Decomposing Single Images for Layered Photo Retouching

Carlo Innamorati, Tobias Ritschel, Tim Weyrich, Niloy J. Mitra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Photographers routinely compose multiple manipulated photos of the same scene into a single image, producing a fidelity difficult to achieve using any individual photo. Alternately, 3D artists set up rendering systems to produce layered images to isolate individual aspects of the light transport, which are composed into the final result in post-production. Regrettably, these approaches either take considerable time and effort to capture, or remain limited to synthetic scenes. In this paper, we suggest a method to decompose a single image into multiple layers that approximates effects such as shadow, diffuse illumination, albedo, and specular shading. To this end, we extend the idea of intrinsic images along two axes: first, by complementing shading and reflectance with specularity and occlusion, and second, by introducing directional dependence. We do so by training a convolutional neural network (CNN) with synthetic data. Such decompositions can then be manipulated in any off-the-shelf image manipulation software and composited back. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our decomposition on synthetic (i. e., rendered) and real data (i. e., photographs), and use them for photo manipulations, which are otherwise impossible to perform based on single images. We provide comparisons with state-of-the-art methods and also evaluate the quality of our decompositions via a user study measuring the effectiveness of the resultant photo retouching setup. Supplementary material and code are available for research use at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalComputer Graphics Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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