Free-hand Sketch Understanding and Analysis
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With the proliferation of touch screens, sketching input has become popular among many software products. This phenomenon has stimulated a new round of boom in free-hand sketch research, covering topics like sketch recognition, sketch-based image retrieval, sketch synthesis and sketch segmentation. Comparing to previous sketch works, the newly proposed works are generally employing more complicated sketches and sketches in much larger quantity, thanks to the advancements in hardware. This thesis thus demonstrates some new works on free-hand sketches, presenting novel thoughts on aforementioned topics. On sketch recognition, Eitz et al.  are the first explorers, who proposed the large-scale TU-Berlin sketch dataset  that made sketch recognition possible. Following their work, we continue to analyze the dataset and find that the visual cue sparsity and internal structural complexity are the two biggest challenges for sketch recognition. Accordingly, we propose multiple kernel learning  to fuse multiple visual cues and star graph representation  to encode the structures of the sketches. With the new schemes, we have achieved significant improvement on recognition accuracy (from 56% to 65.81%). Experimental study on sketch attributes is performed to further boost sketch recognition performance and enable novel retrieval-by-attribute applications. For sketch-based image retrieval, we start by carefully examining the existing works. After looking at the big picture of sketch-based image retrieval, we highlight that studying the sketch’s ability to distinguish intra-category object variations should be the most promising direction to proceed on, and we define it as the fine-grained sketch-based image retrieval problem. Deformable part-based model which addresses object part details and object deformations is raised to tackle this new problem, and graph matching is employed to compute the similarity between deformable part-based models by matching the parts of different models. To evaluate this new problem, we combine the TU-Berlin sketch dataset and the PASCAL VOC photo dataset  to form a new challenging cross-domain dataset with pairwise sketch-photo similarity ratings, and our proposed method has shown promising results on this new dataset. Regarding sketch synthesis, we focus on the generating of real free-hand style sketches for general categories, as the closest previous work  only managed to show efficacy on a single category: human faces. The difficulties that impede sketch synthesis to reach other categories include the cluttered edges and diverse object variations due to deformation. To address those difficulties, we propose a deformable stroke model to form the sketch synthesis into a detection process, which is directly aiming at the cluttered background and the object variations. To alleviate the training of such a model, a perceptual grouping algorithm is further proposed that utilizes stroke length’s relationship to stroke semantics, stroke temporal order and Gestalt principles  to perform part-level sketch segmentation. The perceptual grouping provides semantic part-level supervision automatically for the deformable stroke model training, and an iterative learning scheme is introduced to gradually refine the supervision and the model training. With the learned deformable stroke models, sketches with distinct free-hand style can be generated for many categories.
- Theses