Hierarchical Image Descriptions for Classification and Painting

  • Yi-Zhe Song

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The overall argument this thesis makes is that topological object structures captured within hierarchical image descriptions are invariant to depictive styles and offer a level of abstraction found in many modern abstract artworks. To show how object structures can be extracted from images, two hierarchical image descriptions are proposed. The first of these is inspired by perceptual organisation; whereas, the second is based on agglomerative clustering of image primitives. This thesis argues the benefits and drawbacks of each image description and empirically show why the second is more suitable in capturing object strucutures. The value of graph theory is demonstrated in extracting object structures, especially from the second type of image description. User interaction during the structure extraction process is also made possible via an image hierarchy editor. Two applications of object structures are studied in depth. On the computer vision side, the problem of object classification is investigated. In particular, this thesis shows that it is possible to classify objects regardless of their depictive styles. This classification problem is approached using a graph theoretic paradigm; by encoding object structures as feature vectors of fixed lengths, object classification can then be treated as a clustering problem in structural feature space and that actual clustering can be done using conventional machine learning techniques. The benefits of object structures in computer graphics are demonstrated from a Non-Photorealistic Rendering (NPR) point of view. In particular, it is shown that topological object structures deliver an appropriate degree of abstraction that often appears in well-known abstract artworks. Moreover, the value of shape simplification is demonstrated in the process of making abstract art. By integrating object structures and simple geometric shapes, it is shown that artworks produced in child-like paintings and from artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro and Henri Matisse can be synthesised and by doing so, the current gamut of NPR styles is extended. The whole process of making abstract art is built into a single piece of software with intuitive GUI.
Date of Award1 Mar 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPeter Hall (Supervisor)


  • Computer vision
  • computer graphics

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