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Adding GIF-animation using GDI+

, 29 Jan 2002
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Norm demonstrates how to coerce GDI+ into displaying animated GIFs


How many of you developers are using GDI+? I reckon, not many. As a seasoned Windows C++ programmer developing for desktop applications, I've been  using the archaic GDI on regular basis. Since the release of GDI+ (see ( I've been using GDI+ in new applications and also converting existing applications to use GDI+. There numerous compelling reasons why you should be using GDI+, here are some:

  • Successor to GDI
  • Compatible with .NET
  • Optimizes many of the capabilities of GDI
  • Supports: Gradient Brushes, Independent Path Objects, Transformations and the Matrix Object, Scalable Regions, Alpha Blending and support for multiple image formats:
    • BMP
    • GIF
    • JPEG
    • Exif
    • PNG
    • TIFF
    • ICON
    • WMF
    • EMF

During my development of Windows GUI based applications with GDI+, I've come across the need to display animated GIFs, whilst GDI+ does not support displaying animated GIFs directly, in can be done with a little coding.


Firstly lets look at drawing a simple image using GDI+.

void CMyWnd::OnPaint()
	CPaintDC dc(this);
	Graphics graphics(&dc); // Create a GDI+ graphics object

	Image image(L"Test.Gif"); // Construct an image
	graphics.DrawImage(&image, 0, 0, image.GetWidth(), image.GetHeight());	

Straight away we can see the simplistic C++ interface for using GDI objects. This makes it a sure fire way for using GDI objects. There is no need for using SelectObject to select GDI objects in and out of the device context.

For those of the readers who are not familiar with the format of an animated GIF, animated GIF is actually a series of GIF frames with a delay time associated each frame, therefore each frame can have a different delay time.

My implementation of encapsulating an animated GIF functionality derives a class called from ImageEx from the GDI+ Image class. The first task is to determine whether or not a GIF is of the animated kind. The following code demonstrates this:

bool ImageEx::TestForAnimatedGIF()
	UINT count = 0;
	count = GetFrameDimensionsCount();
	GUID* pDimensionIDs = new GUID[count];

	// Get the list of frame dimensions from the Image object.
	GetFrameDimensionsList(pDimensionIDs, count);

	// Get the number of frames in the first dimension.
	m_nFrameCount = GetFrameCount(&pDimensionIDs[0]);

	// Assume that the image has a property item of type PropertyItemEquipMake.
	// Get the size of that property item.
	int nSize = GetPropertyItemSize(PropertyTagFrameDelay);

	// Allocate a buffer to receive the property item.
	m_pPropertyItem = (PropertyItem*) malloc(nSize);

	GetPropertyItem(PropertyTagFrameDelay, nSize, m_pPropertyItem);

	delete pDimensionIDs;

	return m_nFrameCount > 1;
<!-- Info Task Footer -->

m_pPropertyItem->value is actually a pointer to an array of longs, each long is a delay time which corresponds to a GIF frame. Because GetPropertyItem returns a different size depending on what property using interested in, a Size is require and its the programmer responsibility to allocate and deallocate the memory associated with GetPropertyItem. The size is determined by calling GetPropertyItemSize supplying property tag your interested in.

Once the number of frames and delay times have been retrieved from the image, a thread is created which calls to DrawFrameGIF until the object destructs. See DrawFrameGIF below:

bool ImageEx::DrawFrameGIF()

	::WaitForSingleObject(m_hPause, INFINITE);

	GUID pageGuid = FrameDimensionTime;

	long hmWidth = GetWidth();
	long hmHeight = GetHeight();

	HDC hDC = GetDC(m_hWnd);
	if (hDC)
		Graphics graphics(hDC);
		graphics.DrawImage(this, m_rc.left,, hmWidth, hmHeight);
		ReleaseDC(m_hWnd, hDC);

	SelectActiveFrame(&pageGuid, m_nFramePosition++); 

	if (m_nFramePosition == m_nFrameCount)
		m_nFramePosition = 0;

	long lPause = ((long*) m_pPropertyItem->value)[m_nFramePosition] * 10;

	DWORD dwErr = WaitForSingleObject(m_hExitEvent, lPause);

	return dwErr == WAIT_OBJECT_0;

One other interesting aspect of this class is it has the ability of loading a image directly as a resource from an executable. I usually import my GIF into a project and give it a resource type of "GIF" and then rename the resource ID from a numeric constant to a string (see the example code).


If you familiar with the concepts and programming of GDI, GDI+ provides some advance features and the interface almost mirrors the .NET GDI namespace. The sample apps and code include the full listings for implementing animated GIF in your code applications. For code reference just search for GDI+ within the code. One thing I haven't included in this article is starting up and shutting the GDI+ subsystem.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Software Developer (Senior) Software Kinetics
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Software Kinetics
are experts in developing customised and bespoke applications and have expertise in the development of desktop, mobile and internet applications on Windows.

We specialise in:

  • User Interface Design
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 PingroupMahdi Nejadsahebi30-Apr-11 22:13 
Questionone thread per gif, more gif picture will use more thread, and that's terrible PinmemberDavid_LoveCpp7-Oct-10 4:31 
QuestionProblem with speed for animate gif [modified] Pinmemberharturo12-Feb-10 12:06 
AnswerRe: Problem with speed for animate gif PinmemberGarth J Lancaster12-Feb-10 12:58 
AnswerRe: Problem with speed for animate gif [modified] Pinmemberharturo12-Feb-10 17:36 
Thanks Garth, for your quickly Re.

