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Custom Button Control with Gradient Colors and Extra Image (VB.NET)

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19 Mar 2015CPOL7 min read 787.8K   46.6K   231   285
This is a simple to use custom button control, but with a lot of visual design options.

Image 1


The CButton is a simple custom button control written in VB.NET. Sorry I didn't realize the "C" prefix was a language specific thing when I started. It is just short for Custom Button. I won't let it happen again. This is a great alternative to the plain Microsoft button.

Important Note For Existing Users of versions earlier than 3.4.

With Version 3.5 the DesignerRectTracker Class is no longer needed and will require some designer clean up of existing projects that use the old control and will be using the new one. (See further below for more details)

Here is a list of the primary features:

  1. Change the Shape of the button
  2. Adjust the corners of a round rectangle
  3. Solid and Multi color Fills
  4. Text shadow and margin
  5. Adjustable rollover and click color change with simulated click movement
  6. Normal button image and/or additional sideimage

I improved design time editing in Version 1.2 by adding UITypeEditors and ControlDesigners. See UITypeEditorsDemo[^] for a detailed explanation. This enabled me to combine some properties into one single property, or improve on others.

For example:

  • ButtonColorA, ButtonColorB, and ButtonColorC were combined into ColorFillBlend allowing unlimited Color blend instead of being limited to only three colors
  • ButtonColorCenterPoint, and ButtonColorCenterPtOffset were combined into FocalPoints
  • CornerRadius became an expandable property Corners allowing each corner to be adjusted separately

Image 2


Here is another example of needing (well, let's be honest, a plain button would work, so I wanted) a better looking and visually versatile button. There are a lot of great button controls already, but not with all the features I was looking for. Basically, I created the properties I was looking for, and then took over the OnPaint to draw it the way I wanted.

Control Properties

Here is a list of the primary properties:

  • Shape

    What shape the button is (Rectangle, Ellipse, Triangle)

  • ColorFillBlend

    Colors to use in gradient blend fills

  • BorderColor, BorderShow

    Show the border in a different color

  • FillType

    What color gradient type to use (Solid, Linear, or Path)

  • FocalPoints

    CenterPoint and FocusScales for Path Gradient Type Fills

  • Corners

    Radius for each corner arc

  • DimFactorHover, DimFactorClick

    Number to adjust the buttons color during mouse rollover and click

  • TextShadow, TextShadowShow

    Show or not show the shadow of the text and in what color

  • TextMargin

    Push the text away from the inside edge of the button

  • TextSmoothingMode

    Set the TextRenderingHint of the Graphics Object for better looking text

  • SideImage

    Add an extra image that can be placed outside the button surface

  • Padding

    Offset the edges of the ButtonArea from the edge of the Control

Using the Code

Once you get the CButton designed the way you want, there isn't really any complicated code. Just use it like a normal button.

Because the Click event fires if you click anywhere on the control, I added two new Events; the ClickButtonArea event in Version 1.1 to fire only when the mouse clicks inside the button part of the control, and the SideImageClicked event in Version 2.0.

    'Add a new Click event for only when the ButtonArea or SideImage is Clicked
    Public Event ClickButtonArea(ByVal Sender As Object, _
        ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs)
    Public Event SideImageClicked(ByVal Sender As Object, _
        ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs)

Private Sub CButton_MouseUp(ByVal sender As Object, _
    ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs) Handles Me.MouseUp
    If MouseDrawState = eMouseDrawState.Down _
        Then RaiseEvent ClickButtonArea(Me, New EventArgs)
    MouseDrawState = eMouseDrawState.Up
End Sub

Points of Interest

The control is just a process of layering the parts together in the right positions. There are four main areas to track. The control area, button area, text area, and image area. The button area is reduced from the control area by the control padding values. The text area is reduced from the button area by the text margin values and the image area. The image area is based on the image size. The items are placed into these areas based on their layout options.

