This content has moved - please find it at

Although these pages remain accessible, some content may not display correctly in future as the new blog evolves.


Creating an image viewer in C# Part 5: Selecting part of an image

Part 4 of this series (by far the most popular article on was supposed to be the end, but recently I was asked if was possible to select part of an image for saving it to a file. After implementing the new functionality and lacking ideas for a new post on other matters, here we are with a new part!

The demonstration program showing the selection functionality

Getting Started

If you aren't already familiar with the ImageBox component, you may wish to view parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the original background and specification of the control.

First thing is to add some new properties, along with backing events. These are:

  • SelectionMode - Determines if selection is available within the control
  • SelectionColor - Primary color for drawing the selection region
  • SelectionRegion - The currently selected region.
  • LimitSelectionToImage - This property allows you to control if the selection region can be drawn outside the image boundaries.
  • IsSelecting - This property returns if a selection operation is in progress

If the SelectionMode property is set, then the AutoPan and AllowClickZoom properties will both be set to false to avoid conflicting actions.

We also need a couple of new events not directly tried to properties.

  • Selecting - Occurs when the user starts to draw a selection region and can be used to cancel the action.
  • Selected - Occurs when the user completes drawing a selection region

These events are called when setting the IsSelecting property:

[Browsable(false), DesignerSerializationVisibility(DesignerSerializationVisibility.Hidden)]
public virtual bool IsSelecting
  get { return _isSelecting; }
  protected set
    if (_isSelecting != value)
      CancelEventArgs args;

      args = new CancelEventArgs();

      if (value)

      if (!args.Cancel)
        _isSelecting = value;

Drawing the selection highlight

Before adding support for defining the selection region, we'll add the code to draw it - that way we'll know the code to define the region works! To do this, we'll modify the existing OnPaint override, and insert a call to a new method named DrawSelection:

protected override void OnPaint(PaintEventArgs e)
  /* Snipped existing code for brevity */

  // draw the selection
  if (this.SelectionRegion != Rectangle.Empty)


The DrawSelection method itself is very straightforward. First it fills the region with a translucent variant of the SelectionColor property, then draws a solid outline around this. A clip region is also applied to avoid overwriting the controls borders.

As with most of the methods and properties in the ImageBox control, it has been marked as virtual to allow you to override it and provide your own drawing implementation if required, without needing to redraw all of the control.

protected virtual void DrawSelection(PaintEventArgs e)
  RectangleF rect;


  rect = this.GetOffsetRectangle(this.SelectionRegion);

  using (Brush brush = new SolidBrush(Color.FromArgb(128, this.SelectionColor)))
    e.Graphics.FillRectangle(brush, rect);

  using (Pen pen = new Pen(this.SelectionColor))
    e.Graphics.DrawRectangle(pen, rect.X, rect.Y, rect.Width, rect.Height);


The GetOffsetRectangle method will be described a little further down this article.

Defining the selection region

Currently the selection region can only be defined via the mouse; there is no keyboard support. To do this, we'll do the usual overriding of MouseDown, MouseMove and MouseUp

protected override void OnMouseDown(MouseEventArgs e)

  /* Snipped existing code for brevity */

  if (e.Button == MouseButtons.Left && this.SelectionMode != ImageBoxSelectionMode.None)
    this.SelectionRegion = Rectangle.Empty;

protected override void OnMouseMove(MouseEventArgs e)

  if (e.Button == MouseButtons.Left)
    /* Snipped existing code for brevity */

protected override void OnMouseUp(MouseEventArgs e)

  if (this.IsPanning)
    this.IsPanning = false;

  if (this.IsSelecting)
    this.IsSelecting = false;

OnMouseDown and OnMouseUp aren't being used for much in this case, the former is used to clear an existing selection region, the later to notify that the selection is no longer being defined. OnMouseMove calls the ProcessSelection method which is where all the action happens.

protected virtual void ProcessSelection(MouseEventArgs e)
  if (this.SelectionMode != ImageBoxSelectionMode.None)
    if (!this.IsSelecting)
      _startMousePosition = e.Location;
      this.IsSelecting = true;

First, we check to make sure a valid selection mode is set. Then, if a selection operation hasn't been initiated, we attempt to set the IsSelecting property. As noted above, this property will call the Selecting event allowing the selection to be cancelled if required by the implementing application.

    if (this.IsSelecting)
      float x;
      float y;
      float w;
      float h;
      Point imageOffset;

      imageOffset = this.GetImageViewPort().Location;

      if (e.X < _startMousePosition.X)
        x = e.X;
        w = _startMousePosition.X - e.X;
        x = _startMousePosition.X;
        w = e.X - _startMousePosition.X;

      if (e.Y < _startMousePosition.Y)
        y = e.Y;
        h = _startMousePosition.Y - e.Y;
        y = _startMousePosition.Y;
        h = e.Y - _startMousePosition.Y;

      x = x - imageOffset.X - this.AutoScrollPosition.X;
      y = y - imageOffset.Y - this.AutoScrollPosition.Y;

If selection was allowed, we construct the co-ordinates for a rectangle, automatically switching values around to ensure that the rectangle will always have a positive width and height. We'll also offset the co-ordinates if the image has been scrolled or if it has been centred (or both!).

      x = x / (float)this.ZoomFactor;
      y = y / (float)this.ZoomFactor;
      w = w / (float)this.ZoomFactor;
      h = h / (float)this.ZoomFactor;

As this is the zoomable scrolling image control, we also need to rescale the rectangle according to the current zoom level. This ensures the SelectionRegion property always returns a rectangle that describes the selection at 100% zoom.

      if (this.LimitSelectionToImage)
        if (x < 0)
          x = 0;

        if (y < 0)
          y = 0;

        if (x + w > this.Image.Width)
          w = this.Image.Width - x;

        if (y + h > this.Image.Height)
          h = this.Image.Height - y;

      this.SelectionRegion = new RectangleF(x, y, w, h);

The final step is to constrain the rectangle to the image size if the LimitSelectionToImage property is set, before assigning the final rectangle to the SelectionRegion property.

