Face detection tutorial


In this sample, you'll use the Google Vision API to detect faces in an image. To prove to yourself that the faces were detected correctly, you'll then use that data to draw a box around each face.


In this document, you use the following billable components of Google Cloud:

  • Cloud Vision

To generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage, use the pricing calculator. New Google Cloud users might be eligible for a free trial.

Before you begin

  1. Sign in to your Google Cloud account. If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how our products perform in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.
  2. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  3. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Google Cloud project.

  4. Enable the Google Cloud Vision API.

    Enable the API

  5. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  6. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Google Cloud project.

  7. Enable the Google Cloud Vision API.

    Enable the API

  8. Set up your environment for using Application Default Credentials.
  9. Set up language-specific tasks and tools:



    • Install Java.
    • API reference.
    • Download and install the Apache Maven build system. Maven will ensure that the Google API Client Library and the Vision API client libraries are installed when the project is built, because we have included them in the pom.xml.



    • Install the Google Client Library
    • Install node.js.
    • API reference.
    • Install npm and node-canvas. The sample code includes a package.json to install all dependencies using the command: npm install. Note that node-canvas has additional dependencies you may need to install - see the node-canvas installation doc for more information.

        "name": "nodejs-docs-samples-vision",
        "private": true,
        "license": "Apache-2.0",
        "author": "Google LLC",
        "engines": {
          "node": ">=16.0.0"
        "files": [
        "scripts": {
          "test": "c8 mocha -p -j 2 system-test --timeout 600000"
        "dependencies": {
          "@google-cloud/vision": "^4.0.0",
          "natural": "^6.2.0",
          "pureimage": "^0.3.17",
          "redis": "^4.6.5",
          "yargs": "^17.7.1"
        "devDependencies": {
          "@google-cloud/storage": "^7.0.0",
          "@types/uuid": "^9.0.1",
          "@types/yargs": "^17.0.22",
          "c8": "^8.0.0",
          "chai": "^4.3.7",
          "mocha": "^10.2.0",
          "uuid": "^9.0.0"




Create the service object

To access Google APIs using the official client SDKs, you create a service object based on the API's discovery document, which describes the API to the SDK. You'll need to fetch it from the Vision API's discovery service, using your credentials:


import com.google.api.client.googleapis.javanet.GoogleNetHttpTransport;
import com.google.api.client.json.JsonFactory;
import com.google.api.client.json.gson.GsonFactory;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.Vision;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.VisionScopes;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.AnnotateImageRequest;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.AnnotateImageResponse;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.BatchAnnotateImagesRequest;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.BatchAnnotateImagesResponse;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.FaceAnnotation;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.Feature;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.Image;
import com.google.api.services.vision.v1.model.Vertex;
import com.google.auth.http.HttpCredentialsAdapter;
import com.google.auth.oauth2.GoogleCredentials;
import com.google.common.collect.ImmutableList;
import java.awt.BasicStroke;
import java.awt.Color;
import java.awt.Graphics2D;
import java.awt.Polygon;
import java.awt.image.BufferedImage;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.nio.file.Files;
import java.nio.file.Path;
import java.nio.file.Paths;
import java.security.GeneralSecurityException;
import java.util.List;
import javax.imageio.ImageIO;
/** Connects to the Vision API using Application Default Credentials. */
public static Vision getVisionService() throws IOException, GeneralSecurityException {
  GoogleCredentials credential =
  JsonFactory jsonFactory = GsonFactory.getDefaultInstance();
  return new Vision.Builder(
          new HttpCredentialsAdapter(credential))


// By default, the client will authenticate using the service account file
// specified by the GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS environment variable and use
// the project specified by the GCLOUD_PROJECT environment variable. See
// https://googlecloudplatform.github.io/gcloud-node/#/docs/google-cloud/latest/guides/authentication
const vision = require('@google-cloud/vision');
// Creates a client
const client = new vision.ImageAnnotatorClient();

const fs = require('fs');


from google.cloud import vision
from PIL import Image, ImageDraw
client = vision.ImageAnnotatorClient()

Send a face detection request

To construct a request to the Vision API, first consult the API documentation. In this case, you'll be asking the images resource to annotate your image. A request to this API takes the form of an object with a requests list. Each item in this list contains two bits of information:

  • The base64-encoded image data
  • A list of features you'd like annotated about that image.

