SketchParse : Towards Rich Descriptions for Poorly Drawn Sketches using Multi-Task Hierarchical Deep Networks

The ability to semantically interpret hand-drawn line sketches, although very challenging, can pave way for novel applications in multimedia. We propose SketchParse, the first deep-network architecture for fully automatic parsing of freehand object sketches. SketchParse is configured as a two-level fully convolutional network. The first level contains shared layers common to all object categories. The second level contains a number of expert sub-networks. Each expert specializes in parsing sketches from object categories which contain structurally similar parts. Effectively, the two-level configuration enables our architecture to scale up efficiently as additional categories are added. We introduce a router layer which (i) relays sketch features from shared layers to the correct expert (ii) eliminates the need to manually specify object category during inference. To bypass laborious part-level annotation, we sketchify photos from semantic object-part image datasets and use them for training. Our architecture also incorporates object pose prediction as a novel auxiliary task which boosts overall performance while providing supplementary information regarding the sketch. We demonstrate SketchParse's abilities (i) on two challenging large-scale sketch datasets (ii) in parsing unseen, semantically related object categories (iii) in improving fine-grained sketch-based image retrieval. As a novel application, we also outline how SketchParse's output can be used to generate caption-style descriptions for hand-drawn sketches.

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