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Commodore VIC-20 graphics made easy

Updated 18 October 2021

I can't believe how easy it is to create graphics on the Commodore VIC20. I have created an easy lesson that will have you creating VIC20 graphics quickly. The VIC20 is a simple machine by modern standards. I used a commonly available VIC20 emulator to develop my graphics. Many people will want to use their TheC64 in VIC20 mode.

Commodore VIC20 graphics tutorial
image  example of the Commodore VIC20 graphics

Commodore VIC-20 graphics tutorial

I confess that I've always had a fear of programming graphics on the VIC20. I used to have a working knowledge of the procedural BASIC programming. It was the details on the VIC20 memory mapping that always escaped my ability. For some reason, people kept the dark arts of graphics programming a secret. They would use confusing addresses and tricky sequencing to befuddle the neophyte. Not any more. It is easy.

There are only 4 basic steps that you need to know to create your own graphical images. It's best to start simple and then create your own impressions. Possible the most difficult aspect of this style of programming is the use of the POKE command. Don't panic. POKE means insert number into this memory address.

Commodore VIC-20
Color Codes

Commodore VIC-20 graphics examples

10 POKE7680,65:POKE(7680+30720,0)
Prints a ♠ in color at the top left corner of the screen
10 POKE7701,83:POKE(7701+30720,2)
Prints a ♥ in color at the top right corner of the screen
10 POKE7910,90:POKE(7910+30720,2)
20 POKE7911,90:POKE(7911+30720,4)
30 POKE7932,90:POKE(7932+30720,5)
40 POKE7933,90:POKE(7933+30720,6)
Prints two rows of two ♦ in four different colors in the middle of the screen

Commodore VIC-20 character display locations

Commodore VIC20 character display location map
image  Commodore VIC20 character display location map

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