High-Quality Image Resize with Java

Learn a trick to shrink images using the Java2D API, which creates high-quality image icons for your applications.

Image resize with java isn’t a new topic. What I want to explain here is a technique to create small high-quality images using the Java2D API, since I couldn’t find any reasonable solution on the Internet. The are some solutions available – like this one – but the final quality is low.

You can use this approach for different purposes, but the best example I can think of is the implementation of small avatars on web applications (see Nabble, DZone, etc.) or desktop software (e.g., Skype, MSN, etc.).

In order to show the contribution of this technique, I have to explain image resize from the beginning. We will improve the algorithm as we go and I also assume you have some background with Java2D.

Reading and Writing the Image

Since this is a simple example, I will read an image from the file system, resize it and save it back. The image I am using is below. Note that I am using a JPG file, which is the common format for pictures.

picture

To read this image, we can use the ImageIO class:

BufferedImage image = ImageIO.read(new File("c:\picture.jpg"));

First Attempt

Now we have to find a way to resize this image. Our first attempt is to use the drawImage() method of the Graphics interface:

private static BufferedImage resize(BufferedImage image, int width, int height) {
    BufferedImage resizedImage = new BufferedImage(width, height,
    BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_ARGB);
    Graphics2D g = resizedImage.createGraphics();
    g.drawImage(image, 0, 0, width, height, null);
    g.dispose();
    return resizedImage;
}

With this method, we can create a 24×24 avatar by calling:

Image resized = resize(image, 24, 24);
The last step is to save the image so that we can see the results. The ImageIO class can do this job:

ImageIO.write(resized, “png”, new File(“c:\picture1.png”));
Note that the second parameter is the format of the saved image. I used “png” because it is simpler. If you want to save it as JPG, you will have to use the JPEGImageEncoder class (and the result is the same, trust me).

The result of this method is a low-quality image:

picture1

Pay attention to the details of the image (look closer). There is no anti-alias and the face is distorted. Would you add such algorithm to your web application? I don’t think so. Users could get scared by looking at those images.

Second Attempt

We noticed that the main problem of the resize() method above is the fact that it doesn’t have anti-aliasing. So we could use the Rendering Hints of the Java2D API as an attempt to solve that problem:

private static BufferedImage resize(BufferedImage image, int width, int height) {
    int type = image.getType() == 0? BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_ARGB : image.getType();
    BufferedImage resizedImage = new BufferedImage(width, height, type);
    Graphics2D g = resizedImage.createGraphics();
    g.setComposite(AlphaComposite.Src);

    g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_INTERPOLATION,
    RenderingHints.VALUE_INTERPOLATION_BILINEAR);

    g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_RENDERING,
    RenderingHints.VALUE_RENDER_QUALITY);

    g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING,
    RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);

    g.drawImage(image, 0, 0, width, height, null);
    g.dispose();
    return resizedImage;
}

The result is below (right image). If you pay attention to the details, it is somewhat better, but still trash:

picture1picture2

Finally, The Trick

Now I will explain how to improve the quality of this image. Basically, the trick is to blur the image before resizing. The code that blurs an image in java is:

public static BufferedImage blurImage(BufferedImage image) {
    float ninth = 1.0f/9.0f;
    float[] blurKernel = {
        ninth, ninth, ninth,
        ninth, ninth, ninth,
        ninth, ninth, ninth
    };

    Map map = new HashMap();

    map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_INTERPOLATION,
    RenderingHints.VALUE_INTERPOLATION_BILINEAR);

    map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_RENDERING, RenderingHints.VALUE_RENDER_QUALITY);
    map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING, RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);

    RenderingHints hints = new RenderingHints(map);
    BufferedImageOp op = new ConvolveOp(new Kernel(3, 3, blurKernel), ConvolveOp.EDGE_NO_OP, hints);
    return op.filter(image, null);
}

Since the original image is in the JPG format, we can’t blur it directly. We have to create a compatible image first:

private static BufferedImage createCompatibleImage(BufferedImage image) {
    GraphicsConfiguration gc = BufferedImageGraphicsConfig.getConfig(image);
    int w = image.getWidth();
    int h = image.getHeight();
    BufferedImage result = gc.createCompatibleImage(w, h, Transparency.TRANSLUCENT);
    Graphics2D g2 = result.createGraphics();
    g2.drawRenderedImage(image, null);
    g2.dispose();
    return result;
}

