Comprehensive Python OpenCV Tutorial For Beginners Part I

OpenCV or Open Source Computer Vision Library is an open source computer vision and machine learning library with support in major programming languages namely: Python, Java, C, and C++.

Because the library is BSD-licensed, it is easy to apply OpenCV to business everywhere.

For this OpenCV-Python tutorial series, we are going to guide you step by step to perform tasks such as image manipulations and enhancement, to object detection and classifications.

1. Installation


To make it easy type in the following command in terminal.

$ pip install opencv-python

This should be the message after you were able to successfully install


For Linux, type instead

sudo apt-get install libopencv-dev python-opencv

2. Reading the Image

For this tutorial, we are going to create a local folder with a jupyter notebook, as it is easy to see our output right away. If you haven’t used jupyter notebook before, here is a guide on how to install them for your device.

For our purpose, we are going to use the following image as the sample image, and save it in the local directory.

Apple.jpeg (Sample Image)

We are going to create a new jupyter notebook in the same directory as the image:

To Start off, we first import all the necessary following dependencies:

import cv2 as cv
import numpy as np
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt

To read the image, we use the cv.imread() method:

img = cv.imread(“apple.jpeg”)   # Read the imageplt.imshow(img)   # Ploting the image using matplotlib

Notice how the apple looks weird?

This is because OpenCV utilize the BGR format as it was the popular format for camera manufacturer back in the day when it was written, and for historical reasons, we have to live with it.

Before we fix this in a second, let us first examine the cv.imread() function.

cv.imread()has two arguments:

  1. Image Path
    2. The 3 parameters that the image should be read. They can also be alternatively represented as integers:

    -1 or cv.IMREAD_COLOR (Default Tag) — neglects the image transparency, mostly for 8-bit images that don’t have the alpha channel.

    0 or cv.IMREAD_GRAYSCALE — responsible for loading our images in grayscale.

    1 or cv.IMREAD_UNCHANGED — loads an image using the alpha channel.

    Ok, now that we understand the image reading function, let’s try to fix the weird colors. To do this, we are going to Convert it to RGB format using the cvtColor() function in OpenCV, using the cv.COLOR_BGR2RGB as the parameter.
img_rgb = cv.cvtColor(img, cv.COLOR_BGR2RGB)

Here is our new output:


There we go! We just successfully displayed our first image.

Alternatively, you can also displayed the Image using the below method:

cv.imshow("image",img_rgb)key = cv.waitKey(0) if key == 27:

The result will open up a new window like this:

Note that cv.waitKey() is a keyboard binding function that waits for specified millisecond for any keyboard event, where we put 0 , and therefore it would trigger the event right away.

Here we also see if key == 27 . In this case, 27 is the binary number for the key ESC . Therefore cv.destroyAllWindows() will activate, which closes all current OpenCV windows, will only activate if the user press the ESC key.

3. Examine The Image

Let’s now closely examine the image that we just fixed:

print("Image type: ", type(img_rgb))
print("Image data type: ", img_rgb.dtype)
print("Image shape: ", img_rgb.shape)

Here is our output:

As we can see the image is a numpy n-th dimensional array with its shape in this case being (240,210,3).

This is because computers read images in term of pixels. Note that OpenCV stores the y pixels as rows, and x pixels as columns.

So in this case image, this is a 240 x 210 picture. The 3 represent the BGR or RGB value inside of each pixel, expressed in form of an array.

With a dtype of uint8(8-bit unsigned integer arrays, the max value is 255, and the min value is 0.

In image processing, bicubic interpolation is often chosen over bilinear or nearest-neighbor interpolation in image resampling, when speed is not an issue.

4. Drawing Shapes

a. Lines

line_img = img_rgb.copy()        # Make a copy of the imagecv.line(line_img,(0,0),(200,200),(0,0,255),5)   # Draw the lineplt.imshow(line_img)    # show the image

Here we just drew a blue diagonal line across the apple image:

There are 4 arguments in this tutorial for the cv.line() function that you have to worry about, which will mutate the image variable.

