Insert Yourself Into Any Picture With C#, Dlib, and OpenCV

Did I tell you about that time when I partied with my famous Hollywood celebrity friends?

This was back in 2014 at the Oscars. I was in the audience, hanging out with my BFF’s Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, and Jared Leto. Then all of a sudden Ellen DeGeneres walked right up to me, handed me her cellphone, and asked me to take a selfie!

Crazy, right? Here’s the picture I took:

Just kidding!

That’s actually Bradley Cooper front and center. I used a C# ‘face-swapping’ app to superimpose my face over his, and digitally insert myself into the famous DeGeneres Oscar selfie.

Would you like to learn how I did that?

Let’s find out how to tackle this problem in C#. I am going to use the awesome Accord library which is perfect for creating computer vision apps.

I’ll also use OpenCvSharp3, a C# wrapper for the awesome OpenCV library. I will be using a couple of image transformation functions from this library.

And I’m going to be using DLib. In the computer vision world, this is the go-to library for face detection. It’s written entirely in C++ but fortunately there is a wrapper called DlibDotNet that exposes all functionality to C#.

So the first thing I need is the original selfie:

And a nice picture of me where I’m looking roughly in the same direction as Bradley:

The Dlib library has fantastic support for face detection, so that’s what I’m going to start working with.

I’ll start by detecting all Landmark Points in Bradley Cooper’s face. Landmark points are predetermined and numbered locations on a face:

The Dlib face detector is pre-trained to recognize 68 landmark points that cover the jaw, chin, eyebrows, nose, eyes, and lips of a face.

Here’s what it looks like when I detect and plot every landmark point for every celebrity in the picture:

Dlib is pretty awesome in that it can track these points in real time. The computational overhead for calculating all these points is only 1ms!

My code can swap faces with anyone in the picture, but the results look best when I pick Bradley Cooper.

Here’s the C# code to detect all landmark points in Bradley’s face:

I start by instantiating a FrontalFaceDetector and a ShapePredictor. Please note two things about this code:

  • Detecting faces and detecting landmark points (called a ‘shape’) are two different things in Dlib, with wildly different performance. Detecting faces is very slow, whereas shape detection only takes ~1ms and can be done in real time.
  • The ShapePredictor is actually a machine learning model that loads from a fully-trained data file. You can re-train the shape predictor on anything you like: human faces, cat & dog faces, plants, objects, …

Dlib uses a different image format than the NET framework (it’s written in C++, remember?) so I need to convert the selfie before I start. The ToArray2D<> method converts my bitmap to an array of RgbPixel structs which is what Dlib uses.

Then I use Detect() to detect all faces in the image, and just grab the first one which happens to be Bradley Cooper. The result is a rectangle that identifies where Bradley’s face is in the picture.

Next, I call Detect() on the shape predictor and provide the selfie and the face rectangle. The result is a class that has a GetPart() method I can use to retrieve the coordinate of any landmark point.

My upcoming face swap code relies heavily on OpenCV code which has its own point structs. So my last line is a LINQ expression that converts the Dlib points to OpenCV points.

Seriously, 80% of all computer vision code is just converting points and rectangles from one library format into another 😉

The next thing I need to do is calculate the Convex Hull of the landmark points. This is just a fancy way of saying I want the outermost points that form a smooth boundary around the face:

OpenCV has a built-in function that can calculate the convex hull for me:

The ConvesHullIndices() method calculates the indices of all convex hull landmark points, so all I need to do is run another LINQ query to get an enumeration of those points for Bradley Cooper.

Here’s what the convex hull looks like on Bradley’s face:

Next, I need to repeat these steps with my own face:

This is exactly the same code, but now I’m working on the newImage bitmap instead of image.

And here is my hull:

So at this point I have two convex hulls: one for Bradley’s face and one for my own face.

The next thing I need to do is calculate the Delaunay Triangles on my face and then Warp them so that they match Bradley’s face exactly.

Delaunay Triangulation is a process that creates a grid of triangles that entirely covers Bradley’s face. Each triangle is made up of three unique landmark points on Bradley’s convex hull.

Here’s what that looks like. The blue lines form the Delaunay triangles:

Next, I’ll Warp each triangle from my face to Bradley’s face. A warp is a linear transformation that distorts the triangle so that its three corners fit the new face exactly.

In the following diagram, a Delaunay triangle made up of landmark points 3, 14, and 24 on my face is warped so that it fits exactly on Bradley’s face and the three corners precisely match Bradley’s landmark points 3, 14, and 24:

The really nice thing about this process is that each triangle warp is a linear transformation. The pixels inside each triangle can be moved with a super-fast linear matrix operation.

There’s no linear relationship between the coordinates of my convex hull points and Bradley’s. If we tried to move all pixels directly, we would have to use a slow nonlinear transform. But by first covering Bradley’s face in Delaunay triangles and then warping each triangle separately, the whole operation becomes linear (and fast!).

Here’s how you can perform Delaunay Triangulation and Warping in C#:

I’m using a handy Utility class with a GetDelaunayTriangles method to calculate the triangles on Bradley’s face, a GetWarps method to calculate the warp for each triangle, and an ApplyWarps method to apply the warps to my face to make it match Bradley’s convex hull.

The warpedImg variable now holds my face, sufficiently distorted to match Bradley’s convex hull:

There’s one more thing I need to do. The tone of my skin is different from Bradley’s. So if I simply plonk my image on top of his in the selfie, we’re going to see a jarring color change at the edge of my image:

To fix that, I’m going to use a very nice OpenCV function that can seamlessly blend one image into another and smooth out any color differences, called SeamlessClone.

Here’s how you do a seamless clone in C#:

The SeamlessClone method needs two things to do its magic:

  • A mask to tell it which pixels to blend. I calculate the mask by taking Bradley’s convex hull and filling it with white pixels using the FillConvexPoly method.
  • A center point where the color should be 100% my skin tone. Pixels further away from this point will get more and more of Bradley’s skin tone. I estimate the center of Bradley’s face by calling BoundingRect to get a bounding box around his face, and then taking the center of this box.

Then I call SeamlessClone to perform the clone and store the result in the blend variable.

Here’s what the final result looks like:

You might be wondering why I need the convex hull in this process. Why not use all of the landmark points for calculating the triangles?

The reason is actually very simple. Compare my face with Bradley. Notice how he is smiling and I am not?

If I use all landmark points, the app will try to deform my entire face to match Bradley’s lips, nose, and eyes. It will spread my lips apart in an attempt to make me smile and show my teeth.

The results are not pretty 😅

By only using the convex hull points, the app can distort my jawline to match Bradley’s, but it can’t touch my eyes, nose, and mouth. That means my expression stays the same in the new image and that looks a lot better.

As a final step, I’ll apply an Instagram filter to smooth out the color difference even more:

And there you have it: irrefutable proof that Ellen and I are BFFs!

You can grab the complete source code from here: https://github.com/mdfarragher/ComputerVision_Bootcamp/tree/master/bootcamp_faceswap

So what do you think? Have I inspired you to write computer vision code of your own?