Easy Image Processing in R using the Magick Package

Example of image

Easy Image Processing in R using the Magick Package

This article describes how to perform image processing in R using the magick R package, which is binded to ImageMagick library: the most comprehensive open-source image processing library available.

The magick R package supports:

  • Many common formats: png, jpeg, tiff, pdf, etc
  • Different manipulations types: rotate, scale, crop, trim, flip, blur, etc.

All operations are vectorized using the Magick++ STL meaning they operate either on a single frame or a series of frames for working with layers, collages, or animation.

In RStudio images are automatically previewed when printed to the console, resulting in an interactive editing environment.



  • For Mac OS or Windowns:
  • For Linux, you can install from source
  1. Install system requirements:
sudo apt-get install -y libmagick++-dev
  1. Install the R package

Load the package


Formats supported by ImageMagick on your system

## List of 21
##  $ version           :Class 'numeric_version'  hidden list of 1
##   ..$ : int [1:4] 6 9 6 6
##  $ modules           : logi FALSE
##  $ cairo             : logi TRUE
##  $ fontconfig        : logi TRUE
##  $ freetype          : logi TRUE
##  $ fftw              : logi FALSE
##  $ ghostscript       : logi FALSE
##  $ jpeg              : logi TRUE
##  $ lcms              : logi FALSE
##  $ libopenjp2        : logi FALSE
##  $ lzma              : logi TRUE
##  $ pangocairo        : logi TRUE
##  $ pango             : logi TRUE
##  $ png               : logi TRUE
##  $ rsvg              : logi TRUE
##  $ tiff              : logi TRUE
##  $ webp              : logi TRUE
##  $ wmf               : logi FALSE
##  $ x11               : logi FALSE
##  $ xml               : logi TRUE
##  $ zero-configuration: logi TRUE

Image editing: Read, Write and Convert images

Key R functions:

image_read(path, density = NULL, depth = NULL, strip = FALSE)

image_write(image, path = NULL, format = NULL, quality = NULL,
  depth = NULL, density = NULL, comment = NULL, flatten = FALSE)

image_convert(image, format = NULL, type = NULL, colorspace = NULL,
  depth = NULL, antialias = NULL)

The input image file format can be a file path, URL, or raw vector with image data.

Read an image into R.

frink <- image_read("https://jeroen.github.io/images/frink.png")
## print(frink)

Example of image

# Shows some meta data about the image
##   format width height colorspace matte filesize
## 1    PNG   220    445       sRGB  TRUE    73494

Export an image in any format to a file on disk. You can specify the format parameter to convert the image to another format.

# Render png to jpeg
image_write(frink, path = "frink.jpg", format = "jpeg", quality = 75)

If path is a filename, image_write returns path on success such that the result can be piped into function taking a file path.

Convert image formats. You can internally convert the image to another format earlier, before applying transformations. This can be useful if your original format is lossy.

frink_jpeg <- image_convert(frink, "jpeg")
##   format width height colorspace matte filesize
## 1   JPEG   220    445       sRGB  TRUE        0

Note that size is currently 0 because ImageMagick is lazy (in the good sense) and does not render until it has to.

Image preview.

  • Magick images are automatically displayed in RStudio viewer
  • You can also use image_browse() to open the image in your system’s default application for a given type.
  • On Linux you can use image_display() to preview the image in an X11 window.