For this example, you'll simply request FACE_DETECTION annotation on one image, and return the relevant portion of the response:


/** Gets up to {@code maxResults} faces for an image stored at {@code path}. */
public List<FaceAnnotation> detectFaces(Path path, int maxResults) throws IOException {
  byte[] data = Files.readAllBytes(path);

  AnnotateImageRequest request =
      new AnnotateImageRequest()
          .setImage(new Image().encodeContent(data))
                  new Feature().setType("FACE_DETECTION").setMaxResults(maxResults)));
  Vision.Images.Annotate annotate =
          .annotate(new BatchAnnotateImagesRequest().setRequests(ImmutableList.of(request)));
  // Due to a bug: requests to Vision API containing large images fail when GZipped.

  BatchAnnotateImagesResponse batchResponse = annotate.execute();
  assert batchResponse.getResponses().size() == 1;
  AnnotateImageResponse response = batchResponse.getResponses().get(0);
  if (response.getFaceAnnotations() == null) {
    throw new IOException(
        response.getError() != null
            ? response.getError().getMessage()
            : "Unknown error getting image annotations");
  return response.getFaceAnnotations();


async function detectFaces(inputFile) {
  // Make a call to the Vision API to detect the faces
  const request = {image: {source: {filename: inputFile}}};
  const results = await client.faceDetection(request);
  const faces = results[0].faceAnnotations;
  const numFaces = faces.length;
  console.log(`Found ${numFaces} face${numFaces === 1 ? '' : 's'}.`);
  return faces;


def detect_face(face_file, max_results=4):
    """Uses the Vision API to detect faces in the given file.

        face_file: A file-like object containing an image with faces.

        An array of Face objects with information about the picture.
    client = vision.ImageAnnotatorClient()

    content = face_file.read()
    image = vision.Image(content=content)

    return client.face_detection(image=image, max_results=max_results).face_annotations

Process the response

Congratulations - you've detected the faces in your image! The response to our face annotation request includes a bunch of metadata about the detected faces, which include coordinates of a polygon encompassing the face. At this point, though, this is only a list of numbers. Let's use them to confirm that you have, in fact, found the faces in your image. We'll draw polygons onto a copy of the image, using the coordinates returned by the Vision API:


/** Reads image {@code inputPath} and writes {@code outputPath} with {@code faces} outlined. */
private static void writeWithFaces(Path inputPath, Path outputPath, List<FaceAnnotation> faces)
    throws IOException {
  BufferedImage img = ImageIO.read(inputPath.toFile());
  annotateWithFaces(img, faces);
  ImageIO.write(img, "jpg", outputPath.toFile());

/** Annotates an image {@code img} with a polygon around each face in {@code faces}. */
public static void annotateWithFaces(BufferedImage img, List<FaceAnnotation> faces) {
  for (FaceAnnotation face : faces) {
    annotateWithFace(img, face);

/** Annotates an image {@code img} with a polygon defined by {@code face}. */
private static void annotateWithFace(BufferedImage img, FaceAnnotation face) {
  Graphics2D gfx = img.createGraphics();
  Polygon poly = new Polygon();
  for (Vertex vertex : face.getFdBoundingPoly().getVertices()) {
    poly.addPoint(vertex.getX(), vertex.getY());
  gfx.setStroke(new BasicStroke(5));
  gfx.setColor(new Color(0x00ff00));


We use the node-canvas library to draw onto images.

async function highlightFaces(inputFile, faces, outputFile, PImage) {
  // Open the original image
  const stream = fs.createReadStream(inputFile);
  let promise;
  if (inputFile.match(/\.jpg$/)) {
    promise = PImage.decodeJPEGFromStream(stream);
  } else if (inputFile.match(/\.png$/)) {
    promise = PImage.decodePNGFromStream(stream);
  } else {
    throw new Error(`Unknown filename extension ${inputFile}`);
  const img = await promise;
  const context = img.getContext('2d');
  context.drawImage(img, 0, 0, img.width, img.height, 0, 0);

