OpenCV with Tkinter

Datetime:2016-08-22 23:38:07         Topic: OpenCV          Share        Original >>
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I’ll be honest with you.

I’m not much of a GUI developer.

Never was one, never will be.

I enjoy creating the occasional user interface with HTML + CSS, or hacking up a WordPress plugin to make it more aesthetically pleasing — but writing full-fledged GUIs was never something I enjoyed.

That said, I do try my best to write about what you, the PyImageSearch audience wants to hear. And over the past few months, I’ve received a bunch of emails asking about Python GUI libraries, which ones to use, and more specifically, how to integrate OpenCV with Tkinter to display an image in a Tkinter panel.

I normally respond with:

I’m not a GUI developer, so trust me, you don’t want my advice on this. But if you’re looking to build GUIs with Python, look into Qt , Tkinter , and Kivy (if you want to build mobile/natural user interfaces).

All that said, I eventually received enough emails regarding OpenCV + Tkinter integration that it piqued my interest and I had to give it a try .

Over the next two blog posts, I’ll be playing around with Tkinter, developing some simple user interfaces, and sharing my code/experiences with you. I’ve emphasized  playing around here because these are  by no means production applications (and more than likely) not great examples of GUI development practices.

Like I said, I don’t pretend to be a GUI developer — I just want to share my experiences with you.

Looking for the source code to this post?

Jump right to the downloads section.

Using OpenCV with Tkinter

In this tutorial, we’ll be building a simple user interface using the Tkinter Python library. This user interface will allow us to click a button, triggering a file chooser dialog to select a file from disk. We’ll then load the selected image using OpenCV, perform edge detection, and finally display both the  original image and  edge map in our GUI.

I’ve included a rough wireframe of the first mockup below:

Figure 1:Our first screen contains only a button to load our image from disk.

When first loaded, our application when contain only a button that allows us to load an image from disk.

After clicking this button, we’ll be allowed to navigate our file system and select an image to be processed. We’ll then display the original image and  edge map in the GUI.

Figure 2:After selecting an image, we’ll display both the original image and edge map side-by-side in our GUI.

What is Tkinter?

If you haven’t heard of Tkinter before, Tkinter is a thin object-oriented layer around Tcl/Tk . One of the benefits of using Tkinter, is that with it installed on your system, you can run any Python GUI applications that leverage Tcl/Tk.

In the very rare occurrences that I’ve needed to develop a GUI application for Python, I tend to use Qt , but since it’s been a good 3-4 years since I’ve last used Tkinter, I thought I would give it another shot.

Installing Tkinter

I personally struggled to get Tkinter installed and configured properly on my OSX machine, so I decided to revert to using Ubuntu/Raspbian.

Note:If you have any good tutorials for installing Tkinter and Tcl/Tk on OSX, please leave the links in the comments section of this blog post.

While I struggled to get Tkinter installed on OSX, installing on Ubuntu/Raspbian was a breeze, requiring only a call to apt - get :

$ sudoapt-get installpython-tkpython3-tkpython-imaging-tk

From there, Tkinter was installed without a hitch.

You should also make sure you have Pillow , a simple Python-based imaging library installed as well since Tkinter will need it for displaying images in our GUI:

$ pipinstallPillow

I validated my installation by firing up a Python shell and importing PIL/Pillow, Tkinter, and my OpenCV bindings:

$ python
>>> importPIL
>>> importTkinter
>>> importcv2

Note:I’m assuming that you already have OpenCV installed on your system. If you need help configuring, compiling, and installing OpenCV,please see this page where I’ve compiled a list of OpenCV installation instructions for a variety of systems.

Writing our OpenCV + Tkinter application

We are now ready to write our simple GUI application. Open up a new file, name it tkinter_test . py , and insert the following code:

# import the necessary packages
from Tkinter import *
from PILimport Image
from PILimport ImageTk
import tkFileDialog
import cv2
def select_image():
 # grab a reference to the image panels
 global panelA, panelB
 # open a file chooser dialog and allow the user to select an input
 # image
 path = tkFileDialog.askopenfilename()

Lines 2-6import our required Python packages. We’ll need Tkinter to access our GUI functionality, along with both the Image and ImageTk classes from PIL/Pillow to display the image in our GUI. The tkFileDialog allows us to browse our file system and choose an image to process. Finally, we import cv2 for our OpenCV bindings.

Lien 8defines our select_image function. Inside this function, we grab a  global reference to panelA and panelB , respectively. These were be our  image panels An image panel, as the name suggests, is used to take an image and then display it in our GUI.

The first panel, panelA , is for the  original image we will load from disk, while the second panel, panelB , will be for the  edge map we are going to compute.

A call to tkFileDialog . askopenfilename on Line 14 opens a  file chooser dialog , which we can use to navigate our file system and select an image of our choosing.

