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I'm trying to create images from symbols so that I can create a custom symbol dialog. Found this sample code on the ESRI forums and it workes great on almost all symbols. I'm having problems with a IMultiLayerFillSymbol that has a IPictureFillSymbol on one of it's layers. It's throwing an exception on symbol.Draw(geometry);

Does anyone know if there is any additional steps that has to taken to get it to work with a IMultiLayerFillSymbol?

static public Image ImageFromSymbol(ISymbol symbol, Int32 width, Int32 height)
        Bitmap bitmap = new Bitmap(width, height);
        Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(bitmap);
        IntPtr hdc = g.GetHdc();

        IGeometry geometry = null;
        if (symbol is IMarkerSymbol)
            IPoint point = new PointClass();
            point.X = (width / 2);
            point.Y = (height / 2);
            geometry = point;
        else if (symbol is ILineSymbol)
            IPolyline line = new PolylineClass();
            IPoint ptFrom = new PointClass();
            IPoint ptTo = new PointClass();
            ptFrom.X = 3; ptFrom.Y = (height / 2);
            ptTo.X = (width - 3); ptTo.Y = ptFrom.Y;
            line.FromPoint = ptFrom;
            line.ToPoint = ptTo;
            geometry = line;
            IEnvelope bounds = new EnvelopeClass();
            bounds.XMin = 1; bounds.XMax = width - 1;
            bounds.YMin = 1; bounds.YMax = height - 1;
            geometry = bounds;

        symbol.SetupDC(hdc.ToInt32(), null);

        return bitmap as Image;
    catch (Exception ex)
        return null;

Update, Added the following code to make it work:

Updated the ImageFromSymbol metod with:

ITransformation pTransformation = CreateTransFromDC(
                       hDC, size.Width, size.Height);
pSymbol.SetupDC(hDC.ToInt32(), pTransformation);


 private const int LOGPIXELSY = 90;

[DllImport("GDI32.dll", EntryPoint = "GetDeviceCaps",
           ExactSpelling = true, SetLastError = true)]
       private static extern int GetDeviceCaps(IntPtr hdc, int nIndex);

private static ITransformation CreateTransFromDC(IntPtr hDC,
           int lWidth, int lHeight) {
           // Calculate the parameters for the new transformation,
           // based on the dimensions passed to this function.
           try {
               IEnvelope pBoundsEnvelope = new EnvelopeClass();
               pBoundsEnvelope.PutCoords(0.0, 0.0, (double)lWidth,

               tagRECT deviceRect;
               deviceRect.left = 0;
      = 0;
               deviceRect.right = lWidth;
               deviceRect.bottom = lHeight;

               int dpi = GetDeviceCaps(hDC, LOGPIXELSY);
               if (dpi == 0) {
                   throw new Exception(
                     "Could not retrieve Resolution from device context.");

               // Create a new display transformation and set its properties
               IDisplayTransformation newTrans =
                   new DisplayTransformationClass();
               newTrans.VisibleBounds = pBoundsEnvelope;
               newTrans.Bounds = pBoundsEnvelope;
               newTrans.set_DeviceFrame(ref deviceRect);
               newTrans.Resolution = dpi;

               return newTrans;
           catch {
               return null;
share|improve this question
Yes, when I tried to loop through layers of the IMultiLayerFillSymbol and drawing the individual IPictureFillSymbol it throws the same exception. – MathiasWestin Oct 6 '10 at 14:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd try creating a new DisplayTransformation class and passing it to SetupDC (instead of null). I think you'll need to set the device frame to match the pixel extent, along with visible extent. Then pass an envelope to Draw that matches the visible extent.

Update: try Richie Carmichael's SymbolToBitmap function here.

share|improve this answer
Great! Adding a ITransformation solved the problem! – MathiasWestin Oct 6 '10 at 15:57
@seems that the url is broken :( – vinayan Nov 9 at 10:20
@vinayan looks like Richie also uses SymboltoBitmap here… – Kirk Kuykendall Nov 9 at 21:59

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