  // Now draw boxes around all the faces
  context.strokeStyle = 'rgba(0,255,0,0.8)';
  context.lineWidth = '5';

  faces.forEach(face => {
    let origX = 0;
    let origY = 0;
    face.boundingPoly.vertices.forEach((bounds, i) => {
      if (i === 0) {
        origX = bounds.x;
        origY = bounds.y;
        context.moveTo(bounds.x, bounds.y);
      } else {
        context.lineTo(bounds.x, bounds.y);
    context.lineTo(origX, origY);

  // Write the result to a file
  console.log(`Writing to file ${outputFile}`);
  const writeStream = fs.createWriteStream(outputFile);
  await PImage.encodePNGToStream(img, writeStream);


def highlight_faces(image, faces, output_filename):
    """Draws a polygon around the faces, then saves to output_filename.

      image: a file containing the image with the faces.
      faces: a list of faces found in the file. This should be in the format
          returned by the Vision API.
      output_filename: the name of the image file to be created, where the
          faces have polygons drawn around them.
    im = Image.open(image)
    draw = ImageDraw.Draw(im)
    # Sepecify the font-family and the font-size
    for face in faces:
        box = [(vertex.x, vertex.y) for vertex in face.bounding_poly.vertices]
        draw.line(box + [box[0]], width=5, fill="#00ff00")
        # Place the confidence value/score of the detected faces above the
        # detection box in the output image
                (face.bounding_poly.vertices)[0].y - 30,
            str(format(face.detection_confidence, ".3f")) + "%",

Put it all together


/** Annotates an image using the Vision API. */
public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException, GeneralSecurityException {
  if (args.length != 2) {
        "\tjava %s inputImagePath outputImagePath\n", FaceDetectApp.class.getCanonicalName());
  Path inputPath = Paths.get(args[0]);
  Path outputPath = Paths.get(args[1]);
  if (!outputPath.toString().toLowerCase().endsWith(".jpg")) {
    System.err.println("outputImagePath must have the file extension 'jpg'.");

  FaceDetectApp app = new FaceDetectApp(getVisionService());
  List<FaceAnnotation> faces = app.detectFaces(inputPath, MAX_RESULTS);
  System.out.printf("Found %d face%s\n", faces.size(), faces.size() == 1 ? "" : "s");
  System.out.printf("Writing to file %s\n", outputPath);
  app.writeWithFaces(inputPath, outputPath, faces);

To build and run the sample, run the following commands from the sample code directory:

mvn clean compile assembly:single
java -cp target/vision-face-detection-1.0-SNAPSHOT-jar-with-dependencies.jar \
    com.google.cloud.vision.samples.facedetect.FaceDetectApp \
    data/face.jpg \


async function main(inputFile, outputFile) {
  const PImage = require('pureimage');
  outputFile = outputFile || 'out.png';
  const faces = await detectFaces(inputFile);
  await highlightFaces(inputFile, faces, outputFile, PImage);

To run the sample, run the following command from the sample code directory:

node faceDetection resources/face.png


def main(input_filename, output_filename, max_results):
    with open(input_filename, "rb") as image:
        faces = detect_face(image, max_results)
        print("Found {} face{}".format(len(faces), "" if len(faces) == 1 else "s"))

        print(f"Writing to file {output_filename}")
        # Reset the file pointer, so we can read the file again
        highlight_faces(image, faces, output_filename)

Clean up

To avoid incurring charges to your Google Cloud account for the resources used in this tutorial, either delete the project that contains the resources, or keep the project and delete the individual resources.

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Manage resources page.

    Go to Manage resources

  2. In the project list, select the project that you want to delete, and then click Delete.
  3. In the dialog, type the project ID, and then click Shut down to delete the project.