Luana Bezerra Batista and Herman Martins Gomes
Departamento de Sistemas e Computação
João Marques de Carvalho
Departamento de Engenharia Elétrica
Universidade Federal de Campina Grande
Campina Grande, Paraíba, Brasil, 58.109-970
Keywords: Facial Expression Recognition, Photogeny, Principal Component Analysis, Multi-Layer Perceptron.
Abstract: Facial Expression Recognition Systems (FERS) are usually applied to human-machine interfaces, enabling
services that require identification of the emotional state of the user. This paper presents a new approach to
the facial expression recognition problem, by addressing the question of whether or not it is possible to
classify previously labeled photogenic and non-photogenic face images, based on their appearance. A Multi-
Layer Perceptron (MLP) is trained with PCA representations of the face images to learn the relationships
between facial expressions and the concept of a good photography of the face of a person. In the
experiments, the generalization performances using MLP and Support Vector Machines (SVM) were
analyzed. The results have shown that Principal Component Analysis (PCA) combined with MLP represent
a promising approach to the problem.
Facial expressions are a manifestation of the
emotional state, cognitive activity, intention,
personality and psychopathology of a person
(Donato et al., 1999).
According to Mehrabian (Mehrabian, 1968),
the verbal part of a spoken message contributes
only with 7% to the effect of the message as a
whole; the voice intonation contributes with 38%,
while facial expressions alone are responsible for
55% of the message information. These values
clearly show that facial expressions play a major
role in human communication (Pantic and
Rothkrantz, 2000).
Facial Expression Recognition Systems
(FERS) are generally applied to human-machine
interfaces (van Dam, 2000) (Pentland, 2000) (Zue
and Glass, 2000). Such interfaces enable the
automation of services that require appreciation of
the emotional state of the user, as in transactions
that involve some form of negotiation (Chibelushi
and Bourel, 2003).
The two main approaches used for facial
expression recognition are based on Action Units
(Donato et al., 1999) and on Basic Expressions
(Ekman, 1982):
Based on global facial features, Basic
Expressions (BEs) relate to the emotional
states of joy, sadness, surprise, anger, fear and
An Action Unit (AU) is one of 46 atomic
elements of visible facial movements or its
associated deformation, being therefore based
on local face features. An expression results
from the agglomeration of several AUs.
In this paper, instead of trying to infer the
emotional states of an expression or extracting
features related to facial movements, we formulate
a different problem and approach, by designing
experiments that use a new set of global and local
features to discriminate between photogenic and
non-photogenic expressions. According to
Wikipedia online free encyclopedia
(, the
definition of the term photogenic is:
Bezerra Batista L., Martins Gomes H. and Marques de Carvalho J. (2006).
In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Computer Vision Theory and Applications, pages 166-171
DOI: 10.5220/0001370901660171
“Attractive as a subject of photography.
A person that looks attractive on
Attractiveness is a very subjective concept, which
may be difficult to map into a more formal
definition. Some authors may link this to the
concept of beauty and symmetry, but this is not the
direction we want to follow. For the purpose of this
work, we associated photogenic pictures to smiling
and neutral faces using the common sense idea that
when people are asked to pose for a picture, they
usually make a smiling face (rarely they use
expressions such as anger or sadness). In the
future, instead of this coarse classification, we
intend to refine the concept of photogeny by
acquiring knowledge from a set of images that
have been voted by a number of human observers.
The main goal of this work is, therefore, to
give a new focus to the problem of facial
expression recognition, by addressing the
photogeny question. This means to investigate the
relationship between the facial expressions
presented by a human subject and the concept of a
good photography of that person.
This paper is organized as follows: section 2
discusses previous related work; in section 3 the
photogeny discrimination framework is described;
section 4 presents the performed experiments and
results; and. finally, section 5 draws conclusions
and presents proposals for future work.
The photogeny problem has not yet been studied in
Computer Vision literature. However, there is
some related work on facial expression
recognition, which will be discussed here.
In the work of Zhang et. al (Zhang et al, 1998),
Gabor filters combined with Neural Networks were
used to recognize BEs. Gabor filters are applied at
the location of 34 fiducial points, producing a
better recognition rate (92.2%) than when only
geometric positions (coordinates of the fiducial
points) (73.3%) are used.