I seen this multiplier (*10) in this page "Adding GIF Animation wit GDI+" by

1) I think that this multiplier is because the time retrived is in hundredths of seconds and the time
   required for the timer is in milliseconds.

2) I tink that reset the timer there is a good idea for the reason that begin a new time for timer after
   killtimer is the purpose for the loop.

The problem is that most gif's are good animated for this code, normal, but just few gif´s are very faster animated and I don't know why.

I think that must other property that throw any valor as multiplier or divisor for the reason that maybe of time resolution that needed it.


-- Modified Monday, February 15, 2010 8:04 PM
AnswerRe: Problem with speed for animate gif: ===THANKS, DOUBT RESOLVED=== [modified] Pinmemberharturo16-Feb-10 22:23 
GeneralRe: Problem with speed for animate gif: ===THANKS, DOUBT RESOLVED=== PingroupNorm .net16-Feb-10 22:35 
GeneralRe: Problem with speed for animate gif: ===THANKS, for your quickly 12 min. after Re=== Pinmemberharturo17-Feb-10 15:22 
GeneralRe: Problem with speed for animate gif: ===THANKS, for your quickly 12 min. after Re=== PingroupNorm .net17-Feb-10 21:36 
AnswerRe: Problem with speed for animate gif Pinmemberkwoitek4-Nov-10 3:07 
Generalmultithreaded use PinmemberAnant wakode28-Oct-09 1:35 
GeneralRe: multithreaded use PingroupNorm .net28-Oct-09 2:05 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberSheetal_Joshi22-Oct-09 3:20 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PingroupNorm .net28-Oct-09 2:02 
GeneralSerious Error during drawing a Multi-Frame(&gt;10) Gif file Pinmemberadelezy16-Sep-09 23:07 
GeneralAccess Violation Pinmemberadelezy15-Sep-09 0:12 
GeneralCommercial License PinmemberRafi Rainshtein21-Jul-09 23:25 
GeneralRe: Commercial License PingroupNorm .net21-Jul-09 23:40 
GeneralRe: Commercial License PinmemberRafi Rainshtein22-Jul-09 2:45 
GeneralVC++.Net and Images Pinmemberminad_7865-Sep-07 4:54 
GeneralRe: VC++.Net and Images Pinmembernorm .net5-Sep-07 4:59 
GeneralRe: VC++.Net and Images Pinmemberminad_7866-Sep-07 0:40 
GeneralRe: VC++.Net and Images Pinmembernorm .net6-Sep-07 3:09 
GeneralCreate animated GIF PinmemberTall Dude19-Jan-07 9:58 
GeneralRe: Create animated GIF Pinmembernorm .net25-Jan-07 23:48 
GeneralGDI+ function to identify moving GIF image programatically Pinmembermukta_here8-Sep-06 4:31 
QuestionProblem with Image object in GDI+ (VC++) PinmemberDhananjayak0214-Aug-06 5:10 
AnswerRe: Problem with Image object in GDI+ (VC++) PinmemberInfro3-Sep-06 12:45 
AnswerRe: Problem with Image object in GDI+ (VC++) Pinmemberddzh22-Nov-07 23:50 
GeneralGDI+ Buffered image Pinmemberdarb29-Aug-06 14:47 
GeneralRe: GDI+ Buffered image Pinmembernorm .net10-Aug-06 0:36 
GeneralMagnificent !!!!! PinmemberHiigara3-Nov-05 4:12 
GeneralRe: Magnificent !!!!! Pinmembernorm.net8-Apr-06 0:03 
GeneralAnimated GIFs with transparecy Pinsussliqutttt13-Apr-05 9:10 
GeneralRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy Pinmemberdefrog11-Oct-05 5:45 
GeneralRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy PinmemberClaudio Sampaio25-Apr-06 12:02 
GeneralRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy Pinmembergame0071-Sep-06 17:30 
GeneralRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy PinmemberKenDang8-Aug-07 6:02 
GeneralRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy (The best way for transparency!!) PinmemberGreg Ellis11-Nov-08 12:19 
QuestionRe: Animated GIFs with transparecy (The best way for transparency!!) PinmemberIstvan Lengyel27-Nov-08 6:03 
GeneralRendering Time of each Frame PinmemberKohaku-Chan20-Dec-04 11:36 
GeneralRe: Rendering Time of each Frame PinmemberTDK90000016-Oct-05 23:00 
QuestionHow to create a multi-frame .gif file in C#? Pinmemberjackyxio24-Jul-04 0:36 
QuestionHow do I change the Color Palette of Gif Image Pinsusspubba2-Jul-04 18:04 
GeneralAnyone tried using this with an MFC dialog application using Visual Studio 2003 Pinmembersmesser16-May-04 19:13 
GeneralRe: Anyone tried using this with an MFC dialog application using Visual Studio 2003 Pinmemberdefrog11-Oct-05 6:39 
GeneralRe: Anyone tried using this with an MFC dialog application using Visual Studio 2003 Pinmembersmesser11-Oct-05 16:20 
QuestionHow to display .gif file on the toolbar and react to user click ? PinsussJim Morgan3-May-04 9:31 
GeneralAbout Save DC PinmemberAlvinYoung28-Mar-04 15:55 
QuestionHow to create an animated Gif PinmemberGustavo Bonansea25-Mar-04 3:42 

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