How to Annotate Images Using OpenCV

In this project, we will learn how to annotate images using OpenCV — a popular and powerful open source library for image processing and computer vision. OpenCV is a cross-platform library with wrappers for Python, Ruby, C#, JavaScript, and other languages designed for real-time image processing. OpenCV has methods for image I/O, filtering, motion tracking, segmentation, 3D reconstruction, as well as machine learning techniques such as boosting, support vector machines, and deep learning.


  • Design a software application using Python and OpenCV that allows users to click in an image, annotate a number of points within an image, and export the annotated points into a CSV file.
    • Code must be implemented in Python and using OpenCV
    • Students should NOT use Jupyter Notebooks for this project
    • The input image and output CSV files will be provided as parameters.
      • Example: python cat_dog.jpg cat_dog.csv

You Will Need 

  • Python 3.7

Input Images



To run the program, open up an Anaconda Prompt terminal

Go to the proper directory.

Type python cat_dog.jpg cat_dog.csv to run the program.

Here is the code:

import cv2 # Import the OpenCV library
import numpy as np # Import Numpy library
import pandas as pd # Import Pandas library
import sys # Enables the passing of arguments

# Project: Annotate Images Using OpenCV
# Author: Addison Sears-Collins
# Date created: 9/11/2019
# Python version: 3.7
# Description: This program allows users to click in an image, annotate a 
#   number of points within an image, and export the annotated points into
#   a CSV file.

# Define the file name of the image
INPUT_IMAGE = sys.argv[1] # "cat_dog.jpg"
OUTPUT_IMAGE = IMAGE_NAME + "_annotated.jpg"
output_csv_file = sys.argv[2]

# Load the image and store into a variable
# -1 means load unchanged
image = cv2.imread(INPUT_IMAGE, -1)

# Create lists to store all x, y, and annotation values
x_vals = []
y_vals = []
annotation_vals = []

# Dictionary containing some colors
colors = {'blue': (255, 0, 0), 'green': (0, 255, 0), 'red': (0, 0, 255), 
          'yellow': (0, 255, 255),'magenta': (255, 0, 255), 
          'cyan': (255, 255, 0), 'white': (255, 255, 255), 'black': (0, 0, 0), 
          'gray': (125, 125, 125), 
          'rand': np.random.randint(0, high=256, size=(3,)).tolist(), 
          'dark_gray': (50, 50, 50), 'light_gray': (220, 220, 220)}

def draw_circle(event, x, y, flags, param):
    Draws dots on double clicking of the left mouse button
    # Store the height and width of the image
    height = image.shape[0]
    width = image.shape[1]

    if event == cv2.EVENT_LBUTTONDBLCLK:
        # Draw the dot, (x, y), 5, colors['magenta'], -1)

        # Annotate the image
        txt = input("Describe this pixel using one word (e.g. dog) and press ENTER: ")

        # Append values to the list

        # Print the coordinates and the annotation to the console
        print("x = " + str(x) + "  y = " + str(y) + "  Annotation = " + txt + "\n")

        # Set the position of the text part of the annotation
        text_x_pos = None
        text_y_pos = y

        if x < (width/2):
            text_x_pos = int(x + (width * 0.075))
            text_x_pos = int(x - (width * 0.075))
        # Write text on the image
        cv2.putText(image, txt, (text_x_pos,text_y_pos), cv2.FONT_HERSHEY_SIMPLEX, 1, colors['magenta'], 2)

        cv2.imwrite(OUTPUT_IMAGE, image)

        # Prompt user for another annotation
        print("Double click another pixel or press 'q' to quit...\n")

print("Welcome to the Image Annotation Program!\n")
print("Double click anywhere inside the image to annotate that point...\n")

# We create a named window where the mouse callback will be established
cv2.namedWindow('Image mouse')

# We set the mouse callback function to 'draw_circle':
cv2.setMouseCallback('Image mouse', draw_circle)

while True:
    # Show image 'Image mouse':
    cv2.imshow('Image mouse', image)

    # Continue until 'q' is pressed:
    if cv2.waitKey(20) &amp; 0xFF == ord('q'):

# Create a dictionary using lists
data = {'X':x_vals,'Y':y_vals,'Annotation':annotation_vals}

# Create the Pandas DataFrame
df = pd.DataFrame(data)

# Export the dataframe to a csv file
df.to_csv(path_or_buf = output_csv_file, index = None, header=True) 

# Destroy all generated windows:

Output Images


CSV Output

Here is the output for the csv file for the baby photo above:


How to Create an Image Histogram Using OpenCV

Given an image as input, how do we get the corresponding histogram using OpenCV? First, let us take a look at what a histogram is, then let us take a look at how to create one given an image. 