Images preview

Image transformations

Cut and edit

Several of the transformation functions take an geometry parameter which requires a special syntax of the form AxB+C+D where each element is optional. Some examples:

  • image_trim(image): Trims margin.
  • image_crop(image, geometry = "100x150+50"): crop out width:100px and height:150px starting +50px from the left
  • image_scale(image, geometry = "200"): resize proportionally to width: 200px
  • image_scale(image, grometry = "x200"): resize proportionally to height: 200px
  • image_fill(image, color = "blue", point = "+100+200"): flood fill with blue starting at the point at x:100, y:200
  • image_border(frink, color = "red", geometry = "20x10"): adds a border of 20px left+right and 10px top+bottom

Change image border and background:

# Add 20px left/right and 10px top/bottom
image_border(image_background(frink, "hotpink"), "#000080", "20x10")

Change image border and background

Trim margins:


Crop the image. Options are here width:100px and height:150px starting +50px from the left

image_crop(frink, "100x150+50")

Crop an image

Resize the image:

# Width: 300px
image_scale(frink, "300") 
# Height: 300px
image_scale(frink, "x300") 

Rotate or mirror the image

image_rotate(frink, 45)

Rotate or miror images

Modulate and paint an image:

# Change the brightness, the saturation and the Hue
image_modulate(frink, brightness = 80, saturation = 120, hue = 90)

# Paint the shirt in blue
image_fill(frink, "blue", point = "+100+200", fuzz = 20)

Modulate and paint images

With image_fill we can flood fill starting at pixel point. The fuzz parameter allows for the fill to cross for adjacent pixels with similarish colors. Its value must be between 0 and 256^2 specifying the max geometric distance between colors to be considered equal. Here we give professor frink a blue shirt.

Text annotations

# Add some text
  frink, text = "I like R!", size = 70, color = "green",
  gravity = "southwest"

# Customize text
  frink, text = "CONFIDENTIAL", size = 30, 
  color = "red", boxcolor = "pink",
  degrees = 60, location = "+50+100",
  font = "Times"

Text annotations

Fonts that are supported on most platforms include "sans", "mono", "serif", "Times", "Helvetica", "Trebuchet", "Georgia", "Palatino"or "Comic Sans".


Stack layers on top of each other

Import and scale images:

bigdata <- image_read('https://jeroen.github.io/images/bigdata.jpg')
frink <- image_read("https://jeroen.github.io/images/frink.png")
logo <- image_read("https://jeroen.github.io/images/Rlogo.png")
img <- c(bigdata, logo, frink)
img <- image_scale(img, "300x300")
##   format width height colorspace matte filesize
## 1   JPEG   300    225       sRGB FALSE        0
## 2    PNG   300    232       sRGB  TRUE        0
## 3    PNG   148    300       sRGB  TRUE        0

Print images:

# Prints images on top of one another

# Create a single image which has the size of the first image

# Adding images
image_flatten(img, 'Add')

# Modulate images
image_flatten(img, 'Modulate')

# Minus
image_flatten(img, 'Minus')

Stack layers

Combining or appending images

Put the image frames next to each other:

image_append(image_scale(img, "x200"))

Append Images

Stack images on top of each other:

image_append(image_scale(img, "100"), stack = TRUE) 

Stack Images

Composing allows for combining two images on a specific position:

bigdatafrink <- image_scale(image_rotate(image_background(frink, "none"), 300), "x200")
image_composite(image_scale(bigdata, "x400"), bigdatafrink, offset = "+180+100")

Image processing

Create GIF animation

Animating image frames:

image_animate(image_scale(img, "200x200"), fps = 1, dispose = "previous")

Gif animation

Creates a sequence of n images that gradually morph one image into another.

newlogo <- image_scale(image_read("https://jeroen.github.io/images/Rlogo.png"))
oldlogo <- image_scale(image_read("https://developer.r-project.org/Logo/Rlogo-3.png"))
image_resize(c(oldlogo, newlogo), '200x150!') %>%
  image_background('white') %>%
  image_morph() %>%

Gif animation and Morth

Version: Français

Comment ( 1 )

  • Lanne S

    Unable to locate appropriate package to print single max and mode grayscale values for image either individually (as image, as matrix or as vector). Looking to recapitulate Measure() from ImageJ. Magick returns un-useable format ‘magick-image’ that cannot be converted/read as jpeg. Imager gives nonsense values for every column of image as an array. I have some fundamental misunderstanding and don`t know where to start. Any pointers appreciated.

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