Protected Overrides Sub _
		OnPaint(ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs)
		e.Graphics.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.AntiAlias
		e.Graphics.TextRenderingHint = _TextSmoothingMode
		'Gray the Text and Border Colors if Disabled
		Dim bColor, tColor, tsColor As Color
		If Enabled Then
			bColor = _BorderColor
			tColor = ForeColor
			tsColor = _TextShadow
			bColor = GrayTheColor(_BorderColor)
			tColor = GrayTheColor(ForeColor)
			tsColor = GrayTheColor(_TextShadow)
		End If

		Using MyPen As New Pen(bColor)
			MyPen.Alignment = PenAlignment.Inset

			'Shrink the Area so the Border draws correctly, _
			'then trim off the Padding to get the button surface area
			ButtonArea = AdjustRect(New RectangleF(0, 0, _
				Size.Width - 1, Size.Height - 1), Padding)

			'Create the ButtonArea Path
			Using gp As GraphicsPath = GetPath()

				If BackgroundImage Is Nothing Then

					'Color the ButtonArea with the right Brush
					Select Case FillType
						Case eFillType.Solid
							Using br As Brush = New SolidBrush(GetFill)
								e.Graphics.FillPath(br, gp)
							End Using

						Case eFillType.GradientPath
							Using br As PathGradientBrush = _
                                                                          New PathGradientBrush(gp)
								Dim cb As New ColorBlend
								cb.Colors = GetFillBlend()
								cb.Positions = ColorFillBlend.iPoint

								br.FocusScales = _
								br.CenterPoint = New PointF( _
									Padding.Left + _
                                                                        ButtonArea.Width * _
                                                                        FocalPoints.CenterPoint.X, _
									Padding.Top + _
                                                                        ButtonArea.Height * _
								br.InterpolationColors = cb

								e.Graphics.FillPath(br, gp)
							End Using

						Case eFillType.GradientLinear
							Using br As LinearGradientBrush = _
                                                                New LinearGradientBrush( _
							  ButtonArea, Color.White, Color.White, _
								Dim cb As New ColorBlend
								cb.Colors = GetFillBlend()
								cb.Positions = ColorFillBlend.iPoint
								'MsgBox(cb.Colors.Length & _
								br.InterpolationColors = cb

								e.Graphics.FillPath(br, gp)
							End Using

					End Select
				End If

				If MyBase.Focused AndAlso ShowFocus = eFocus.Dot Then
					Using focusPen As Pen = New Pen(Brushes.Black, 1) _
                                             With {.DashStyle = DashStyle.Dot}
						e.Graphics.DrawPath(focusPen, GetPath(-1, -1))
					End Using
				End If

				If BorderShow Then
					e.Graphics.DrawPath(MyPen, gp)
				End If

			End Using

			Dim ipt As PointF = ImageLocation(GetStringFormat(SideImageAlign), _
				Size, SideImageSize)

			rectSideImage = New Rectangle(CInt(ipt.X), CInt(ipt.Y), _
				SideImageSize.Width, SideImageSize.Height)

			'Put the SideImage behind the Text
			If SideImageBehindText AndAlso SideImage IsNot Nothing Then
				If Enabled Then
					e.Graphics.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.None
					e.Graphics.DrawImage(SideImage, ipt.X, ipt.Y, _
						SideImageSize.Width, SideImageSize.Height)
					ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(e.Graphics, _
					New Bitmap(SideImage, SideImageSize.Width, _
					SideImageSize.Height), _
					CInt(ipt.X), CInt(ipt.Y), BackColor)
				End If
			End If

			'Layout the Text and Image on the button surface

			If Not Image Is Nothing Then
				If Enabled Then
					e.Graphics.DrawImage(Image, Imagept.X, Imagept.Y, _
						ImageSize.Width, ImageSize.Height)
					ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(e.Graphics, _
						New Bitmap(Image, ImageSize.Width, ImageSize.Height), _
						CInt(Imagept.X), CInt(Imagept.Y), BackColor)
				End If
			End If

			'Draw the Text and Shadow
			If TextShadowShow Then
				TextArea.Offset(1, 1)
				e.Graphics.DrawString(Text, Font, _
					New SolidBrush(tsColor), TextArea, GetStringFormat(TextAlign))
				TextArea.Offset(-1, -1)
			End If
			e.Graphics.DrawString(Text, Font, _
				New SolidBrush(tColor), TextArea, GetStringFormat(TextAlign))

			'Put the SideImage in front of the Text
			If Not SideImageBehindText AndAlso Not SideImage Is Nothing Then
				If Enabled Then
					e.Graphics.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.None
					e.Graphics.DrawImage(SideImage, ipt.X, ipt.Y, _
						SideImageSize.Width, SideImageSize.Height)
					ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(e.Graphics, _
					New Bitmap(SideImage, _
					SideImageSize.Width, SideImageSize.Height), _
					CInt(ipt.X), CInt(ipt.Y), BackColor)
				End If
			End If

