SketchAA: Abstract Representation for Abstract Sketches
What makes free-hand sketches appealing for humans lies with its capability as a universal tool to depict the visual world. Such flexibility at human ease, however, introduces abstract renderings that pose unique challenges to computer vision models. In this paper, we propose a purpose-made sketch representation for human sketches. The key intuition is that such representation should be abstract at design, so to accommodate the abstract nature of sketches. This is achieved by interpreting sketch abstraction on two levels: appearance and structure. We abstract sketch structure as a pre-defined coarse-to-fine visual block hierarchy, and average visual features within each block to model appearance abstraction. We then discuss three general strategies on how to exploit feature synergy across different levels of this abstraction hierarchy. The superiority of explicitly abstracting sketch representation is empirically validated on a number of sketch analysis tasks, including sketch recognition, fine-grained sketch-based image retrieval, and generative sketch healing. Our simple design not only yields strong results on all said tasks, but also offers intuitive feature granularity control to tailor for various downstream tasks. Code will be made publicly available.