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WPF: A Simple Color Picker With Preview

By , 17 Apr 2012
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Contents

Introduction

Yesterday, I posted an article about creating a WPF Graph, and when I post a new article, I always have a look at the new articles, including those awaiting public status. Yesterday, someone published a WPF color picker that looked really cool. The only problem was the code was not attached to that article and the article text gave you no clue as to how the damn thing worked. I joked to a fellow CodeProject author that I just may have to try and write a color picker for WPF, as this article sparked my interest a bit.

As luck would have it, I woke up today (Monday) and tried to get into work (I work in London and live 50 miles away), but was faced with the worst snow storm in the UK for some time. No trains/buses/taxis were on, so guess what I did? That's right, I wrote a color picker.

This article is it.

It is very simple actually. I should point out before I start that I did borrow an idea or two from other excellent sources from the www. So I would like to start by having a special thanks section.

Special Thanks Goes Out To

The Code

So how does it all work? Well, it is actually so simple you probably would think "Ha, is that it". Well yep, this next section explains all that is involved, which ain't that much. Simplicity is good.

There is a WPF Window called ColorDialog which holds the actual ColorPicker control. Here is the XAML:

<Window x:Class="WPFColorPickerLib.ColorDialog"
      xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
      xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
      xmlns:local="clr-namespace:WPFColorPickerLib"
      Icon="Images/ColorSwatchSquare.png"
      Title="Pick Color" Height="370" 
      KeyDown="Window_KeyDown"
      Width="520" 
      WindowStartupLocation="CenterOwner">
    <local:ColorPicker x:Name="colorPicker"/>
</Window>

This ColorDialog window is the one you can use from your own code. The ColorDialog window exposes a single property which is really just the value of the currently selected color within the contained ColorPicker control.

Here is the code-behind for the ColorDialog window:

public partial class ColorDialog : Window
{
    #region Ctor
    public ColorDialog()
    {
        InitializeComponent();
    }
    #endregion

    #region Public Properties
    public Color SelectedColor
    {
        get { return colorPicker.SelectedColor; }
    }
    #endregion

    #region Private Methods
    /// <summary>
    /// Closes the dialog on Enter key pressed
    /// </summary>
    private void Window_KeyDown(object sender, KeyEventArgs e)
    {
        if (e.Key == Key.Enter)
        {
            this.Close();
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// User is happy with choice
    /// </summary>
    private void btnOk_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    {
        DialogResult = true;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// User is not happy with choice
    /// </summary>
    private void btnCancel_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    {
        DialogResult = false;
    }
    #endregion
}

And here is how you could use it from your own WPF code to set a Color:

private void btnPickColor_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    ColorDialog colorDialog = new ColorDialog();
    colorDialog.Owner = this;
    if ((bool)colorDialog.ShowDialog())
    {
        RectColorPicked.Fill = new SolidColorBrush(colorDialog.SelectedColor);
    }
}

The actual ColorPicker control works as follows:

There are a number of static swatch images:

that the user may pick from, using the image buttons provided at the top of the ColorPicker control. The user is then able to use the mouse to move around the image, and also adjust the Alpha value using the slider. The SelectedColor is worked out based on where the mouse is in relationship to the current static swatch image. Basically, a single pixel under the mouse is retrieved from the current static swatch image, and this is made into a 1*1 byte array, and then the values within this 1*1 byte array are used to create a Color, taking into account the current Alpha slider value.

The following diagram may help to explain it a little better.

One of the nice things about this control is the Preview, which is simply using a WPF InkPresenter control and showing some strokes on it. And the nice checker background is easily achieved in WPF using a DrawingBrush.

In essence, that is how it works, so probably time for some code.

