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Using SDL2: Drawing Rectangles

noah11012 profile image Noah11012 Updated on ・2 min read

Along with the new 2D hardware accelerated API in SDL2, we can draw primitive shapes like rectangles. Two functions, SDL_RenderDrawRect() and SDL_RenderFillRect() are functions that can be used to draw rectangles on the screen. The difference between the two will be discussed later.

Both of these functions take a pointer to an SDL_Rect for its position and dimensions. Because both are apart of the hardware rendering API, each takes a pointer to an SDL_Renderer.

SDL_RenderDrawRect() draws the outline of a rectangle while SDL_RenderFillRect draws a rectangle filled.

Before we draw any rectangles to the screen, we can change the color it will use with SDL_SetRenderDrawColor() which takes four arguments:

  • An SDL_Renderer
  • Red value from 0-255
  • Green value from 0-255
  • Blue value from 0-255
  • Alpha value from 0-255

Reusing the Application class from before the Pong series, we have the following code:

void Application::draw()

    SDL_Rect rect;
    rect.x = 250;
    rect.y = 150;
    rect.w = 200;
    rect.h = 200;

    SDL_SetRenderDrawColor(m_window_renderer, 255, 255, 255, 255);
    SDL_RenderDrawRect(m_window_renderer, &rect);

    SDL_SetRenderDrawColor(m_window_renderer, 0, 0, 0, 255);

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Compile and run.

For the filled version is just as simple:

void Application::draw()
    SDL_RenderFillRect(m_window_renderer, &rect);


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Compile and run.

In addition to rectangles, SDL2 supports two other primitives. Namely, lines and points.

We will take a look at both quickly.


  • SDL_Renderer
  • x value for the beginning point
  • y value for the beginning point
  • x value for the end point
  • y value for the end point


  • SDL_Renderer
  • x value for the position
  • y value for the position

What's next

For the next post, we will learn how to manipulate the viewport to render certain parts of the world.

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Discussion (1)

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blakeb211 profile image

If I used SDL_HARDWARE_ACCELERATED to get my renderer, do I get more benefits of the hardware acceleration by batching the primitives I draw? For example using RenderDrawLines and RenderDrawRects calls with things batched? Separate but related--Is there any way to tell that I'm actually getting a hardware acceleration?