What is a Histogram?

A histogram is another way of looking at an image. It is a graph that shows pixel brightness values on the x-axis (e.g. 0 [black] to 255 [white] for grayscale images) and the corresponding number (i.e. frequency) of pixels (for each brightness value) on the y-axis. 

How to Create an Image Histogram Using OpenCV

There are two links I particularly like that show how to create the image histogram given an input image.

  1. Geeks for Geeks
  2. OpenCV Python Tutorials

I like these tutorials because they lead the reader through all the essentials of how to find and analyze image histograms, step-by-step. This process boils down to the following code:

# Import the required libraries
import cv2  # Open CV
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt  #Matplotlib for plotting  
# Read the input image
img = cv2.imread('example.jpg',0) 
# Calculate the frequency of pixels in the brightness range 0 - 255
histr = cv2.calcHist([img],[0],None,[256],[0,256]) 
# Plot the histogram and display

How to Make an Object Tracking Robot Using Raspberry Pi

In this post, I will show you how to give your wheeled robot the ability to follow a colored ball. You will get your first taste of computer vision and image processing.


Here are the requirements:

  • Build a wheeled robot powered by Raspberry Pi that must identify and follow a yellow rubber ball using OpenCV, a library of programming functions for real-time computer vision and image processing.

You Will Need

The following components are used in this project. You will need:


Connecting the Raspberry Pi Camera Module

Make sure the Raspberry Pi is turned OFF.

Open the Camera Serial Interface on the Raspberry Pi. It is located next to the 3.5mm audio jack. Pull it upwards delicately from either side.

Insert the ribbon of the camera module into the Camera Serial Interface. Make sure the silver contacts face away from the 3.5mm audio jack.


Hold the ribbon in place while pushing down on the Camera Serial Interface port. Make sure it is closed.


Mount the camera to the front of the robot.


Power up Raspberry Pi.

Open up a configuration window:

sudo raspi-config

Interfacing Options –> ENTER –> Camera –> ENTER –> Yes

The camera is enabled.

Now, we need to set the resolution.

Advanced Options –> Resolution –> DMT Mode 82 1920×1080 60Hz 16: 9 –> ENTER –> Finish

Restart the Raspberry Pi by typing the following in a terminal window.

sudo reboot

Testing the Raspberry Pi Camera Module.

We need to take a test photo with our newly installed camera module.

Open a terminal window. Type the following command:

raspistill -o test_photo.jpg

Go to your home directory to see if the test photo is there. Here is the photo that mine took (back of my head).


Setting Up Object Tracking

Now, we need to configure our system so the robot can track a yellow rubber ball.

Download the dependencies for OpenCV, a library of programming functions for real-time computer vision and image processing.

Type the following command into a terminal window:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libblas-dev libatlas-base-dev libjasper-dev libqtgui4 libqt4-test


Wait a few moments while everything installs.

Install OpenCV using pip.

sudo pip3 install opencv-python

Install the PiCamera library.

sudo apt-get install python3-picamera

Determining the HSV Value of the Yellow Ball

We need to select an appropriate HSV (hue, saturation, value) value for the yellow ball. HSV is an alternative color representation that is frequently used instead of the RGB (Red Green Blue) color model I covered in my light and sound wheeled robot post.

Here is the HSV table.


Since the ball is yellow, I’ll choose 60 as my starting number.