		End Using
    End Sub

To Gray the colors when the control is disabled, I used two methods:

Image 3

To Gray a single color, I used this Function:

Function GrayTheColor(ByVal GrayColor As Color) As Color
   Dim gray As Integer = _
    CInt(GrayColor.R * 0.3 + GrayColor.G * 0.59 + GrayColor.B * 0.11)
   Return Color.FromArgb(GrayColor.A, gray, gray, gray)
End Function

To Gray an Image, I originally used this Function:

Private Function EnableDisableImage(ByVal img As Image) As Bitmap
    If Me.Enabled Then Return img
    Dim bm As Bitmap = New Bitmap(img.Width, img.Height)
    Dim g As Graphics = Graphics.FromImage(bm)
    Dim cm As ColorMatrix = New ColorMatrix(New Single()() _
         {New Single() {0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0, 0}, _
        New Single() {0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0, 0}, _
        New Single() {0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0, 0}, _
        New Single() {0, 0, 0, 1, 0}, _
        New Single() {0, 0, 0, 0, 1}})

    Dim ia As ImageAttributes = New ImageAttributes()
    g.DrawImage(img, New Rectangle(0, 0, img.Width, img.Height), 0, 0, _
        img.Width, img.Height, GraphicsUnit.Pixel, ia)
    Return bm

End Function

In Version 2.0, I switched to the ControlPaint function because I thought the image was better looking.

ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(e.Graphics, Me.Image, _
    CInt(Imagept.X), CInt(Imagept.Y), Me.BackColor)

Corners, Padding Margins, and FocalPoint Adorners

New in Version 3.5, Adorners and Glyphs are added to the ControlDesigner. For an Explanation of Adorners Glyphs Behavior and ControlDesigner for WinForms, go to this link.

The Corners, ButtonArea (Padding), TextMargin, and Focal Points can all be edited in the PropertyGrid. This can be a bit tedious and unintuitive. With the use of Adorners and Glyphs, these properties can be edited directly on the control with the mouse.


Selecting the control will display three buttons just off the upper right corner of the control.

Image 4

Corner Adorner

Click of the (C)orner button to display five corner glyphs. Move the four corner glyphs back and forth to adjust each corner individually. Move the center glyph to adjust all four corners to the same value.

Image 5

FocalPoints Adorner

Click the (F)ocalPoints button to get the Center and FocalScale glyphs just like the old version. This only works when the FillType is GradientPath. A small square and circle selection will appear on the control. Drag the circle around to move the CenterPoint, and drag the square to move the FocusScales. Hold the Shift Key down and click the glyph to reset the Center to the middle of the button or reset the FocusScale to 0.

Image 6

Padding Margin Adorner

Click the (P)adding to adjust the ButtonArea (Padding Property) and the TextMargin Property. A dotted line will mark the location of the margin. Drag each side around to adjust. If the two margins directly overlap, the Padding will select first. Hold the Shift key down to force the TextMargin to select.

.Image 7

Important Upgrade Note for version 3.5+

This control has been around for a long time and based on downloads and comments, quite a few people are using it. The Adorner upgrade made the use of the DesignerRectTracker Class unnecessary. If you use version 3.5 in a project, you used previous versions in which you will get a bunch of errors in any Form you have an old CButton in.

Image 8

This is painfully tedious, but you need to delete all of these lines that have an error to get rid of all references to the old trackers in the Form's Designer.

If anyone knows of a way to clean these out easier or in bulk, I would love to know.

The fastest way I have found to do it so far is to open a form designer window and Search (Ctrl-F) for DesignerRectTracker. Then press F3 to find and the Ctrl-L to detete the line of code. After I got the rhythm, it went pretty quick.

TypeConverter for ColorFillBlend

New in Version 2.0, a TypeConverter for the ColorFillBlend can convert a String representation of the blend to a cBlendItems to allow more precise tweaking and to easily copy a blend from one cButton to another.

