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  • Writer's pictureRobin Alex Panicker

Custom Painters in Flutter: A Guide to Creating Custom Designs

Updated: Apr 26


Custom Painters in Flutter: A Guide to Creating Custom Designs

Flutter is a popular cross-platform mobile application development framework, widely used for creating high-performance, visually appealing, and interactive applications. One of the most powerful features of Flutter is the ability to customize the look and feel of widgets using Custom Painters.


Custom Painters in Flutter allows you to create custom graphical effects and designs by painting directly onto the canvas, giving you complete control over the appearance of your application. In this blog, we'll explore how to use Custom Painters in Flutter, including code samples and examples.


What are Custom Painters in Flutter?


Custom Painters are a Flutter feature that allows you to create custom graphical effects by painting directly onto the canvas. It is based on the Paint class in Flutter, which provides a range of painting properties such as color, stroke width, and style. The CustomPainter class extends the Painter class and provides the canvas on which you can paint your custom designs.


Creating a Custom Painter


To create a custom painter in Flutter, you need to extend the CustomPainter class and implement two methods: paint and shouldRepaint.


The paint method is where you define what to paint on the canvas. It takes a Canvas object and a Size object as arguments. The canvas object provides a range of painting methods, such as drawLine, drawCircle, drawRect, etc., which you can use to draw custom shapes, patterns, and textures. The size object provides the width and height of the widget you're painting.


The shouldRepaint method is used to determine whether the painting should be repainted or not. It takes a CustomPainter object as an argument and returns a Boolean value. If the value is true, the painting will be repainted; if false, it will not be repainted.


Here's an example of a simple custom painter that draws a circle on the canvas:

class MyPainter extends CustomPainter {
  @override
  void paint(Canvas canvas, Size size) {
    Paint paint = Paint()
      ..color = Colors.blue
      ..strokeWidth = 5
      ..style = PaintingStyle.stroke;
    
    canvas.drawCircle(Offset(size.width/2, size.height/2), 50, paint);
  }

  @override
  bool shouldRepaint(CustomPainter oldDelegate) => false;
}

In this example, we define a custom painter called MyPainter that draws a blue circle with a 5-pixel border. We use the Paint class to define the painting properties, including the color, stroke width, and style. We then use the drawCircle method to draw the circle on the canvas, passing in the center point (which is half the width and height of the widget) and the radius.


Using a Custom Painter in a Flutter Widget


Now that we've created a custom painter, let's see how to use it in a Flutter widget. We'll use a CustomPaint widget to wrap our custom painter, which allows us to paint on the canvas of the widget.

class MyWidget extends StatelessWidget {
  @override
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return CustomPaint(
      painter: MyPainter(),
      child: Container(
        width: 200,
        height: 200,
      ),
    );
  }
}

In this example, we define a widget called MyWidget that uses a CustomPaint widget to wrap our custom painter (MyPainter). We also define a Container widget as the child of the CustomPaint widget, which sets the width and height of the widget to 200.


When we run the app, we'll see a blue circle with a 5-pixel border, drawn on the canvas of the MyWidget widget.


Advanced Custom Painting Techniques


Custom painters can be used for more than just drawing simple shapes. You can use custom painters to create complex designs, patterns, and textures.


Here are a few advanced painting techniques you can use in your custom painters:


Gradient Colors


You can use the Shader class to create gradient colors in your custom painter. Here's an example:

class GradientPainter extends CustomPainter {
  @override
  void paint(Canvas canvas, Size size) {
    Paint paint = Paint()
      ..shader = LinearGradient(
        begin: Alignment.topLeft,
        end: Alignment.bottomRight,
        colors: [Colors.blue, Colors.green],
      ).createShader(Rect.fromLTWH(0, 0, size.width, size.height));
    
    canvas.drawCircle(Offset(size.width/2, size.height/2), 50, paint);
  }

  @override
  bool shouldRepaint(CustomPainter oldDelegate) => false;
}

In this example, we use the LinearGradient class to create a linear gradient that starts from the top left and ends at the bottom right of the widget. We then use the createShader method to create a shader from the gradient and apply it to the paint object. Finally, we draw a circle on the canvas using the paint object.


Custom Shapes


You can use the Path class to create custom shapes in your custom painter. Here's an example:

class ShapePainter extends CustomPainter {
  @override
  void paint(Canvas canvas, Size size) {
    Path path = Path()
      ..moveTo(0, 0)
      ..lineTo(size.width, size.height)
      ..lineTo(size.width, 0)
      ..lineTo(0, size.height)
      ..close();
    
    Paint paint = Paint()..color = Colors.blue;
    
    canvas.drawPath(path, paint);
  }

  @override
  bool shouldRepaint(CustomPainter oldDelegate) => false;
}

In this example, we use the Path class to create a custom shape that looks like a diamond. We define four points using the moveTo and lineTo methods, and then close the path using the close method. We then create a paint object and draw the path on the canvas.


Animated Painters


You can use the Animation class to create animated custom painters. Here's an example:

class AnimatedPainter extends CustomPainter with ChangeNotifier {
  Animation<double> animation;
  AnimatedPainter(this.animation) : super(repaint: animation);

  @override
  void paint(Canvas canvas, Size size) {
    Paint paint = Paint()
      ..color = Colors.blue
      ..strokeWidth = 5
      ..style = PaintingStyle.stroke;
    
    canvas.drawCircle(
      Offset(size.width/2, size.height/2),
      50 + animation.value * 50,
      paint,
    );
  }

  @override
  bool shouldRepaint(CustomPainter oldDelegate) => true;
}

In this example, we extend the CustomPainter class and also implement the ChangeNotifier mixin. We define an Animation object that will animate the size of the circle. We then create a custom constructor that takes the animation object and calls the super constructor with the repaint property set to the animation. We use the animation value to determine the size of the circle, and then draw the circle on the canvas. Finally, we override the shouldRepaint method to return true, which will animate the painting when the animation updates.


Conclusion


Custom painters in Flutter are a powerful tool for creating custom designs and visuals in your app. With custom painters, you can draw shapes, images, and patterns directly on the canvas. You can also use advanced painting techniques like gradients, custom shapes, and animations to create more complex designs.


In this blog post, we covered the basics of creating custom painters in Flutter. We started with a simple example that drew a rectangle on the canvas, and then built on that example to create more complex designs. We also covered some advanced painting techniques like gradient colors, custom shapes, and animated painters.


Custom painters are a great way to add a personal touch to your app's design. They can be used to create custom buttons, icons, and backgrounds. They can also be used to create custom animations and visual effects. With custom painters, the possibilities are endless.


If you want to learn more about custom painters in Flutter, be sure to check out the official Flutter documentation. The documentation includes many more examples and detailed explanations of the various painting techniques you can use.


Thank you for reading this blog post on custom painters in Flutter. I hope you found it helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

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