Drawing Images

There is a method for drawing from a Gdk::Pixbuf to a Cairo::Context. A Gdk::Pixbuf buffer is a useful wrapper around a collection of pixels, which can be read from files, and manipulated in various ways.

Probably the most common way of creating Gdk::Pixbufs is to use Gdk::Pixbuf::create_from_file() or Gdk::Pixbuf::create_from_resource(), which can read an image file, such as a png file into a pixbuf ready for rendering.

The Gdk::Pixbuf can be rendered by setting it as the source pattern of the Cairo context with Gdk::Cairo::set_source_pixbuf(). Then draw the image with either Cairo::Context::paint() (to draw the whole image), or Cairo::Context::rectangle() and Cairo::Context::fill() (to fill the specified rectangle). set_source_pixbuf() is not a member of Cairo::Context. It takes a Cairo::Context as its first parameter.

Here is a small bit of code to tie it all together: (Note that usually you wouldn't load the image every time in the draw signal handler! It's just shown here to keep it all together.)

bool MyArea::on_draw(const Cairo::RefPtr<Cairo::Context>& cr)
  Glib::RefPtr<Gdk::Pixbuf> image = Gdk::Pixbuf::create_from_file("myimage.png");
  // Draw the image at 110, 90, except for the outermost 10 pixels.
  Gdk::Cairo::set_source_pixbuf(cr, image, 100, 80);
  cr->rectangle(110, 90, image->get_width()-20, image->get_height()-20);
  return true;


Here is an example of a simple program that draws an image. The program loads the image from a resource file. See the Gio::Resource and glib-compile-resources section. Use glib-compile-resources to compile the resources into a C source file that can be compiled and linked with the C++ code. E.g.

$ glib-compile-resources --target=resources.c --generate-source image.gresource.xml

Figure 17.7. Drawing Area - Image

Drawing Area - Image

Source Code

File: myarea.h (For use with gtkmm 3, not gtkmm 2)


#include <gtkmm/drawingarea.h>
#include <gdkmm/pixbuf.h>

class MyArea : public Gtk::DrawingArea
  virtual ~MyArea();

  //Override default signal handler:
  bool on_draw(const Cairo::RefPtr<Cairo::Context>& cr) override;

  Glib::RefPtr<Gdk::Pixbuf> m_image;


File: main.cc (For use with gtkmm 3, not gtkmm 2)

#include "myarea.h"
#include <gtkmm/application.h>
#include <gtkmm/window.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv)
  auto app = Gtk::Application::create(argc, argv, "org.gtkmm.example");

  Gtk::Window win;
  win.set_default_size(300, 200);

  MyArea area;

  return app->run(win);

File: myarea.cc (For use with gtkmm 3, not gtkmm 2)

#include "myarea.h"
#include <cairomm/context.h>
#include <giomm/resource.h>
#include <gdkmm/general.h> // set_source_pixbuf()
#include <glibmm/fileutils.h>
#include <iostream>

    // The fractal image has been created by the XaoS program.
    // http://xaos.sourceforge.net
    m_image = Gdk::Pixbuf::create_from_resource("/image/fractal_image.png");
  catch(const Gio::ResourceError& ex)
    std::cerr << "ResourceError: " << ex.what() << std::endl;
  catch(const Gdk::PixbufError& ex)
    std::cerr << "PixbufError: " << ex.what() << std::endl;

  // Show at least a quarter of the image.
  if (m_image)
    set_size_request(m_image->get_width()/2, m_image->get_height()/2);


bool MyArea::on_draw(const Cairo::RefPtr<Cairo::Context>& cr)
  if (!m_image)
    return false;

  Gtk::Allocation allocation = get_allocation();
  const int width = allocation.get_width();
  const int height = allocation.get_height();

  // Draw the image in the middle of the drawing area, or (if the image is
  // larger than the drawing area) draw the middle part of the image.
  Gdk::Cairo::set_source_pixbuf(cr, m_image,
    (width - m_image->get_width())/2, (height - m_image->get_height())/2);

  return true;

File: image.gresource.xml (For use with gtkmm 3, not gtkmm 2)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <gresource prefix="/image">