Detect Faces using Haar Cascades and OpenCV

Detect Faces using Haar Cascades and OpenCV

Object detection based on Haar cascades is a machine learning technique where a cascade function is trained using positive and negative images. It is used to detect objects in an image, such as faces.

Download image for testing:

curl -o test.jpg

Download pretrained Haar cascade model:

curl -o haarcascade_frontalface_alt.xml

CascadeClassifier is created, and Haar cascade model is loaded from an XML file. The detectMultiScale method is used to detect faces in an image. The method returns boundary rectangles for the detected faces which displayed on the image.

import cv2

haarCascadeFile = 'haarcascade_frontalface_alt.xml'

img = cv2.imread('test.jpg')
grayImg = cv2.cvtColor(img, cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)

classifier = cv2.CascadeClassifier(haarCascadeFile)
faces = classifier.detectMultiScale(grayImg)

for x, y, w, h in faces:
    cv2.rectangle(img, (x, y), (x + w, y + h), color=(0, 255, 0), thickness=2)

cv2.imshow('Image', img)
#include <opencv2/opencv.hpp>

using namespace cv;

int main()
    std::string haarCascadeFile = "haarcascade_frontalface_alt.xml";

    Mat img = imread("test.jpg");
    Mat grayImg;
    cvtColor(img, grayImg, COLOR_BGR2GRAY);

    CascadeClassifier classifier(haarCascadeFile);
    std::vector<Rect> faces;
    classifier.detectMultiScale(grayImg, faces);

    for (int i = 0; i < faces.size(); i++) {
        rectangle(img, faces[i], Scalar(0, 255, 0), 2);

    imshow("Image", img);

    return 0;
package app;

import org.opencv.core.*;
import org.opencv.highgui.HighGui;
import org.opencv.imgcodecs.Imgcodecs;
import org.opencv.imgproc.Imgproc;
import org.opencv.objdetect.CascadeClassifier;

public class Main
    static { System.loadLibrary(Core.NATIVE_LIBRARY_NAME); }

    public static void main(String[] args)
        String haarCascadeFile = "haarcascade_frontalface_alt.xml";

        Mat img = Imgcodecs.imread("test.jpg");
        Mat grayImg = new Mat();
        Imgproc.cvtColor(img, grayImg, Imgproc.COLOR_BGR2GRAY);

        CascadeClassifier classifier = new CascadeClassifier(haarCascadeFile);
        MatOfRect faces = new MatOfRect();
        classifier.detectMultiScale(grayImg, faces);

        for (int i = 0; i < faces.rows(); i++) {
            Rect face = new Rect(faces.get(i, 0));
            Imgproc.rectangle(img, face, new Scalar(0, 255, 0), 2);

        HighGui.imshow("Image", img);



Detected faces in image using Haar Cascades and OpenCV

The detectMultiScale method accepts two parameters, which can be adjusted if the method detects faces incorrectly or no faces are detected at all.

  • scaleFactor - defines how much the image size should be reduced at each image scale. Default value is 1.1.
  • minNeighbors - defines how many neighbor pixels each candidate rectangle should have to be considered a face. Default value is 3. Higher value results in fewer detections, but with higher quality. Recommended values are 3, 4, 5, or 6.

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