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Java - rounded corner panel with compositing in paintComponent

From the original question (below), I am now offering a bounty for the following:

An AlphaComposite based solution for rounded corners.

  • Please demonstrate with a JPanel.
  • Corners must be completely transparent.
  • Must be able to support JPG painting, but still have rounded corners
  • Must not use setClip (or any clipping)
  • Must have decent performance

Hopefully someone picks this up quick, it seems easy.

I will also award the bounty if there is a well-explained reason why this can never be done, that others agree with.

Here is a sample image of what I have in mind (but usingAlphaComposite)enter image description here

Original question

I've been trying to figure out a way to do rounded corners using compositing, very similar to How to make a rounded corner image in Java or

However, my attempts without an intermediate BufferedImage don't work - the rounded destination composite apparently doesn't affect the source. I've tried different things but nothing works. Should be getting a rounded red rectangle, instead I'm getting a square one.

So, I have two questions, really:

1) Is there a way to make this work?

2) Will an intermediate image actually generate better performance?


the test panel TPanel

import java.awt.AlphaComposite;
import java.awt.Color;
import java.awt.Dimension;
import java.awt.Graphics;
import java.awt.Graphics2D;

import javax.swing.JLabel;

public class TPanel extends JLabel {
int w = 300;
int h = 200;

public TPanel() {
    setPreferredSize(new Dimension(w, h));
        setMaximumSize(new Dimension(w, h));
        setMinimumSize(new Dimension(w, h));

public void paintComponent(Graphics g) {
    Graphics2D g2d = (Graphics2D) g.create();

    // Yellow is the clipped area.
    g2d.fillRoundRect(0, 0, w, h, 20, 20);

    // Red simulates the image.

    g2d.fillRect(0, 0, w, h);

and its Sandbox

import java.awt.Dimension;
import java.awt.FlowLayout;

import javax.swing.JFrame;

public class Sandbox {
public static void main(String[] args) {
    JFrame f = new JFrame();
        f.setMinimumSize(new Dimension(800, 600));
        f.setLayout(new FlowLayout());

        TPanel pnl = new TPanel();



  • With respect to your performance concerns the Java 2D Trickery article contains a link to a very good explanation by Chet Haase on the usage of Intermediate Images.

    I think the following excerpt from O'Reilly's Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell could be helpful to you in order to make sense of the AlphaComposite behaviour and why intermediate images may be the necessary technique to use.

    The AlphaComposite Compositing Rules

    The SRC_OVER compositing rule draws a possibly translucent source color over the destination color. This is what we typically want to happen when we perform a graphics operation. But the AlphaComposite object actually allows colors to be combined according to seven other rules as well.

    Before we consider the compositing rules in detail, there is an important point you need to understand. Colors displayed on the screen never have an alpha channel. If you can see a color, it is an opaque color. The precise color value may have been chosen based on a transparency calculation, but, once that color is chosen, the color resides in the memory of a video card somewhere and does not have an alpha value associated with it. In other words, with on-screen drawing, destination pixels always have alpha values of 1.0.

    The situation is different when you are drawing into an off-screen image, however. As you'll see when we consider the Java 2D BufferedImage class later in this chapter, you can specify the desired color representation when you create an off-screen image. By default, a BufferedImage object represents an image as an array of RGB colors, but you can also create an image that is an array of ARGB colors. Such an image has alpha values associated with it, and when you draw into the images, the alpha values remain associated with the pixels you draw.

    This distinction between on-screen and off-screen drawing is important because some of the compositing rules perform compositing based on the alpha values of the destination pixels, rather than the alpha values of the source pixels. With on-screen drawing, the destination pixels are always opaque (with alpha values of 1.0), but with off-screen drawing, this need not be the case. Thus, some of the compositing rules only are useful when you are drawing into off-screen images that have an alpha channel.

    To overgeneralize a bit, we can say that when you are drawing on-screen, you typically stick with the default SRC_OVER compositing rule, use opaque colors, and vary the alpha value used by the AlphaComposite object. When working with off-screen images that have alpha channels, however, you can make use of other compositing rules. In this case, you typically use translucent colors and translucent images and an AlphaComposite object with an alpha value of 1.0.