold ! 🙂 I don’t think that so many demos lovers actually know about it, well, also it wasn’t featured very often either. All that is left are these few examples, here to tickle our brain. 🙂

Let’s now take a ride into the Ecstasy demo :

And there is no better place to end our trip than the Mental Hangover demo and its strong demonstration of zebra mapping :