Image 9


  • Version 1.0 - May 2008
  • Version 1.1 - July 2008
    • Updated "Clickable Region" and added a ClickButtonArea event
  • Version 1.2 - September 2008
    • Updated Properties to use UITypeEditors and ControlDesigner
    • Added Triangular Buttons
  • Version 1.3 - September 2008
    • Button Area Click Fix. The button did not click when the mouse was moving
  • Version 1.4 - October 2008
    • Added Enable/Disable Feature
  • Version 1.5 - December 2008
    • Fixed the FocalPoints and Corners properties to immediately refresh the control when the child properties are changed in the PropertyGrid
    • Removed FocalPoints Modal UITypeEditor and added direct adjustment of the points on the design surface
  • Version 1.6 - January 2009
    • Added Mnemonic Keys based on NfErNo's suggestion.
  • Version 1.7 - April 2009
    • Added SendMessage for click through non button area
  • Version 1.8 - November 2009
    • Added Key events based on getholdofphil's suggestion
    • Fixed focus problem
  • Version 1.9 - July 2010
    • Switched the Disable Image routine to ControlPaint method
    • Added TextSmoothingMode property
    • Added SideImageClicked Event
    • Changed the ClickButtonArea EventArgs to MouseEventArgs to pass the mouse button easier
  • Version 2.0 - December 2011
    • Added IButtonControl Interface for PerformClick and DialogResult
    • Added BlendItemsConverter to the cBlendItem Type
  • Version 2.0 - January 2013
    • Added Visual Studio 2012 version
  • Version 3.4 - March 2015
    • Added ShowFocus Property
  • Version 3.5 - April 2015
    • Removed ControlDesigner Adorner Override and Added real Adorners and Glyphs (See important Note Above before replacing Version 3.4 or earlier in existing projects.)
    • Added ButtonAreaUp and ButtonAreaDown
  • Version 3.6 May 2015
    • Fixed SideImage Click after MouseUp/Down broke it


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Software Developer
United States United States
I first got hooked on programing with the TI994A. After it finally lost all support I reluctantly moved to the Apple IIe. Thank You BeagleBros for getting me through. I wrote programs for my Scuba buisness during this time. Currently I am a Database manager and software developer. I started with VBA and VB6 and now having fun with VB.NET/WPF/C#...

Comments and Discussions

GeneralTransparency color Pin
xm.xm12-Jan-09 6:42
xm.xm12-Jan-09 6:42 
AnswerRe: Transparency color Pin
SSDiver211212-Jan-09 7:58
SSDiver211212-Jan-09 7:58 
GeneralRe: Transparency color Pin
xm.xm12-Jan-09 8:59
xm.xm12-Jan-09 8:59 
GeneralGreat Control - Made an adjustment you might like to add Pin
Member 441471129-Dec-08 9:46
Member 441471129-Dec-08 9:46 
QuestionProbably a stupid question Pin
zuurg26-Nov-08 13:20
zuurg26-Nov-08 13:20 
AnswerRe: Probably a stupid question Pin
SSDiver211226-Nov-08 16:40
SSDiver211226-Nov-08 16:40 
GeneralRe: Probably a stupid question Pin
Maurice Bernhard27-Jul-09 4:52
Maurice Bernhard27-Jul-09 4:52 
GeneralGreat Work! Pin
Pat Tormey8-Oct-08 1:28
Pat Tormey8-Oct-08 1:28 
Hey SSDiver2112,
Thanks for posting. I never understood why buttons have to be so boring (g)

New Hampshire USA
GeneralClicking button causes form to close Pin
jlkInLeesburg21-Jul-08 12:41
jlkInLeesburg21-Jul-08 12:41 
GeneralRe: Clicking button causes form to close Pin
SSDiver211221-Jul-08 12:53
SSDiver211221-Jul-08 12:53 
GeneralRe: Clicking button causes form to close Pin
jlkInLeesburg21-Jul-08 13:16
jlkInLeesburg21-Jul-08 13:16 
GeneralRe: Clicking button causes form to close Pin
SSDiver211221-Jul-08 18:57
SSDiver211221-Jul-08 18:57 
AnswerRe: Using Mnemonic Keys Pin
NfErNo26-Dec-08 18:55
NfErNo26-Dec-08 18:55 
GeneralBeagle Brothers Pin
whelbig10-Jun-08 15:20
whelbig10-Jun-08 15:20 
GeneralInteresting but... Pin
Jaime Olivares3-Jun-08 14:32
Jaime Olivares3-Jun-08 14:32 
GeneralRe: Interesting but... [modified] Pin
Johnny J.3-Jun-08 22:18
professionalJohnny J.3-Jun-08 22:18 
AnswerRe: Interesting but... Pin
SSDiver21124-Jun-08 5:37
SSDiver21124-Jun-08 5:37 
GeneralA picture says a thousand words... Pin
PIEBALDconsult3-Jun-08 10:11
professionalPIEBALDconsult3-Jun-08 10:11 

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