Java AWT

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Simple Graphics

2.7 Image

An Image is a displayable object maintained in memory. AWT has built-in support for reading files in GIF and JPEG format, including GIF89a animation. Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, HotJava, and Sun's JDK also understand the XBM image format. Images are loaded from the filesystem or network by the getImage() method of either Component or Toolkit, drawn onto the screen with drawImage() from Graphics, and manipulated by several objects within the java.awt.image package. Figure 2.15 shows an Image.

Figure 2.15: An Image

[Graphic: Figure 2-15]

Image is an abstract class implemented by many different platform-specific classes. The system that runs your program will provide an appropriate implementation; you do not need to know anything about the platform-specific classes, because the Image class completely defines the API for working with images. If you're curious, the platform-specific packages used by the JDK are:

This section covers only the Image object itself. AWT also includes a package named java.awt.image that includes more advanced image processing utilities. The classes in java.awt.image are covered in Chapter 12, Image Processing.

Image Methods


public static final Object UndefinedProperty

In Java 1.0, the sole constant of Image is UndefinedProperty. It is used as a return value from the getProperty() method to indicate that the requested property is unavailable.

Java 1.1 introduces the getScaledInstance() method. The final parameter to the method is a set of hints to tell the method how best to scale the image. The following constants provide possible values for this parameter.

public static final int SCALE_DEFAULT (New)

The SCALE_DEFAULT hint should be used alone to tell getScaledInstance() to use the default scaling algorithm.

public static final int SCALE_FAST (New)

The SCALE_FAST hint tells getScaledInstance() that speed takes priority over smoothness.

public static final int SCALE_SMOOTH (New)

The SCALE_SMOOTH hint tells getScaledInstance() that smoothness takes priority over speed.

public static final int SCALE_REPLICATE (New)

The SCALE_REPLICATE hint tells getScaledInstance() to use ReplicateScaleFilter or a reasonable alternative provided by the toolkit. ReplicateScaleFilter is discussed in Chapter 12, Image Processing.

public static final int SCALE_AREA_AVERAGING (New)

The SCALE_AREA_AVERAGING hint tells getScaledInstance() to use AreaAveragingScaleFilter or a reasonable alternative provided by the toolkit. AreaAveragingScaleFilter is discussed in Chapter 12, Image Processing.


There are no constructors for Image. You get an Image object to work with by using the getImage() method of Applet (in an applet), Toolkit (in an application), or the createImage() method of Component or Toolkit. getImage() uses a separate thread to fetch the image. The thread starts when you call drawImage(), prepareImage(), or any other method that requires image information. getImage() returns immediately. You can also use the MediaTracker class to force an image to load before it is needed. MediaTracker is discussed in the next section. Characteristics

public abstract int getWidth (ImageObserver observer)

The getWidth() method returns the width of the image object. The width may not be available if the image has not started loading; in this case, getWidth() returns -1. An image's size is available long before loading is complete, so it is often useful to call getWidth() while the image is loading.

public abstract int getHeight (ImageObserver observer)

The getHeight() method returns the height of the image object. The height may not be available if the image has not started loading; in this case, the getHeight() method returns -1. An image's size is available long before loading is complete, so it is often useful to call getHeight() while the image is loading.

Miscellaneous methods

public Image getScaledInstance (int width, int height, int hints) (New)

The getScaledInstance() method enables you to generate scaled versions of images before they are needed. Prior to Java 1.1, it was necessary to tell the drawImage() method to do the scaling. However, this meant that scaling didn't take place until you actually tried to draw the image. Since scaling takes time, drawing the image required more time; the net result was degraded appearance. With Java 1.1, you can generate scaled copies of images before drawing them; then you can use a version of drawImage() that does not do scaling, and therefore is much quicker.

The width parameter of getScaledInstance() is the new width of the image. The height parameter is the new height of the image. If either is -1, the scaling retains the aspect ratio of the original image. For instance, if the original image size was 241 by 72 pixels, and width and height were 100 and -1, the new image size would be 100 by 29 pixels. If both width and height are -1, the getScaledInstance() method retains the image's original size. The hints parameter is one of the Image class constants.

