Software realizations of computationally-demanding image processing tasks (e.g., image transforms and convolution) do not currently provide graceful degradation when their clock-cycles budgets are reduced, e.g., when delay deadlines are imposed in a multitasking environment to meet throughput requirements. This is an important obstacle in the quest for full utilization of modern programmable platforms' capabilities since worst-case considerations must be in place for reasonable quality of results. In this paper, we propose (and make available online) platform-independent software designs performing bitplane-based computation combined with an incremental packing framework in order to realize block transforms, 2-D convolution and frame-by-frame block matching. The proposed framework realizes incremental computation: progressive processing of input-source increments improves the output quality monotonically. Comparisons with the equivalent nonincremental software realization of each algorithm reveal that, for the same precision of the result, the proposed approach can lead to comparable or faster execution, while it can be arbitrarily terminated and provide the result up to the computed precision. Application examples with region-of-interest based incremental computation, task scheduling per frame, and energy-distortion scalability verify that our proposal provides significant performance scalability with graceful degradation.