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C# Tutorial: How To Apply Dilation To An Image

Andraz Krzisnik
C# Tutorial: How To Apply Dilation To An...

Dilation is a simple morphology process which changes pixel intensities based on the change of intensities that occur at object boundaries. This process is used on grayscale images, where pixel values across all color channels are the same.

Dilation process

When we apply dilation to an image, our goal is to highlight a certain object. It works by setting a kernel on a certain set of pixels, where only the center pixel is under the process of being changed or not. Using neighboring pixels we only detect, if intensities of those are different than the center one. If there is a difference, then the highest of all of those intensities is set to the intensity of the center pixel.

Kernel holds values of 0s and 1s, with which we can form different forms. Most common form used is cross or in kernels of higher dimensions, diamond shapes. In this project, created for this tutorial, I used a kernel of size 3×3, which holds values in a cross formation.

If a kernel is in a position where center pixel intensity is the same as intensities from all neighboring pixels which hold a certain formation, the pixel intensity doesn’t change.

Code for dilation function

Here is the beginning of the function, through which we pass two parameters, our image and dimension of our kernel.

private Bitmap Morph(Bitmap srcImg, int kernelSize)

Code for saving pixel values into an array

//Create image dimension variables for convenience
int width = srcImg.Width;
int height = srcImg.Height;

//Lock bits to system memory for fast processing
Rectangle canvas = new Rectangle(0, 0, width, height);
BitmapData srcData = srcImg.LockBits(canvas, ImageLockMode.ReadOnly, PixelFormat.Format32bppArgb);
int stride = srcData.Stride;
int bytes = stride * srcData.Height;

//Create byte arrays that will hold all pixel data, one for processing, one for output
byte[] pixelBuffer = new byte[bytes];
byte[] resultBuffer = new byte[bytes];

//Write pixel data to array meant for processing
Marshal.Copy(srcData.Scan0, pixelBuffer, 0, bytes);

Code for grayscale conversion

//Convert to grayscale
float rgb = 0;
for (int i = 0; i < bytes; i+=4)
    rgb = pixelBuffer[i] * .071f;
    rgb += pixelBuffer[i + 1] * .71f;
    rgb += pixelBuffer[i + 2] * .21f;
    pixelBuffer[i] = (byte)rgb;
    pixelBuffer[i + 1] = pixelBuffer[i];
    pixelBuffer[i + 2] = pixelBuffer[i];
    pixelBuffer[i + 3] = 255;

Code for applying dilation

int kernelDim = kernelSize;

//This is the offset of center pixel from border of the kernel
int kernelOffset = (kernelDim - 1) / 2;
int calcOffset = 0;
int byteOffset = 0;
for (int y = kernelOffset; y < height - kernelOffset; y++)
    for (int x = kernelOffset; x < width - kernelOffset; x++)
        byte value = 0;
        byteOffset = y * stride + x * 4;

        //Apply dilation
        for (int ykernel = -kernelOffset; ykernel <= kernelOffset; ykernel++)
            for (int xkernel = -kernelOffset; xkernel <= kernelOffset; xkernel++)
                if (shape[ykernel + kernelOffset, xkernel + kernelOffset] == 1)
                    calcOffset = byteOffset + ykernel * stride + xkernel * 4;
                    value = Math.Max(value, pixelBuffer[calcOffset]);
        //Write processed data into the second array
        resultBuffer[byteOffset] = value;
        resultBuffer[byteOffset + 1] = value;
        resultBuffer[byteOffset + 2] = value;
        resultBuffer[byteOffset + 3] = 255;

Code for outputing your processed image

//Create output bitmap of this function
Bitmap rsltImg = new Bitmap(width, height);
BitmapData rsltData = rsltImg.LockBits(new Rectangle(0, 0, width, height), ImageLockMode.WriteOnly, PixelFormat.Format32bppArgb);

//Write processed data into bitmap form
Marshal.Copy(resultBuffer, 0, rsltData.Scan0, bytes);
return rsltImg;

Code for our kernel

private byte[,] shape
        return new byte[,]
            { 0, 1, 0 },
            { 1, 1, 1 },
            { 0, 1, 0 }

Entire project is available here (created with Visual Studio 2015)

Download Project



I enjoyed making this tutorial, there were many new things I learned along the way. Dilation process is very good to use in combination with another process called holes filling.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please share it among other C# enthusiasts.

And of course, I would love to read what you think about it. There is a comment section below, don’t be shy, I don’t bite.

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