For more parameters, feel free to refer to the drawing documentation

  1. img_rgb , which in this case represents the image we would like to draw our line on
  2. (0,0), the starting location of our line with both x and y equals 0
  3. (200,200), the end location of our line also with both x and y equals 200
  4. ((0,255,0),5), the color of our line (0,255,0) and the thickness of the line in 5 px.

b. Rectangle

Let’s try to draw a triangle now in middle of our apple:

rectangle_img = img_rgb.copy()cv.rectangle(rectangle_img,(25,50),(175,150),(0,0,255),3)plt.imshow(rectangle_img)

For the cv.rectangle() method, here are the parameters meant.

  1. img_rgb, the image we would like to draw our rectangle on
  2. (25,50), pt1, vertex of the rectangle
  3. (175,150), pt2, vertext of the rectangle of the pt1
  4. (0,0,255), the RGB value of our rectangle color
  5. 3 , the thickness of our rectangle in pixels

c. Circle

circle_img = img_rgb.copy(),(100,130), 90, (0,0,255), -1)plt.imshow(circle_img)  

Parameters Explained:

  1. img_rgb, the image we would like to draw our rectangle on
  2. (100,130), center location of where the circle starts
  3. 90, the radius of the circle in pixels
  4. (0,0,255), the RGB value of our rectangle color, in this case it is blue
  5. -1 thickness of our circle, if NEGATIVE, then the circle is going to be filled

d. Ellipse

ellipse_img = img_rgb.copy()    cv.ellipse(ellipse_img,(100,100),(100,50),0,0,180,(0,0,255),-1)plt.imshow(ellipse_img)               
  1. img_rgb, the image we would like to draw our ellipse on
  2. (100,100), center of our Ellipse
  3. (100,50), axes lengths (major axis length, minor axis length)
  4. 0,0,180 , represents the ellipse rotation angle 0 , start angle 0, and end angel 180
  5. (0,0,255) represents the color of our ellipse, which is blue in this case
  6. -1 the thickness of our rectangle in pixels, again, -1 meant that the ellipse will be filled instead of displaying a silhouette with x amount of pixels

e. Polygon

polygon_img = img_rgb.copy()pts = np.array([[70,85],[100,150],[160,150],[120,90]], np.int32)      pts = pts.reshape((-1,1,2))    


cv.polylines also have 4 params in this tutorial.

In the beginning, we have to first give the 4 coordinates that we would like for the points of our array to be. Then, we shape those points into an array of shape ROWSx1x2 where ROWS are number of vertices.

1. polygon_img, the image that we would to manipulate on.
2. [pts], the coordinates of the 4 vertices that we draw on the picture
3. True, boolean value that indicates whether the shape is enclosed or not. if closed, the funciton draws from the last vertex to the first.
4. (0,0,255), the color of the polygon, which in this case is blue.
5. 3, thickness of the polygon in px

f. Putting Text on Image

text_img = img_rgb.copy()                font = cv.FONT_HERSHEY_SIMPLEX textcolor = (255,255,255)cv.putText(text_img,'Apple',(60,130),font, 1,textcolor,2,cv.LINE_AA)             plt.imshow(text_img) 

Here are the parameters for the cv.putText() function:

  1. text_img, the image where we are going to do our image manipulation on
  2. 'Apple', the text string that you would like to put onto the image
  3. (60,130), the bottom-left corner of the text
  4. font, in this case, we set it as FONT_HERSHEY_SIMPLEX, to see more font options, check out
  5. 1, the numerical font scale
  6. textcolor, the color of the text in rgb value, which in this case is (255,255,255) , the white font
  7. 2, the thickness of the text in terms of pixels
  8. cv.LINE_AA, line types, check it out here

5. Save the Image


Finally, to save the image, utilize the command cv.imwrite() , the first parameter represents the file path and filename, and the second parameter represents the image variable that you would like to save.

Final Note

Note that if you use matplotlib to display your image, you would have to convert BGR to RGB in order for your images to be display correctly on your montior. However, if you utilize or cv.write() , it still utilize the BGR format, so you may want to convert it back if you would like for it to display correctly.


That concludes our first tutorial for OpenCV, for more about the code for this tutorial. Check out the GitHub that I have set up for you on

Using Data to reveal the clarity among the chaotic world we live in today.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store