Blurring the image before resizing it isn’t the only trick. You have to do this when the width or height of the image is 100px. Since small avatars are usually a square (width = height), you can resize it to 100×100, call the blur() method and resize again to 24×24:

private static BufferedImage resizeTrick(BufferedImage image, int width, int height) {
    image = createCompatibleImage(image);
    image = resize(image, 100, 100);
    image = blurImage(image);
    image = resize(image, width, height);
    return image;
}

(the resize() method is the one described in the second attempt)

Now you can compare the three results:

picture1picture2picture3

Conclusion

This was my contribution to the tough problem of shrinking images using the Java2D API. I would like to remember that this isn’t the ultimate algorithm to achieve that goal, but it is good enough considering its simplicity. If you have comments or feedback, I would like to hear them.

FULL SOURCE

import sun.awt.image.BufferedImageGraphicsConfig;

import javax.imageio.ImageIO;
import java.awt.Graphics2D;
import java.awt.RenderingHints;
import java.awt.AlphaComposite;
import java.awt.GraphicsConfiguration;
import java.awt.Transparency;
import java.awt.image.BufferedImage;
import java.awt.image.BufferedImageOp;
import java.awt.image.ConvolveOp;
import java.awt.image.Kernel;
import java.io.File;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.HashMap;

/**
 * High-Quality Image Resize with Java
 * http://www.componenthouse.com/article-20
 *
 * @author Hugo Teixeira
 */
public class ComponentHouseResizer {

	public static void main(String[] args) {
		try {
			BufferedImage image = ImageIO.read(new File("c:\\picture.jpg"));
			ImageIO.write(resizeTrick(image, 24, 24), "png", new File("c:\\picture3.png"));
		} catch (IOException e) {
			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}

	private static BufferedImage resize(BufferedImage image, int width, int height) {
		int type = image.getType() == 0? BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_ARGB : image.getType();
		BufferedImage resizedImage = new BufferedImage(width, height, type);
		Graphics2D g = resizedImage.createGraphics();
		g.setComposite(AlphaComposite.Src);
		g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_INTERPOLATION,RenderingHints.VALUE_INTERPOLATION_BILINEAR);
		g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_RENDERING, RenderingHints.VALUE_RENDER_QUALITY);
		g.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING, RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);
		g.drawImage(image, 0, 0, width, height, null);
		g.dispose();
		return resizedImage;
	}

	private static BufferedImage resizeTrick(BufferedImage image, int width, int height) {
		image = createCompatibleImage(image);
		image = resize(image, 100, 100);
		image = blurImage(image);
		return resize(image, width, height);
	}

	public static BufferedImage blurImage(BufferedImage image) {
		float ninth = 1.0f/9.0f;
		float[] blurKernel = {
				ninth, ninth, ninth,
				ninth, ninth, ninth,
				ninth, ninth, ninth
		};

		Map<RenderingHints.Key, Object> map = new HashMap<RenderingHints.Key, Object>();
		map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_INTERPOLATION,RenderingHints.VALUE_INTERPOLATION_BILINEAR);
		map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_RENDERING,RenderingHints.VALUE_RENDER_QUALITY);
		map.put(RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING,RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);
		RenderingHints hints = new RenderingHints(map);
		BufferedImageOp op = new ConvolveOp(new Kernel(3, 3, blurKernel), ConvolveOp.EDGE_NO_OP, hints);
		return op.filter(image, null);
	}

	private static BufferedImage createCompatibleImage(BufferedImage image) {
		GraphicsConfiguration gc = BufferedImageGraphicsConfig.getConfig(image);
		int w = image.getWidth();
		int h = image.getHeight();
		BufferedImage result = gc.createCompatibleImage(w, h, Transparency.TRANSLUCENT);
		Graphics2D g2 = result.createGraphics();
		g2.drawRenderedImage(image, null);
		g2.dispose();
		return result;
	}

}

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