After selecting an image, our program continues:

 # ensure a file path was selected
 if len(path) > 0:
 # load the image from disk, convert it to grayscale, and detect
 # edges in it
 image = cv2.imread(path)
 gray = cv2.cvtColor(image, cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)
 edged = cv2.Canny(gray, 50, 100)
 # OpenCV represents images in BGR order; however PIL represents
 # images in RGB order, so we need to swap the channels
 image = cv2.cvtColor(image, cv2.COLOR_BGR2RGB)
 # convert the images to PIL format...
 image = Image.fromarray(image)
 edged = Image.fromarray(edged)
 # ...and then to ImageTk format
 image = ImageTk.PhotoImage(image)
 edged = ImageTk.PhotoImage(edged)

Line 17ensures that a file was selected and that we did not click the “Cancel” button. Provided that a path was selected, we load the image from disk, convert it to grayscale, and then detect edges using the Canny edge detector ( Lines 20-22 ). I’ve hardcoded the thresholds to the Canny edge detector as a matter of simplicity, but you could also use the auto_canny function from the imutils package to compute the edge map  without supplying any parameters. You can read more about the auto-canny function here .

In order to display our images in the Tkinter GUI, we first need to change the formatting. To start, OpenCV represents images in BGR order; however PIL/Pillow represents images in RGB order, so we need to reverse the ordering of the channels ( Line 26 ).

From there, we can convert image and edged from OpenCV format to PIL/Pillow format ( Lines 29 and 30 ). And then finally convert the PIL/Pillow images to ImageTk format ( Lines 33 and 34 ).

We are now ready to add the images to our GUI:

 # if the panels are None, initialize them
 if panelAis None or panelBis None:
 # the first panel will store our original image
 panelA = Label(image=image)
 panelA.image = image
 panelA.pack(side="left", padx=10, pady=10)
 # while the second panel will store the edge map
 panelB = Label(image=edged)
 panelB.image = edged
 panelB.pack(side="right", padx=10, pady=10)
 # otherwise, update the image panels
 # update the pannels
 panelA.image = image
 panelB.image = edged

If the respective panels are None , we need to initialize them ( Lines 37-46 ). First, we create an instance of Label for each image. Then, we take  special care to include panel . image = image .

Why is this so important?

To prevent Python’s garbage collection routines from deleting the image!

Without storing this reference, our image will essentially be deleted and we will be unable to display it to our screen.

Otherwise, we can assume that our image panels have already been initialized ( Lines 49-54 ). In this case, all we need to do is call configure on each of the panels and then update the reference to the image objects.

The last step is to write the code that actually initializes, creates, and starts the GUI process:

# initialize the window toolkit along with the two image panels
root = Tk()
panelA = None
panelB = None
# create a button, then when pressed, will trigger a file chooser
# dialog and allow the user to select an input image; then add the
# button the GUI
btn = Button(root, text="Select an image", command=select_image)
btn.pack(side="bottom", fill="both", expand="yes", padx="10", pady="10")
# kick off the GUI

Line 57initializes the root Tkinter window, while  Lines 58 and 59 initialize our two image panels.

We then create a button and add it to our GUI on Lines 64 and 65 . When clicked, this button will trigger our file chooser, allowing us to navigate our file system and select an image from disk.

Finally, Line 68 kicks-off the actual main loop of the GUI.

Running our OpenCV + Tkinter GUI

To run our OpenCV + Tkinter application, just execute the following command:


At first, all our GUI should contain is the button we click to select an image from disk:

Figure 3:At startup, our GUI only contains a single button, that when clicked, will prompt us to select a file from disk.

After clicking the button, we are presented with a file chooser:

Figure 4:The file chooser allows us to navigate our file system and select an image to process.

We can then navigate to the image file we want to compute edges for and click the “Open” button:

Figure 5:We can select an image to process by first highlighting the image and then clicking the “Open” button.

After our image has been selected, the edge map is computed using OpenCV, and both the original image and the  edge map are added to our Tkinter GUI:

Figure 6:On the left , we have the original, unprocessed image. Then, on the right , we have the edge map.

Of course, we can repeat this process for different images as well:

Figure 7:Loading an image, computing edges using the Canny edge detector, and then displaying the result using Tkinter and OpenCV.

Let’s do one final example:

Figure 8:Displaying images in Tkinter using OpenCV.


In this blog post, I demonstrated how to build a very simple GUI application that integrates both OpenCV for computer vision and the Tkinter library for developing GUIs with the Python programming language.

I’ll be the first one to say that I am  not a GUI developer, nor do I have any intentions of becoming one. This code is likely far from perfect — and that’s okay. I simply wanted to share my experience with you in the hopes that it helps other, more committed and advanced GUI developers learn how to integrate OpenCV with Tkinter.

All that said, next week I’ll be doing a second blog post on OpenCV and Tkinter, this time building a “Photo Booth” application that can access our webcam, display the (live) stream to our GUI, and save snapshots from the stream to disk at the click of a button.

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