And that's pretty much all there is to it.

Scaling and offsetting

When using the control in our own products, it's very rarely to display a single image, but rather to display multiple items, be it sprites in a sprite sheet or tiles in a map. These implementations therefore often require the ability to get a single item, for example to display hover effects. This can be tricky with a control that scrolls, zooms and centres the image. Rather than repeat ZoomFactor calculations (and worse AutoScrollPosition) everywhere, we added a number of helper methods named GetOffset* and GetScaled*. Calling these with a "normal" value, will return that value repositioned and rescaled according to the current state of the control. An example of this is the DrawSelection method described above which needs ensure the current selection region is rendered correctly.

public virtual RectangleF GetScaledRectangle(RectangleF source)
  return new RectangleF
      (float)(source.Left * this.ZoomFactor),
      (float)(source.Top * this.ZoomFactor),
      (float)(source.Width * this.ZoomFactor),
      (float)(source.Height * this.ZoomFactor)

public virtual RectangleF GetOffsetRectangle(RectangleF source)
  RectangleF viewport;
  RectangleF scaled;
  float offsetX;
  float offsetY;

  viewport = this.GetImageViewPort();
  scaled = this.GetScaledRectangle(source);
  offsetX = viewport.Left + this.Padding.Left + this.AutoScrollPosition.X;
  offsetY = viewport.Top + this.Padding.Top + this.AutoScrollPosition.Y;

  return new RectangleF(new PointF(scaled.Left + offsetX, scaled.Top + offsetY), scaled.Size);

Versions of these methods exist for the following structures:

  • Point
  • PointF
  • Size
  • SizeF
  • Rectangle
  • RectangleF

These methods can come in extremely useful depending on how you are using the control!

Cropping an image

The demonstration program displays two ImageBox controls, the first allows you to select part of an image, and the second displays the cropped selection. I didn't add any sort of crop functionality to the control itself, but the following snippets shows how the demonstration program creates the cropped version.

Rectangle rect;

if (_previewImage != null)

rect = new Rectangle((int)imageBox.SelectionRegion.X, (int)imageBox.SelectionRegion.Y, (int)imageBox.SelectionRegion.Width, (int)imageBox.SelectionRegion.Height);

_previewImage = new Bitmap(rect.Width, rect.Height);

using (Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(_previewImage))
  g.DrawImage(imageBox.Image, new Rectangle(Point.Empty, rect.Size), rect, GraphicsUnit.Pixel);

previewImageBox.Image = _previewImage;

Finishing touches

We'll finish off by adding a couple of helper methods that implementers can call:

public virtual void SelectAll()
  if (this.Image == null)
    throw new InvalidOperationException("No image set");

  this.SelectionRegion = new RectangleF(PointF.Empty, this.Image.Size);

public virtual void SelectNone()
  this.SelectionRegion = RectangleF.Empty;

Known issues

Currently, if you try and draw the selection bigger than the visible area of the control, it will work, but it will not scroll the control for you. I also was going to add the ability to move or modify the selection but ran out of time for this particular post.

As always, if you have any comments or questions, please contact us!

Update History

  • 2012-05-30 - First published
  • 2020-11-21 - Updated formatting


Filename Description Version Release Date
  • md5: 91a9ec0fa7025622118ebc1f46ecfb30

Sample project which shows extending the ImageBox control to support selection regions.

30/05/2012 Download

About The Author


The founder of Cyotek, Richard enjoys creating new blog content for the site. Much more though, he likes to develop programs, and can often found writing reams of code. A long term gamer, he has aspirations in one day creating an epic video game. Until that time, he is mostly content with adding new bugs to WebCopy and the other Cyotek products.

Leave a Comment

While we appreciate comments from our users, please follow our posting guidelines. Have you tried the Cyotek Forums for support from Cyotek and the community?

Styling with Markdown is supported



Rafael Vasco

# Reply

Hi about the checker flickering i said in part 4 it's still present in this version. As i said to fix it, (haven't tested with border but it could work too), in this line (680): e.Graphics.TranslateTransform(this.AutoScrollPosition.X, this.AutoScrollPosition.Y); // transform tile drawing e.Graphics.FillRectangle(_texture, fillRectangle); // line 680 e.Graphics.ResetTransform(); //reset transform to identity

What happens without this two lines is that when scrolling , the image scrolls but the tile grid on back doesn't. It's not the expected behavior at least in my case. Anyway, thank u very much for this code, immensely helpful for me :)


# Reply

Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. It lets increase the c# skills of many beginners and even advanced programmers around the world. You contribute to make this world a better place to live. Best regards, JR



# Reply

thanks for this valuable solution, One more thing about picture box is that please provide rotation of image with drag handle if possible or any idea that can forward me to right direction to achieve this.......



# Reply

one more issue in this imagebox control , when i applied rotaion of image then imagebox control break the corner of image that means space is not available for rotaion, how it will be resolve?


Richard Moss

# Reply


The ImageBox control wasn't really designed with that purpose in mind. Your best option is probably to enable VirtualMode, and set the VirtualSize property to be large enough to handle the image and any angle it is rotated at. This means you would have to draw the image yourself though using the VirtualPaint event, but all in all it shouldn't be too much trouble - certainly easier than the actual act of rotating the image.

Regards; Richard Moss