Here is the entire XAML for the ColorPicker control:

<UserControl x:Class="WPFColorPickerLib.ColorPicker"
      xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
      xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
      Height="340" Width="510">
    <UserControl.Resources>
        <DrawingBrush x:Key="CheckerboardBrush" 
        Stretch="None" TileMode="Tile" 
                 AlignmentX="Left" AlignmentY="Top" 
                 Viewport="0,0,10,10" ViewportUnits="Absolute">
            <DrawingBrush.Drawing>
                <DrawingGroup>
                    <GeometryDrawing Brush="sc# 1,1,1">
                        <GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                            <RectangleGeometry Rect="0,0,10,10" />
                        </GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                    </GeometryDrawing>
                    <GeometryDrawing Brush="sc# 0.5,0.5,0.5">
                        <GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                            <RectangleGeometry Rect="0,0,5,5" />
                        </GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                    </GeometryDrawing>
                    <GeometryDrawing Brush="sc# 0.5,0.5,0.5">
                        <GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                            <RectangleGeometry Rect="5,5,5,5" />
                        </GeometryDrawing.Geometry>
                    </GeometryDrawing>
                </DrawingGroup>
            </DrawingBrush.Drawing>
        </DrawingBrush>
    </UserControl.Resources>

    <Grid Background="White">

        <Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <RowDefinition Height="35"/>
            <RowDefinition Height="230"/>
            <RowDefinition Height="70"/>
        </Grid.RowDefinitions>

        <StackPanel Grid.Row="0" Height="35" 
                    HorizontalAlignment="Stretch"
                    Orientation="Horizontal" 
                    Background="Black">
            <Label Content="Pick swatch type" 
                   Foreground="White" FontWeight="Bold" 
                   VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
            <Image x:Name="ImgSqaure1" 
                   Height="20" Width="20" 
                   Source="Images/ColorSwatchSquare.png" 
                   Margin="45,0,0,0" 
                   ToolTip="Square swatch1" 
                   MouseLeftButtonDown="Swatch_MouseLeftButtonDown"/>
            <Image x:Name="ImgSqaure2" 
                   Height="20" Width="20" 
                   Source="Images/ColorSwatchSquare2.png" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                   ToolTip="Square swatch2" 
                   MouseLeftButtonDown="Swatch_MouseLeftButtonDown"/>
            <Image x:Name="ImgCircle1" Height="20" Width="20" 
                   Source="Images/ColorSwatchCircle.png" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                   ToolTip="Circle swatch1" 
                   MouseLeftButtonDown="Swatch_MouseLeftButtonDown"/>
        </StackPanel>

        <Grid Grid.Row="1" Height="230" 
                       VerticalAlignment="Top">
            <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="170"/>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="170"/>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="170"/>
            </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>

            <!-- Colorbox, Column1-->
            <Grid Grid.Column="0" 
                     Grid.Row="0" Margin="10,30,0,0" >

                <Border BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="2" 
                    HorizontalAlignment="Center" 
                    VerticalAlignment="Top"
                    Background="White"
                    Width="154" Height="154">
                </Border>
              
                
                
                <Image x:Name="ColorImage" 
                       Width="150" Height="150" 
                       HorizontalAlignment="Center"
                       VerticalAlignment="Top" Margin="2"
                       Source="Images/ColorSwatchSquare.png"/>

                <Canvas x:Name="CanvImage" 
                       Width="150" Height="150" 
                       HorizontalAlignment="Center"
                       Background="Transparent"
                       VerticalAlignment="Top" Margin="2"
                       MouseDown="CanvImage_MouseDown"
                       MouseUp="CanvImage_MouseUp"
                       MouseMove="CanvImage_MouseMove">
                    <Ellipse x:Name="ellipsePixel" Width="10" 
                       Height="10" Stroke="Black" Fill="White" 
                       Canvas.Left="0" Canvas.Top="0"/> 
                    
                </Canvas>


            </Grid>

            <!-- Preview, Column1-->
            <StackPanel Grid.Column="1" Orientation="Vertical" >
                <Label Content="Preview" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                     HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                     Foreground="Black" FontWeight="Bold" 
                     VerticalAlignment="Center"/>

