python Machine learning — Building a face detector using Haar
3 min readJan 16, 2023

Face detection is the process of determining the location of the face

in the input image. We will use Haar cascades for face detection. This works by extracting a

large number of simple features from the image at multiple scales. The simple features are

basically edge, line, and rectangle features that are very easy to compute. It is then trained

by creating a cascade of simple classifiers. The Adaptive Boosting technique is used to make

this process robust. You can learn more about it at

d7/d8b/ Let’s take a look at how to

determine the location of a face in the video frames captured from the webcam.

How to do it…

1. Create a new Python file, and import the following packages:

import cv2

import numpy as np

2. Load the face detector cascade file. This is a trained model that we can use as

a detector:

# Load the face cascade file

face_cascade = cv2.CascadeClassifier(‘cascade_files/haarcascade_


3. Check whether the cascade file loaded properly:

# Check if the face cascade file has been loaded

if face_cascade.empty():

raise IOError(‘Unable to load the face cascade classifier xml


4. Create the video capture object:

# Initialize the video capture object

cap = cv2.VideoCapture(0)

5. Define the scaling factor for image downsampling:

# Define the scaling factor

scaling_factor = 0.5

6. Keep looping until you hit the Esc key:

# Loop until you hit the Esc key

while True:

# Capture the current frame and resize it

ret, frame =

7. Resize the frame:

frame = cv2.resize(frame, None, fx=scaling_factor, fy=scaling_



8. Convert the image to grayscale. We need grayscale images to run the face detector:

# Convert to grayscale

gray = cv2.cvtColor(frame, cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)

9. Run the face detector on the grayscale image. The 1.3 parameter refers to the

scale multiplier for each stage. The 5 parameter refers to the minimum number

of neighbors that each candidate rectangle should have so that we can retain it.

This candidate rectangle is basically a potential region where there is a chance

of a face being detected:

# Run the face detector on the grayscale image

face_rects = face_cascade.detectMultiScale(gray, 1.3, 5)

10. For each detected face region, draw a rectangle around it:

# Draw rectangles on the image

for (x,y,w,h) in face_rects:

cv2.rectangle(frame, (x,y), (x+w,y+h), (0,255,0), 3)

11. Display the output image:

# Display the image

cv2.imshow(‘Face Detector’, frame)

12. Wait for 1 ms before going to the next iteration. If the user presses the Esc key,

break out of the loop:

# Check if Esc key has been pressed

c = cv2.waitKey(1)

if c == 27:


13. Release and destroy the objects before exiting the code:

# Release the video capture object and close all windows



14. The full code is given in the file that’s already provided to

you for reference. If you run this code, you will see the face being detected in the

webcam video:



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