Image i = getImage (getDocumentBase(), "rosey.jpg");
Image j = i.getScaledInstance (100, -1, Image.SCALE_FAST);

public abstract ImageProducer getSource ()

The getSource() method returns the image's producer, which is an object of type ImageProducer. This object represents the image's source. Once you have the ImageProducer, you can use it to do additional image processing; for example, you could create a modified version of the original image by using a FilteredImageSource. Image producers and image filters are covered in Chapter 12, Image Processing.

public abstract Graphics getGraphics ()

The getGraphics() method returns the image's graphics context. The method getGraphics() works only for Image objects created in memory with Component.createImage (int, int). If the image came from a URL or a file (i.e., from getImage()), getGraphics() throws the run-time exception ClassCastException.

public abstract Object getProperty (String name, ImageObserver observer)

The getProperty() method interacts with the image's property list. An object representing the requested property name will be returned for observer. observer represents the Component on which the image is rendered. If the property name exists but is not available yet, getProperty() returns null. If the property name does not exist, the getProperty() method returns the Image.UndefinedProperty object.

Each image type has its own property list. A property named comment stores a comment String from the image's creator. The CropImageFilter adds a property named croprect. If you ask getProperty() for an image's croprect property, you get a Rectangle that shows how the original image was cropped.

public abstract void flush()

The flush() method resets an image to its initial state. Assume you acquire an image over the network with getImage(). The first time you display the image, it will be loaded over the network. If you redisplay the image, AWT normally reuses the original image. However, if you call flush() before redisplaying the image, AWT fetches the image again from its source. (Images created with createImage() aren't affected.) The flush() method is useful if you expect images to change while your program is running. The following program demonstrates flush(). It reloads and displays the file flush.gif every time you click the mouse. If you change the file flush.gif and click on the mouse, you will see the new file.

import java.awt.*;
public class flushMe extends Frame {
    Image im;
    flushMe () {
        super ("Flushing");
        im = Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit().getImage ("flush.gif");
        resize (175, 225);
    public void paint (Graphics g) {
        g.drawImage (im, 0, 0, 175, 225, this);
    public boolean mouseDown (Event e, int x, int y) {
        return true;
    public static void main (String [] args) {
        Frame f = new flushMe ();;

Simple Animation

Creating simple animation sequences in Java is easy. Load a series of images, then display the images one at a time. Example 2.1 is an application that displays a simple animation sequence. Example 2.2 is an applet that uses a thread to run the application. These programs are far from ideal. If you try them, you'll probably notice some flickering or missing images. We discuss how to fix these problems shortly.

Example 2.1: Animation Application

import java.awt.*;
public class Animate extends Frame {
    static Image im[];
    static int numImages = 12;
    static int counter=0;
    Animate () {
        super ("Animate");
    public static void main (String[] args) {
        Frame f = new Animate();
        f.resize (225, 225);;
        im = new Image[numImages];
        for (int i=0;i<numImages;i++) {
            im[i] = Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit().getImage ("clock"+i+".jpg");
    public synchronized void paint (Graphics g) {
        g.translate (insets().left, insets().top);
        g.drawImage (im[counter], 0, 0, this);
        if (counter == numImages)
            counter = 0;
        repaint (200);

This application displays images with the name clockn.jpg, where n is a number between 0 and 11. It fetches the images using the getImage() method of the Toolkit class--hence, the call to Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit(), which gets a Toolkit object to work with. The paint() method displays the images in sequence, using drawImage(). paint() ends with a call to repaint(200), which schedules another call to paint() in 200 milliseconds.

The AnimateApplet, whose code is shown in Example 2.2, does more or less the same thing. It is able to use the Applet.getImage() method. A more significant difference is that the applet creates a new thread to control the animation. This thread calls sleep(200), followed by repaint(), to display a new image every 200 milliseconds.

Example 2.2: Multithreaded Animation Applet

import java.awt.*;
import java.applet.*;
public class AnimateApplet extends Applet implements Runnable {
    static Image im[];
    static int numImages = 12;
    static int counter=0;
    Thread animator;
    public void init () {
        im = new Image[numImages];
        for (int i=0;i<numImages;i++)
            im[i] = getImage (getDocumentBase(), "clock"+i+".jpg");
    public void start() {
        if (animator == null) {
            animator = new Thread (this);
            animator.start ();
    public void stop() {
        if ((animator != null) && (animator.isAlive())) {
            animator = null;
    public void run () {
        while (animator != null) {
            try {
                repaint ();
                if (counter==numImages)
            } catch (Exception e) {
                e.printStackTrace ();
    public void paint (Graphics g) {
        g.drawImage (im[counter], 0, 0, this);

One quick fix will help the flicker problem in both of these examples. The update() method (which is inherited from the Component class) normally clears the drawing area and calls paint(). In our examples, clearing the drawing area is unnecessary and, worse, results in endless flickering; on slow machines, you'll see update() restore the background color between each image. It's a simple matter to override update() so that it doesn't clear the drawing area first. Add the following method to both of the previous examples:

public void update (Graphics g) {
    paint (g);

Overriding update() helps, but the real solution to our problem is double buffering, which we'll turn to next.