                <Border Margin="4,5,10,0" Width="154" 
                        Height="154" 
                        HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                        BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="2"
                        Background="{StaticResource CheckerboardBrush}">
                    <InkPresenter Name="previewPresenter" 
                        Margin="0" Width="150" Height="150"
                        Strokes="AOcBAxdIEESAgYAERYQBGwIAJAFGhAEbAgAk
                         AQUBOBkgMgkA9P8CAekiOkUzCQD4nwIBWiA6RTgIAP4DAAAAg
                         H8RAACAPx8JEQAAAAAAAPA/CpYBNIfm3uajgcQgUUiUkjUelE
                         al0KkUBh0HichlM1mtJotZp9JodDl8jk8ZgcBiUOjUYl08
                         m0+l0+lFCjksjESAh+kg6auNwaEwSBQiEQyLRKTRiVSiUSSORy
                         LQ6JQSBIPFYnKZTL5fOZfMZXL4/H47DYLBYHFoJLIpEo9GgIP3OB5
                         PlxLCJiZmU1MISSi4SJiS74+D4+4o" />
                </Border>

            </StackPanel>

            <!-- TextBoxes, Column2-->
            <StackPanel Grid.Column="2" Orientation="Vertical" >

                <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Margin="0,30,0,0">
                    <Label Content="A" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                            HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                            Foreground="Black" FontWeight="Bold" 
                            VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" 
                            Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtAlpha" 
                            BorderThickness="0" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" Margin="10,0,0,0" 
                            Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtAlphaHex" BorderThickness="0" 
                            Background="LightGray" BorderBrush="Transparent"
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                </StackPanel>

                <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Margin="0,5,0,0">
                    <Label Content="R" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                            HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                            Foreground="Black" FontWeight="Bold" 
                            VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" BorderBrush="Black" 
                            Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" Width="50" 
                            Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtRed" 
                            BorderThickness="0" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" Margin="10,0,0,0" 
                            Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtRedHex" 
                            BorderThickness="0" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                </StackPanel>

                <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Margin="0,5,0,0">
                    <Label Content="G" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                            HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                            Foreground="Black" FontWeight="Bold" 
                            VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtGreen" BorderThickness="0" 
                            Background="LightGray" BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" Background="LightGray"
                            BorderThickness="2" Margin="10,0,0,0" 
                            Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtGreenHex" BorderThickness="0"
                            Background="LightGray" BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                </StackPanel>

                <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Margin="0,5,0,0">
                    <Label Content="B" Margin="5,0,0,0" 
                           HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                           Foreground="Black" FontWeight="Bold" 
                           VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" BorderBrush="Black" 
                           Background="LightGray" 
                           BorderThickness="2" Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtBlue" 
                           BorderThickness="0" Background="LightGray" 
                           BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                           Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" BorderBrush="Black" 
                            Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderThickness="2" Margin="10,0,0,0" 
                            Width="50" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtBlueHex" BorderThickness="0" 
                            Background="LightGray" BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                </StackPanel>

                <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Margin="0,5,0,0">
                    <Border CornerRadius="5" Margin="22,0,0,0" 
                            Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="2" 
                            Width="112" Height="30">
                        <TextBox x:Name="txtAll"
                            BorderThickness="0" Background="LightGray" 
                            BorderBrush="Transparent" 
                            Margin="5,1,5,1" IsReadOnly="True"/>
                    </Border>
                </StackPanel>
                
            </StackPanel>
            
        </Grid>

        <!--AlphaSlider-->
        <Border x:Name="AlphaBorder" Grid.Row="2" Grid.ColumnSpan="2" 
                BorderBrush="Black" Height="60"
                BorderThickness="2" CornerRadius="5" Margin="10,5,10,5">
            <Slider x:Name="AlphaSlider" Orientation="Horizontal" 
                Minimum="0" Maximum="255" 
                SmallChange="1" LargeChange="25"
                VerticalAlignment="Center" Margin="5" 
                Value="255"
                ValueChanged="AlphaSlider_ValueChanged"/>
        </Border>
    </Grid>
</UserControl>

And here is all the C# code-behind for the ColorPicker control:

public partial class ColorPicker : UserControl
{
    #region Data
    private DrawingAttributes drawingAttributes = new DrawingAttributes();
    private Color selectedColor = Colors.Transparent;
    private Boolean IsMouseDown = false;
    #endregion

    #region Ctor
    public ColorPicker()
    {
        InitializeComponent();
        this.Loaded += new RoutedEventHandler(ColorPicker_Loaded);
    }
    #endregion

