Optimal width and height after image rotation

A while ago, a blog reader Fabien sent me some code (you can read it here. Thanks Fabien!). The PHP code is a modification of my image rotation code with some upgrades.

I was looking through his code (French variable names!) and was puzzled by the initial section. I believe he based his code on my code where the resulting image wasn’t clipped after rotation, meaning the whole image was still in the picture/bitmap (though rotated).

In that piece of code, I just used the diagonal length of the image (from top-left corner to bottom-right corner) as the final length and breadth of the resulting image. This gave the simplest resulting image dimension without doing complicated maths calculations (a square in this case).

However, what if you want to know the optimal width and height of the resulting image after rotation? Meaning the best-fit width and height that just manages to contain the resulting rotated image. For that, I need to tell you some basic trigonometry and geometry.

Image rotation, optimal width and height

Suppose you have a rectangle with L as the length and H as the height. It is rotated t angles. I’m not going to explain the maths behind it. It involves complementary angles, supplementary angles, rotation symmetry and trigonometry with sines and cosines. Convince yourself that the diagram is true.

So after rotating t angles, the optimal width is L * cos(t) + H * cos(90 – t)

The optimal height is L * sin(t) + H * sin(90 – t)

Short digression: You might notice that any lengths that lie parallel to the x-axis usually involve cosines, and lengths that lie parallel to the y-axis usually involve sines. It’s just the way trigonometry works.

Now, although the image rotation is carried out with respect to the image’s centre, rotating by the top-left corner will result in the same optimal width and height. Again, this is basic maths so you’ll just have to convince yourself it’s true (and that I don’t really want to explain it…).

But that’s if t is an acute angle. What about other angles?

Image rotation, optimal width and height

For those angles, we just need to calculate the acute angle based on the initial rotation angle. After that, just substitute that calculated acute angle into our formula above. I have absolute confidence in your ability to check which quadrant in the Cartesian coordinate system does your rotation angle lie in.

UPDATE: In case you are unable to view images, if your rotation angle is in the 2nd quadrant, the calculated angle is (180 – t). If in the 3rd quadrant, it’s (t – 180). And if in the 4th quadrant, it’s (360 – t).

In practice, you might still want to pad a couple of pixels around. But that should give you the smallest image dimension which can still contain your rotated image.

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