We develop a generalized active contour formalism for image segmentation based on shape templates. The shape template is subjected to a restricted affine transformation (RAT) in order to segment the object of interest. RAT allows for translation, rotation, and scaling, which give a total of five degrees of freedom. The proposed active contour comprises an inner and outer contour pair, which are closed and concentric. The active contour energy is a contrast function defined based on the intensities of pixels that lie inside the inner contour and those that lie in the annulus between the inner and outer contours. We show that the contrast energy functional is optimal under certain conditions. The optimal RAT parameters are computed by maximizing the contrast function using a gradient descent optimizer. We show that the calculations are made efficient through use of Green's theorem. The proposed formalism is capable of handling a variety of shapes because for a chosen template, optimization is carried with respect to the RAT parameters only. The proposed formalism is validated on multiple images to show robustness to Gaussian and Poisson noise, to initialization, and to partial loss of structure in the object to be segmented.