    #region Public Properties
    /// <summary>
    /// gets or privately sets the selected
    /// Color. When the Color is set 
    /// the CreateAlphaLinearBrush()/UpdateTextBoxes()
    /// and UpdateInk() methods are called
    /// </summary>
    public Color SelectedColor
    {
        get { return selectedColor; }
        private set
        {
            if (selectedColor != value)
            {
                selectedColor = value;
                CreateAlphaLinearBrush();
                UpdateTextBoxes();
                UpdateInk();
            }
        }
    }
    #endregion

    #region Private Methods
    /// <summary>
    /// Start with a default Color of black
    /// </summary>
    private void ColorPicker_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    {
        SelectedColor = Colors.Black;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Creates a new LinearGradientBrush background for the
    /// Alpha area slider. This is based on the current color
    /// </summary>
    private void CreateAlphaLinearBrush()
    {
        Color startColor = Color.FromArgb(
                (byte)0,
                SelectedColor.R, 
                SelectedColor.G, 
                SelectedColor.B);

        Color endColor = Color.FromArgb(
                (byte)255,
                SelectedColor.R, 
                SelectedColor.G, 
                SelectedColor.B);

        LinearGradientBrush alphaBrush = 
            new LinearGradientBrush(startColor, endColor, 
                new Point(0, 0), new Point(1, 0));

        AlphaBorder.Background = alphaBrush;
    }


    /// <summary>
    /// apply the new Swatch image based on user requested swatch
    /// </summary>
    private void Swatch_MouseLeftButtonDown(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
    {
        Image img = (sender as Image);
        ColorImage.Source = img.Source;
    }


    /// <summary>
    /// Simply grab a 1*1 pixel from the current color image, and
    /// use that and copy the new 1*1 image pixels to a byte array and
    /// then construct a Color from that.
    /// </summary>
    private void CanvImage_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        if (!IsMouseDown)
            return;

        try
        {
            CroppedBitmap cb = new CroppedBitmap(ColorImage.Source as BitmapSource,
                new Int32Rect((int)Mouse.GetPosition(CanvImage).X,
                    (int)Mouse.GetPosition(CanvImage).Y, 1, 1));

            byte[] pixels = new byte[4];

            try
            {
                cb.CopyPixels(pixels, 4, 0);
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
                //Ooops
            }

            //Ok now, so update the mouse cursor position and the SelectedColor
            ellipsePixel.SetValue(Canvas.LeftProperty,
                                 (double)(Mouse.GetPosition(CanvImage).X-5));
            ellipsePixel.SetValue(Canvas.TopProperty, 
                                 (double)(Mouse.GetPosition(CanvImage).Y-5));
            CanvImage.InvalidateVisual();
            SelectedColor = Color.FromArgb((byte)AlphaSlider.Value, 
                                            pixels[2], pixels[1], pixels[0]);
        }
        catch (Exception exc)
        {
            //not much we can do
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Update text box values based on SelectedColor
    /// </summary>
    private void UpdateTextBoxes()
    {
        txtAlpha.Text = SelectedColor.A.ToString();
        txtAlphaHex.Text = SelectedColor.A.ToString("X");
        txtRed.Text = SelectedColor.R.ToString();
        txtRedHex.Text = SelectedColor.R.ToString("X");
        txtGreen.Text = SelectedColor.G.ToString();
        txtGreenHex.Text = SelectedColor.G.ToString("X");
        txtBlue.Text = SelectedColor.B.ToString();
        txtBlueHex.Text = SelectedColor.B.ToString("X");
        txtAll.Text = String.Format("#{0}{1}{2}{3}",
                txtAlphaHex.Text, txtRedHex.Text, 
                txtGreenHex.Text, txtBlueHex.Text);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Updates Ink stroked based on SelectedColor
    /// </summary>
    private void UpdateInk()
    {
        drawingAttributes.Color = SelectedColor;
        drawingAttributes.StylusTip = StylusTip.Ellipse;
        drawingAttributes.Width = 5;

        // Update DA on previewPresenter
        foreach (Stroke s in previewPresenter.Strokes)
        {
            s.DrawingAttributes = drawingAttributes;
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Update SelectedColor Aplha based on Slider value
    /// </summary>
    private void AlphaSlider_ValueChanged(object sender, 
        RoutedPropertyChangedEventArgs<double> e)
    {
        SelectedColor = 
            Color.FromArgb(
                (byte)AlphaSlider.Value,
                SelectedColor.R, 
                SelectedColor.G, 
                SelectedColor.B);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Change IsMouseDown state
    /// </summary>
    private void CanvImage_MouseDown(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
    {
        IsMouseDown = true;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Change IsMouseDown state
    /// </summary>
    private void CanvImage_MouseUp(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
    {
        IsMouseDown = false;
    }
    #endregion
}

So What Do You Think?