In the work of Feitosa et al. (Feitosa et al,
2000), PCA and Neural Networks were used to
recognize BEs on the JAFFE database (Lyons et al,
1998). RBF (Radial Basis Function) reached a
recognition rate a little higher (73.2%) than MLP
in their best configurations (71.8%). However,
MLP was more stable than RBF regarding changes
of Principal Components and among the classes.
Bartlett et al. (Bartlett et al., 2002) used Gabor
filters and SVM to recognize three kinds of AUs:
Blinks, Brow Raising and Brow Lowering. A
nonlinear SVM applied to the Gabor
representations obtained 95.9% of correct
classification for discriminating blinks from non-
blinks AUs.
In the work of Nakano et al. (Nakano et al,
2002), Simple Principal Component Analysis
(SPCA) were used to extract features from smiles.
The value of cos θ, being θ the angle between the
eigenvector and the gray scale vector of each
image, was calculated and used as input to a MLP.
The average rate of correct classification
discriminating between true (natural) and false
(plastic/forced) smile was 92.0%.
In the work of Kapoor et al. (Kapoor et al.,
2003), PCA and SVM were used to recognize
facial action units related to upper facial muscle
movements, such as inner eyebrow raising, eye
widening, etc. Using the Cohn-Kanade Facial
Expression Database (Kanade et al, 2000), the
system reached an accuracy of 81.22%.
Matsugu et al. (Matsugu et al., 2003) proposed
a rule-based facial analysis to distinguish
smiling/laughing faces from others BEs based on
variations of some face parameters as the
expression changes from neutral to smiling. A
score is calculated to quantify the variations and
thresholded for deciding whether the subject is
smiling or not. Experimental results demonstrated
reliable detection of smiles with correct
recognition rate of 97.6%.
Shinohara and Otsu (Shinohara and Otsu,
2004) used Higher Order Local Auto-Correlation
(HLAC) features and Fisher weight maps to
discriminate between neutral and smiling faces.
The recognition rate of the proposed method was
97.9%, while Fisherfaces method was 93.8% and
HLAC without a weight map was 72.9%.
Our main goal is to train a classifier to learn the
relationships between face expressions and the
concept of a photogenic picture of a person.
In this section, we present a methodology
designed to the photogeny problem. Figure 1
shows the steps composing the methodology.
Figure 1: Photogeny discrimination framework
In the first step (block A in Figure 1), we
selected a subset from the Cohn-Kanade Facial
Expression Database. The pictures corresponding
to neutral and happiness expressions were labeled
as photogenic; whereas the pictures corresponding
to the others expressions were labeled as non-
photogenic. This re-labeling was based on a
subjective evaluation of all images in the database.
The preprocessing step (block D in Figure 1) is
composed by the operations Resizing, Gray Level
Transformation and Histogram Equalization.
Whereas the others steps (blocks C, E and F) are
specific to each experiment performed (see Section
In this paper, we assume that the problem Face
Location (block B in Figure 1) is solved. For an
extensive review in this area, see the paper of
Hjelmas and Low (Hjelmas and Low, 2001).
To perform the experiments, we selected a set of
324 images from the Cohn-Kanade Facial
Expression Database. A total of 162 pictures were
labeled as photogenic; whereas 162 pictures were
labeled as non-photogenic. The subset was
separated in training (75%; 244 images) and
testing (25%; 80 images), so that the people
contained into the training set are not contained
into test set. Table 1 shows some examples of this
image set.
Initially, we investigated the impact of
applying Gabor filters (Lee, 1996), as feature
extractors, in the following regions: (i) left side of
the face, (ii) left side of the mouth, (iii) left eye and
(iv) left side of the mouth and left eye. The choice
of the left side is motivated by a study that shows
this area is moved more extensively during facial
expression changes (Borod et al. 1998).
Additionally, we used the extracted features to
compare the discriminating performance of the
SVMs with the K-Nearest Neighbor (K-NN)
classifier, for distinguishing photogenic from non-
photogenic faces.
The results in Tables 2 and 3 show that SVM
achieved better correct discrimination rates than K-
NN (77.50% versus 71.25%, respectively).
Table 1: Examples of photogenic and non-photogenic
Photogenic Non-photogenic
Image Acquisition
Face Location
Region of Interest
Feature Extraction
Table 2: Correct Discrimination Rates using SVM.
