The surface normal of a range image of a face can be decomposed into three components. The combinations of these three weighted components produce 2-D intensity images with different illuminations. A phase-only vector filter is designed based on these normal components. With such a vector filter, the face recognition can be performed between range face and range face, or between range face and intensity face. This kind of recognition is less sensitive to the changes of illumination of the input face. © 1997 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.