I would just like to ask, if you liked the article, please vote for it, and leave some comments, as it lets me know if the article was at the right level or not, and whether it contained what people need to know.

More News

One of the readers of this article, a one Mark Treadwell, has taken this idea further and enhanced this dialog to allow the dialog to also show a selected Color on ShowDialog(), and also done various other enhancements. You can read more about this over at Mark's blog post at http://geekswithblogs.net/mtreadwell/archive/2010/01/03/137314.aspx, and here is a link to his source code: Marc's better ColorPicker.

A few people have asked for this, but I have been too busy, so thanks Marc.

License

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

About the Author

Sacha Barber
Software Developer (Senior)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
I currently hold the following qualifications (amongst others, I also studied Music Technology and Electronics, for my sins)
 
- MSc (Passed with distinctions), in Information Technology for E-Commerce
- BSc Hons (1st class) in Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence
 
Both of these at Sussex University UK.
 
Award(s)

I am lucky enough to have won a few awards for Zany Crazy code articles over the years

  • Microsoft C# MVP 2014
  • Codeproject MVP 2014
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2013
  • Codeproject MVP 2013
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2012
  • Codeproject MVP 2012
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2011
  • Codeproject MVP 2011
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2010
  • Codeproject MVP 2010
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2009
  • Codeproject MVP 2009
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2008
  • Codeproject MVP 2008
  • And numerous codeproject awards which you can see over at my blog

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionThe UpdateCursorEllipse will never (almost) work Pinmembertushkan19-Aug-13 21:39 
QuestionVery nice Sacha PinmemberMike Hankey18-Apr-12 1:31 
AnswerRe: Very nice Sacha PinmvpSacha Barber18-Apr-12 2:23 
QuestionChanging form backround Pinmemberkumika16-Jan-12 8:59 
This is good stuff. However the slider does not work when you set form background. You get a dark colour. Why is that? Thanks
Questionreally nice PinmemberCIDev13-Dec-11 6:28 
AnswerRe: really nice PinmvpSacha Barber13-Dec-11 20:19 
QuestionLicense PinmemberHabufe24-Jul-11 23:03 
AnswerRe: License PinmvpSacha Barber24-Jul-11 23:09 
GeneralRe: License PinmemberHabufe24-Jul-11 23:41 
GeneralRe: License PinmvpSacha Barber24-Jul-11 23:47 
Questionthe code PinmemberiNemo20-Aug-10 1:44 
AnswerRe: the code PinmvpSacha Barber20-Aug-10 3:06 
GeneralRe: the code PinmemberiNemo20-Aug-10 13:55 
GeneralEnabling User to enter RGB values PinmemberDennise14-Apr-10 6:36 
GeneralRe: Enabling User to enter RGB values PinmvpSacha Barber14-Apr-10 6:50 
GeneralRe: Enabling User to enter RGB values PinmemberDennise14-Apr-10 8:28 
Generalhi PingroupSarafuddin18-Jan-10 6:21 
GeneralRe: hi PinmvpSacha Barber18-Jan-10 6:23 
GeneralRe: hi PingroupSarafuddin18-Jan-10 6:26 
GeneralShould have been called 'WPF: Beautiful Color Picker' PinmemberTheArchitectmc4-Jan-10 5:58 
GeneralRe: Should have been called 'WPF: Beautiful Color Picker' PinmvpSacha Barber4-Jan-10 6:02 
GeneralGood Stuff PinmemberMark Treadwell3-Jan-10 1:56 
GeneralRe: Good Stuff PinmvpSacha Barber3-Jan-10 3:38 
GeneralRe: Good Stuff PinmemberMark Treadwell3-Jan-10 4:15 
GeneralRe: Good Stuff PinmvpSacha Barber3-Jan-10 9:42 

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