Roger Chapman

iOS Image Manipulation with UIGestureRecognizer: scale, move, rotate

10 Jun 2011

I promised to share with you my code that I used on the Twibbon iPhone app, to manipulate images using touch gestures. This solution uses UIGestureRecognizers and therefore only work in iOS 3.2 and above. The full source to a sample applications is available at the end.

Setting up the UI

On your main view you first want to set up an UIView that will act as your canvas. This canvas will contain your UIImageView for your photo. Setting the canvas view to Clip Subviews will make sure that your photo view will be masked inside of the canvas.

Create your UIGestureRecognizers

Once we have set up the basic UI we then need to make sure our app responds to your touch gestures on the screen, like so:

- (void)viewDidLoad {
	[super viewDidLoad];

	UIPinchGestureRecognizer *pinchRecognizer = [[[UIPinchGestureRecognizer alloc] initWithTarget:self action:@selector(scale:)] autorelease];
	[pinchRecognizer setDelegate:self];
	[self.view addGestureRecognizer:pinchRecognizer];

	UIRotationGestureRecognizer *rotationRecognizer = [[[UIRotationGestureRecognizer alloc] initWithTarget:self action:@selector(rotate:)] autorelease];
	[rotationRecognizer setDelegate:self];
	[self.view addGestureRecognizer:rotationRecognizer];

	UIPanGestureRecognizer *panRecognizer = [[[UIPanGestureRecognizer alloc] initWithTarget:self action:@selector(move:)] autorelease];
	[panRecognizer setMinimumNumberOfTouches:1];
	[panRecognizer setMaximumNumberOfTouches:1];
	[panRecognizer setDelegate:self];
	[canvas addGestureRecognizer:panRecognizer];

	UITapGestureRecognizer *tapProfileImageRecognizer = [[[UITapGestureRecognizer alloc] initWithTarget:self action:@selector(tapped:)] autorelease];
	[tapProfileImageRecognizer setNumberOfTapsRequired:1];
	[tapProfileImageRecognizer setDelegate:self];
	[canvas addGestureRecognizer:tapProfileImageRecognizer];

You’ll notice that the pinch and rotate actions have been added to the whole view whereas the move has only been added to the canvas; this is because I felt that it gives a better user experience especially as it gives the user more screen to use two fingers.

Hook up the manipulation methods

Once we have the gestures set up we can now use some animation to manipulate the photo based on the users touch gestures:

-(void)scale:(id)sender {

    if([(UIPinchGestureRecognizer*)sender state] == UIGestureRecognizerStateBegan) {
      _lastScale = 1.0;

    CGFloat scale = 1.0 - (_lastScale - [(UIPinchGestureRecognizer*)sender scale]);

    CGAffineTransform currentTransform = photoImage.transform;
    CGAffineTransform newTransform = CGAffineTransformScale(currentTransform, scale, scale);

    [photoImage setTransform:newTransform];

    _lastScale = [(UIPinchGestureRecognizer*)sender scale];
    [self showOverlayWithFrame:photoImage.frame];

	-(void)rotate:(id)sender {

    if([(UIRotationGestureRecognizer*)sender state] == UIGestureRecognizerStateEnded) {

      _lastRotation = 0.0;

    CGFloat rotation = 0.0 - (_lastRotation - [(UIRotationGestureRecognizer*)sender rotation]);

    CGAffineTransform currentTransform = photoImage.transform;
    CGAffineTransform newTransform = CGAffineTransformRotate(currentTransform,rotation);

    [photoImage setTransform:newTransform];

    _lastRotation = [(UIRotationGestureRecognizer*)sender rotation];
    [self showOverlayWithFrame:photoImage.frame];

-(void)move:(id)sender {

  CGPoint translatedPoint = [(UIPanGestureRecognizer*)sender translationInView:canvas];

  if([(UIPanGestureRecognizer*)sender state] == UIGestureRecognizerStateBegan) {
    _firstX = [photoImage center].x;
    _firstY = [photoImage center].y;

  translatedPoint = CGPointMake(_firstX+translatedPoint.x, _firstY+translatedPoint.y);

  [photoImage setCenter:translatedPoint];
  [self showOverlayWithFrame:photoImage.frame];

-(void)tapped:(id)sender {
  _marque.hidden = YES;

Added bonus code snipet: selection marque overlay

You’ll notice in some of the code above making reference to a _marque, This is the marching ants you see when you have selected the photo and allows you to easily see the boundary line of the image.

First we set up a CAShapeLayer object using QuartzCore:

if (!_marque) {
	_marque = [[CAShapeLayer layer] retain];
	_marque.fillColor = [[UIColor clearColor] CGColor];
	_marque.strokeColor = [[UIColor grayColor] CGColor];
	_marque.lineWidth = 1.0f;
	_marque.lineJoin = kCALineJoinRound;
	_marque.lineDashPattern = [NSArray arrayWithObjects:[NSNumber numberWithInt:10],[NSNumber numberWithInt:5], nil];
	_marque.bounds = CGRectMake(photoImage.frame.origin.x, photoImage.frame.origin.y, 0, 0);
	_marque.position = CGPointMake(photoImage.frame.origin.x + canvas.frame.origin.x, photoImage.frame.origin.y + canvas.frame.origin.y);
[[self.view layer] addSublayer:_marque];

Then we show the marque when we move (rotate, resize) the photo and add the marching ants animation.

-(void)showOverlayWithFrame:(CGRect)frame {

	if (![_marque actionForKey:@"linePhase"]) {
		CABasicAnimation *dashAnimation;
		dashAnimation = [CABasicAnimation animationWithKeyPath:@"lineDashPhase"];
		[dashAnimation setFromValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:0.0f]];
		[dashAnimation setToValue:[NSNumber numberWithFloat:15.0f]];
		[dashAnimation setDuration:0.5f];
		[dashAnimation setRepeatCount:HUGE_VALF];
		[_marque addAnimation:dashAnimation forKey:@"linePhase"];

	_marque.bounds = CGRectMake(frame.origin.x, frame.origin.y, 0, 0);
	_marque.position = CGPointMake(frame.origin.x + canvas.frame.origin.x, frame.origin.y + canvas.frame.origin.y);

	CGMutablePathRef path = CGPathCreateMutable();
	CGPathAddRect(path, NULL, frame);
	[_marque setPath:path];

	_marque.hidden = NO;

Example project and source on GitHub

The full source of the above code is available within my Sample Projects GitHub account under the ImageManipulation folder. Running this app should produce a lovely frame of Steve Jobs:

Image Manipulation iPhone sample app