Resources for visualizing data using C# and the .NET platform
Update and render a platform-agnostic graphics model using WPF

This page demonstrates a simple method for animating graphics in WPF. In this example we use the Starfield graphics model to keep track of star positions and sizes and implement a renderer inside our Window which uses System.Drawing to draw stars on a Bitmap displayed on an Image inside a Canvas. A DispatchTimer will be used to continuously advance the graphics model and trigger rendering. Controls let the user adjust the number of stars and their transparency, but also serve as a way to assess GUI responsiveness.



    <DockPanel DockPanel.Dock="Top">
        <StackPanel DockPanel.Dock="Left">
            <RadioButton Content="500 stars" IsChecked="True" Checked="Set500Stars"/>
            <RadioButton Content="100,000 stars" Checked="Set100kStars"/>
        <StackPanel DockPanel.Dock="Right">
            <Label Content="Alpha" FontSize="14"/>
            <Label FontSize="26" Width="80"
                    Content="{Binding ElementName=mySlider, Path=Value}" 
        <Slider x:Name="mySlider" Maximum="100" Value="100" TickPlacement="BottomRight" />

    <Canvas x:Name="myCanvas">
        <Image x:Name="myImage"/>


readonly Field field = new Field(500);

public MainWindow()

    DispatcherTimer timer = new DispatcherTimer();
    timer.Interval = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(1);
    timer.Tick += timer_Tick;

void timer_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e)
    Bitmap bmp = new Bitmap((int)myCanvas.ActualWidth, (int)myCanvas.ActualHeight);
    byte alpha = (byte)(mySlider.Value * 255 / 100);
    var starColor = System.Drawing.Color.FromArgb(alpha, 255, 255, 255);
    field.Render(bmp, starColor);
    myImage.Source = BmpImageFromBmp(bmp);

⚠️ WARNING: This method blocks the GUI thread while rendering. This is not noticeable if your renderer is very fast, but this can result in laggy applications if your renderer takes more than a few milliseconds. We will explore how to render graphics without blocking the GUI thread in a future article.

💡 Install the System.Drawing.Common NuGet package even if you don’t think you need it. Using the common library instead of native System.Drawing will ensure your program can be compiled for .NET Core if you decide to upgrade later. It also ensures you can pass System.Drawing objects to .NET Standard libraries which use System.Drawing.Common under the hood.

Convert a Bitmap to a BitmapImage

private BitmapImage BmpImageFromBmp(Bitmap bmp)
    using (var memory = new System.IO.MemoryStream())
        bmp.Save(memory, System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat.Png);
        memory.Position = 0;

        var bitmapImage = new BitmapImage();
        bitmapImage.StreamSource = memory;
        bitmapImage.CacheOption = BitmapCacheOption.OnLoad;

        return bitmapImage;

Source Code