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Assignment 1 - Grayscale Image Converter


Due: January 29



To gain experience with storing data in Java programs including using classes, multi-dimensional arrays, program parameters, and working in the UNIX environment.



For this program, you will write a program that converts images from full color into grayscale.


The PPM Image Format

Most image file formats write the image data in binary, and utilize compression in order to keep the file sizes small. Unfortunately, this makes reading them in quite difficult. In contrast, the PPM image format is textual and quite simple and easy to work with.

A PPM image file contains the following:

  1. A line containing "P3". This is a marker that identifies the file as being a PPM image.
  2. A line contains two integers, separated by a space. These are the width and the height of the image. You can assume that the width and height will both be 500.
  3. A line with one integer, the maximum color value for the image. This should be the value 255.
  4. The rest of the file is composed of $3 \times W \times H$ values which give the color data of the image. There is one set of three values for each pixel - each is an integer between 0 and 255. The first of these is the red component, the second is the green, and the third is the blue. Together these three values represent the color value for one pixel. The color values will be separated by whitespace.


Grayscale Conversion

To convert an image to grayscale, you can simply average the red, green and blue values for a given pixel, then write that value over the red, green and blue values.

For example, if a pixel has a red value of 250, a green value of 100, and a blue value of 10, it will be a bright orange color. If we wish to convert the color to grayscale, we average 250, 100 and 10 which gives us 120. If we set the red, green and blue values all to 120, we get a gray color roughly as bright as the orange.

If we apply this process to each of the pixels in the image, it will be grayscale.


Sample Images

Below are some sample images you can use to test your program:

Input Image PNG Version Expected Output PNG Version
eagle.ppmeagle.png eagle-gray.ppmeagle-gray.png
trinkle.ppmtrinkle.png trinkle-gray.ppmtrinkle-gray.png
snow.ppmsnow.png snow-gray.ppmsnow-gray.png


Program Details

  1. Your program should take the input file name as a program parameter (i.e. do not read it in with a Scanner).
  2. You will need to load a PPM image file into a 2D array. If the file is not found, print an error message and exit.
  3. You should create a class to represent a single pixel. It should include the red, green and blue color components as member data.
  4. You should store the image as a 2D array of these pixel objects.
  5. You will then need to write code to apply the grayscale conversion to the 2D array of color objects.
  6. You will then need to write the data back to a file named "grayscale.ppm". You must make sure that you follow the PPM image format exactly when writing the file so it can be viewed correctly!



In order to test your program's output, you will need to view the images. It will be easiest to first convert them from the PPM image format into a more common one, such as PNG. To do this on Linux, you can use the convert command:

$ convert grayscale.ppm grayscale.png

You can then do one of the following:

If you have trouble with any of these, please let me know. It is heavily recommended to start the assignment early so that you can be sure you can test your program!


Extra Credit

For extra credit, you can perform any other kind of image manipulation effect you wish. Examples might include flipping the image, lightening, darkening, applying Instagram-like filters etc. If you complete an extra credit effect, you should write the modified image to a file called "extra.ppm". You also must briefly describe the effect in your email submission.


General Requirements



You can view my solution here:




When you are done, submit your program by emailing your code to ifinlay@umw.edu.

Copyright © 2019 Ian Finlayson | Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.