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How to deskew an image

, 25 Apr 2006 CPOL
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The article describes an algorithm to calculate the skew angle of an image.


The following article describes an algorithm in VB.NET to deskew an image.


Deskewing an image can help a lot, if you want to do OCR, OMR, barcode detection, or just improve the readability of scanned images. For example, think of a camera that automatically takes photos of goods with a barcode. If the skew angle is too high, the barcode can not be detected. After deskewing, the barcode can be read.

Before deskewing:

After deskewing:

Using the code

The following code determines the skew angle of the image bmpIn:

Dim sk As New gmseDeskew(bmpIn)
Dim skewangle As Double = sk.GetSkewAngle
Dim bmpOut As Bitmap = RotateImage(bmpIn, -skewangle)

Points of interest

The basic idea of the algorithm is:

  • Find reference lines in the image.
  • Calculate the angle of the lines.
  • Calculate the skew angle as an average of the angles.
  • Rotate the image.

The lines are detected with the Hough algorithm. Each point in the image can lie on an infinite number of lines. To find the reference lines, we let each point vote for all the lines that pass through the point. The lines with the highest number of points are our reference lines.

First, we need the parameterization of a line. A line can be parameterized as:

y = m*x+t

with slope m and offset t. We are interested in the angle and not the slope. The angle alpha of the line satisfies:


We get:


Which is equivalent to:


We can not search an infinite parameter space, so we have to define a discrete one. We search for all lines with:


in 0.2 steps, and we round d to an integer.

The basic algorithm in pseudo code:

1. Create a two-dimensional matrix Hough and initialize the values with 0 
2. for y=0 to Height-1 
3.    for x=0 to Width-1 
4.      if Point(x,y) is black then 
5.        for alpha=-20 to 20 step 0.2 
6.          d= Trunc(y*cos(alpha)-x*sin(alpha)) 
7.          Hough(Trunc(alpha*5),d)+=1 
8.        next alpha 
9.      end if 
10.   next x 
11. next y 
12. Find the top 20 (alpha,d) pairs that have the highest count in the Hough matrix 
13. Calculate the skew angle as an average of the alphas
14. Rotate the image by – skew angle

The algorithm is computationally expensive. To save some time, the number of voting points is reduced. For each text line, you can draw many lines with different angles through the letters:

For deskewing, only the bottom line is important.

The points on the bottom line have a lower neighbour that is white. So, we only let points (x,y) vote that satisfy:

  • The point (x,y) is black.
  • The lower neighbour (x,y+1) is white.


The article was taken from GMSE Imaging.


  • 03-30-06: Original article.
  • 03-31-06: More explanations about the Hough algorithm.
  • 04-25-06: Added the References section.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Comments and Discussions

QuestionTranslated to c# but images with less black lines go skew PinmemberJdarmanovich10-Feb-15 20:52 
GeneralI am so appreciate it! [modified] Pinmembermarshell_w3-Feb-14 9:48 
QuestionCode in windows service error PinmemberMember 983823212-Mar-13 8:44 
QuestionIt's really helpful! Pinmembershimizu_masato29-Mar-12 23:41 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembermanoj kumar choubey1-Mar-12 23:18 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberJohannes_Franke1-Feb-11 2:35 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 [modified] Pinmembernguyenq112-Mar-11 15:57 
GeneralPort to C++ PinmemberSyd Logan11-Dec-09 0:18 
QuestionUpload souce code Deskew, Visual C++ or C#, Please ? Pinmemberlung_tung_chuong_IT25-Nov-09 11:28 
GeneralJava port of this deskew code now available! PinmemberRoland Quast24-Oct-09 4:33 
GeneralThis is excellent and it works in grayscale images at 300dpi Pinmemberdaelin24-Jul-09 6:42 
QuestionUpload a complete Paint App please? PinmemberEdy11-May-09 18:07 
QuestionJust so I understand PinmemberTheGuy20-Mar-09 8:06 
GeneralA note on full page scanning PinmembersmartyP11-Feb-09 5:59 
QuestionHow to run Pinmembernanni_n25-Feb-08 23:11 
GeneralPerformances Pinmemberlucapan11-Oct-07 6:58 
GeneralRe: Performances Pinmembernanni_n25-Feb-08 23:08 
GeneralRe: Performances Pinmemberdefwebserver20-Apr-08 13:59 
GeneralRe: Performances Pinmemberlucapan18-Oct-09 22:47 
Questiongr8 work but ... Pinmemberlooka730-Mar-07 23:21 
GeneralNice work Pinmemberkarulont28-Mar-07 4:56 
GeneralRe: Nice work PinmemberVimmi2616-Aug-08 14:26 
Questioncircular hough transfrom Pinmembershdelpiero23-Feb-07 13:36 
GeneralRenuka PinmemberMember #369869024-Jan-07 18:45 
QuestionDeskew Application PinmemberCholekarSagar9-Nov-06 1:27 

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