Open IDLE in your Raspberry Pi, and create a new file in your robot directory. Name it

Here is the code for the program:

# import the necessary packages
from picamera.array import PiRGBArray
from picamera import PiCamera
import time
import cv2
import numpy as np

# initialize the camera and grab a reference to the raw camera capture
camera = PiCamera()
camera.resolution = (640, 480)
camera.framerate = 32
rawCapture = PiRGBArray(camera, size=(640, 480))

while True:
	while True:
			hue_value = int(input("Hue value between 10 and 245: "))
			if (hue_value < 10) or (hue_value > 245):
				raise ValueError
		except ValueError:
			print("That isn't an integer between 10 and 245, try again")

	lower_red = np.array([hue_value-10,100,100])
	upper_red = np.array([hue_value+10, 255, 255])

	for frame in camera.capture_continuous(rawCapture, format="bgr", use_video_port=True):
		image = frame.array

		hsv = cv2.cvtColor(image, cv2.COLOR_BGR2HSV)

		color_mask = cv2.inRange(hsv, lower_red, upper_red)

		result = cv2.bitwise_and(image, image, mask= color_mask)

		cv2.imshow("Camera Output", image)
		cv2.imshow("HSV", hsv)
		cv2.imshow("Color Mask", color_mask)
		cv2.imshow("Final Result", result)


		k = cv2.waitKey(5) #&amp; 0xFF
		if "q" == chr(k &amp; 255):

Place your ball about a yard in front of the camera.


Run the newly created program.


Choose 60.

You will see four windows.

  • Window 1. RGB representation
  • Window 2: HSV representation
  • Window 3: Show the portions of the frame that match a hue value of 60.
  • Window 4: Entire frame minus all portions that do NOT have a 60 hue value.

To try a different hue value, select any of the four windows above. Press Q to halt the output of the video.

Go to the terminal window, and try a new hue valve. I’ll try 29 this time. It worked!

You keep trying different numbers until Window 4 shows mostly your ball and nothing else. Be patient and try LOTS of numbers.


Write down the hue value you ended up with on a sheet of paper.

Press CTRL-C in the terminal window to stop running

Coding the Ball-Following Program

Open IDLE. Create a new file in your robot directory named:

ball_following_yellow. py

Here is the code (Credit to Matt Timmons-Brown, the author of a really good book on Raspberry Pi robotics: (Learn Robotics with Raspberry Pi):

from picamera.array import PiRGBArray
from picamera import PiCamera
import cv2
import numpy as np
import gpiozero

camera = PiCamera()
image_width = 640
image_height = 480
camera.resolution = (image_width, image_height)
camera.framerate = 32
rawCapture = PiRGBArray(camera, size=(image_width, image_height))
center_image_x = image_width / 2
center_image_y = image_height / 2
minimum_area = 250
maximum_area = 100000

robot = gpiozero.Robot(left=(22,27), right=(17,18))
forward_speed = 1.0
turn_speed = 0.8

HUE_VAL = 29

lower_color = np.array([HUE_VAL-10,100,100])
upper_color = np.array([HUE_VAL+10, 255, 255])

for frame in camera.capture_continuous(rawCapture, format="bgr", use_video_port=True):
	image = frame.array

	hsv = cv2.cvtColor(image, cv2.COLOR_BGR2HSV)

	color_mask = cv2.inRange(hsv, lower_color, upper_color)

	image2, countours, hierarchy = cv2.findContours(color_mask, cv2.RETR_LIST, cv2.CHAIN_APPROX_SIMPLE)

	object_area = 0
	object_x = 0
	object_y = 0

	for contour in countours:
		x, y, width, height = cv2.boundingRect(contour)
		found_area = width * height
		center_x = x + (width / 2)
		center_y = y + (height / 2)
		if object_area < found_area:
			object_area = found_area
			object_x = center_x
			object_y = center_y
	if object_area > 0:
		ball_location = [object_area, object_x, object_y]
		ball_location = None

	if ball_location:
		if (ball_location[0] > minimum_area) and (ball_location[0] < maximum_area):
			if ball_location[1] > (center_image_x + (image_width/3)):
				print("Turning right")
			elif ball_location[1] < (center_image_x - (image_width/3)):
				print("Turning left")
		elif (ball_location[0] < minimum_area):
			print("Target isn't large enough, searching")
			print("Target large enough, stopping")
		print("Target not found, searching")


Running the Ball – Following Program

Place your robot in an open space on the floor with the yellow rubber ball.

Run the program.


Whenever you want to stop the program, type CTRL-C.