Regions/Classifier SVM
left side of the face
C-SVC + Polinomial Kernel
left side of the mouth
C-SVC + Polinomial Kernel
left eye
C-SVC + RBF Kernel
73.75% left side of the mouth
+ left eye
C-SVC + Polinomial Kernel
Table 3: Correct Discrimination Rates using K-NN.
Regions/Classifier K-NN
whole image
k = 1 or k = 2
left side of the mouth
k = 2
left eye
k = 1
left side of the mouth + left eye
k = 2
From Tables 2 and 3, we can also conclude
that only the left side of the mouth is necessary to
discriminate between the classes. Therefore, from
this step on, we considered only that part of the
face as our region of interest (ROI) (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Region of interest.
After extracting the left sides of the mouth, the
corresponding sub-images were resized to 20x25
pixels and transformed to 256 gray levels. Next,
histogram equalization was performed. These
operations are illustrated in Figure 3. Finally, a
number of Principal Components were extracted
from these images.
Figure 3: Preprocessing steps.
We began the experiments using SVM
(Vapnik, 1999) as classifier - a kernel-based
learning machine that has been successfully used
for pattern recognition – in order to perform a later
comparative study with MLP. The number of
Principal Components (PCs) was varied from 3 to
the maximum. That is, we used 3, 5, 8, 11, 16, 28,
56, 90, 133 and 242 (which contribute more than
2%, 1.25%, 1%, 0.75%, 0.5%, 0.25%, 0.1%,
0.05%, 0.025% and 0%, respectively, to the
variance in the data set) components to train 10
Each SVM was trained with parameters
automatically obtained from the “” script,
available at LibSVM toolbox (Chang and Lin,
This script is a model selection tool for C-
SVC classification using RBF kernel. It uses the
cross validation method to estimate the accuracy of
each parameter combination; finding, therefore, the
best parameters for a specific problem.
Figure 4: Number of PCs versus Recognition Rate.
Recognition Rate
Number of PCs
Gray Level
From Figure 4, we can observe that using only
16 PCs - which contribute more than 0.5% to the
variance in the data set – the best recognition rate
is reached, that is, 81.25%.
Once obtained the number of PCs necessary to
discriminate between the 2 classes studied in this
article, we performed another experiment using a
MLP as classifier. The number of hidden neurons
was varied from 1 to 10, while the number of PCs
was fixed in 16. Figure 5 shows that the best
recognition rate, 87.5%, was obtained using 4
neurons on the hidden layer. Table 4 presents the
confusion matrix for this experiment.
Figure 5: Number of Hidden Neurons versus
Recognition Rate
Table 4: Confusion Matrix.
Photogenic Non- Photogenic
Non- Photogenic 6
From this result, it is possible to conclude that
the combination PCA with MLP is more suitable to
the photogeny problem than the utilization of
Gabor filters with SVM.
In this paper, we present a novel methodology that
linked facial expressions with the concept of a
photogenic picture of the face of a person. PCA
was used to extract features from the images while
a Neural Network was tested as classifier.
In the experiments reported, a comparison
between MLP and SVM was performed; and
different numbers of Principal Components and
hidden neurons were tested. The experiments have
shown that both PCA and MLP are promising,
having achieved good recognition rates, similar to
the ones in the existing work on specific class
facial expression recognition. However, it is
important to emphasize that we cannot perform a
direct comparison with other previous methods,
since the idea here is to deal with the problem of
photogeny, not facial expression recognition.
The work of Elkman (Ekman, 1982)
constitutes a solid foundation for many facial
expression analysis works. One important
difficulty with the classification of photogenic
pictures is due to the high subjectivity involved in
labeling the datasets. Therefore, our ultimate goal
is to define the basis for this new area. This paper
represents an initial effort towards this goal and is
restricted to a more intuitive/obvious subset of
photogenic faces (neutral and happy).
As future work we intend to incorporate in the
experiments images containing facial expressions
of people with the eyes closed. Another future
work is to create a custom-built larger image
database and use a voting scheme to assign labels
(e.g. photogenic, non-photogenic) to the images.
Finally, we intend to use Bayesian Regularization
(Foresee and Hagan, 1997) in order to obtain the
best MLP architecture.
The authors would like to thank Hewlett Packard
for their support and collaboration and Professor
Walfredo da Costa Cirne Filho for his useful
comments and suggestions for improving this
The authors also would like to thank Professor
Jeffrey Cohn for granting access to the Cohn-
Kanade AU-Coded Facial Expression Database.
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