Double Buffering

Double buffering means drawing to an offscreen graphics context and then displaying this graphics context to the screen in a single operation. So far, we have done all our drawing directly on the screen--that is, to the graphics context provided by the paint() method. As your programs grow more complex, paint() gets bigger and bigger, and it takes more time and resources to update the entire drawing area. On a slow machine, the user will see the individual drawing operations take place, which will make your program look slow and clunky. By using the double buffering technique, you can take your time drawing to another graphics context that isn't displayed. When you are ready, you tell the system to display the completely new image at once. Doing so eliminates the possibility of seeing partial screen updates and flickering.

The first thing you need to do is create an image as your drawing canvas. To get an image object, call the createImage() method. createImage() is a method of the Component class, which we will discuss in Chapter 5, Components. Since Applet extends Component, you can call createImage() within an applet. When creating an application and extending Frame, createImage() returns null until the Frame's peer exists. To make sure that the peer exists, call addNotify() in the constructor, or make sure you call show() before calling createImage(). Here's the call to the createImage() method that we'll use to get an Image object:

Image im = createImage (300, 300); // width and height

Once you have an Image object, you have an area you can draw on. But how do you draw on it? There are no drawing methods associated with Image; they're all in the Graphics class. So we need to get a Graphics context from the Image. To do so, call the getGraphics() method of the Image class, and use that Graphics context for your drawing:

Graphics buf = im.getGraphics();

Now you can do all your drawings with buf. To display the drawing, the paint() method only needs to call drawImage(im, . . .). Note the hidden connection between the Graphics object, buf, and the Image you are creating, im. You draw onto buf; then you use drawImage() to render the image on the on-screen Graphics context within paint().

Another feature of buffering is that you do not have redraw the entire image with each call to paint(). The buffered image you're working on remains in memory, and you can add to it at will. If you are drawing directly to the screen, you would have to recreate the entire drawing each time paint() is called; remember, paint() always hands you a completely new Graphics object. Figure 2.16 shows how double buffering works.

Example 2.3 puts it all together for you. It plays a game, with one move drawn to the screen each cycle. We still do the drawing within paint(), but we draw into an offscreen buffer; that buffer is copied onto the screen by g.drawImage(im, 0, 0, this). If we were doing a lot of drawing, it would be a good idea to move the drawing operations into a different thread, but that would be overkill for this simple applet.

Example 2.3: Double Buffering--Who Won?

import java.awt.*;
import java.applet.*;
public class buffering extends Applet {
    Image im;
    Graphics buf;
    int pass=0;
    public void init () {
        // Create buffer
        im = createImage (size().width, size().height);
        // Get its graphics context
        buf = im.getGraphics();
        // Draw Board Once
        buf.setColor (;
        buf.drawLine (  0,  50, 150,  50);
        buf.drawLine (  0, 100, 150, 100);
        buf.drawLine ( 50,   0,  50, 150);
        buf.drawLine (100,   0, 100, 150);
        buf.setColor (;
    public void paint (Graphics g) {
        // Draw image - changes are written onto buf
        g.drawImage (im, 0, 0, this);
        // Make a move
        switch (pass) {
            case 0:
                buf.drawLine (50, 50, 100, 100);
                buf.drawLine (50, 100, 100, 50);
            case 1:
                buf.drawOval (0, 0, 50, 50);
            case 2:
                buf.drawLine (100, 0, 150, 50);
                buf.drawLine (150, 0, 100, 50);
            case 3:
                buf.drawOval (0, 100, 50, 50);
            case 4:
                buf.drawLine (0, 50, 50, 100);
                buf.drawLine (0, 100, 50, 50);
            case 5:
                buf.drawOval (100, 50, 50, 50);
            case 6:
                buf.drawLine (50,  0, 100, 50);
                buf.drawLine (50, 50, 100,  0);
            case 7:
                buf.drawOval (50, 100, 50, 50);
            case 8:
                buf.drawLine (100, 100, 150, 150);
                buf.drawLine (150, 100, 100, 150);
        if (pass <= 9)
            repaint (500);

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