StyleMeUp: Towards Style-Agnostic Sketch-Based Image Retrieval

Aneeshan Sain, Ayan Kumar Bhunia, Yongxin Yang and, Tao Xiang, Yi-Zhe Song

Sketch-based image retrieval (SBIR) is a cross-modal matching problem which is typically solved by learning a joint embedding space where the semantic content shared between photo and sketch modalities are preserved. However, a fundamental challenge in SBIR has been largely ignored so far, that is, sketches are drawn by humans and considerable style variations exist amongst different users. An effective SBIR model needs to explicitly account for this style diversity, crucially, to generalise to unseen user styles. To this end, a novel style-agnostic SBIR model is proposed. Different from existing models, a cross-modal variational autoencoder (VAE) is employed to explicitly disentangle each sketch into a semantic content part shared with the corresponding photo, and a style part unique to the sketcher. Importantly, to make our model dynamically adaptable to any unseen user styles, we propose to meta-train our cross-modal VAE by adding two style-adaptive components: a set of feature transformation layers to its encoder and a regulariser to the disentangled semantic content latent code. With this meta-learning framework, our model can not only disentangle the cross-modal shared semantic content for SBIR, but can adapt the disentanglement to any unseen user style as well, making the SBIR model truly style-agnostic. Extensive experiments show that our style-agnostic model yields state-of-the-art performance for both category-level and instance-level SBIR.

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