DeepFacePencil: Creating Face Images from Freehand Sketches

Yuhang Li, Xuejin Chen*, Binxin Yang, Zihan Chen, Zhiyuan Cheng, and Zheng-Jun Zha
National Engineering Laboratory for Brain-inspired Intelligence Technology and Application
University of Science and Technology of China


In this paper, we explore the task of generating photo-realistic face images from hand-drawn sketches. Existing image-to-image translation methods require a large-scale dataset of paired sketches and images for supervision. They typically utilize synthesized edge maps of face images as training data. However, these synthesized edge maps strictly align with the edges of the corresponding face images, which limit their generalization ability to real hand-drawn sketches with vast stroke diversity. To address this problem, we propose DeepFacePencil, an effective tool that is able to generate photo-realistic face images from hand-drawn sketches, based on a novel dual generator image translation network during training. A novel spatial attention pooling (SAP) is designed to adaptively handle stroke distortions which are spatially varying to support various stroke styles and different level of details. We conduct extensive experiments and the results demonstrate the superiority of our model over existing methods on both image quality and model generalization to hand-drawn sketches.


Figure 1: The architecture of our dual-generator model with spatial attention pooling (SAP) for deformed sketches. In order to train a face image generator πΊπ‘š for hand-drawn sketches, we synthesize deformed sketches Sπ‘‘π‘“π‘š from an edge-aligned sketch S𝑠𝑦𝑛 and design a spatially attention pooling module to extract shape and structure features from distorted sketches. The dual generators πΊπ‘š and πΊπ‘Ž are trained simultaneously with three discriminators in an adversarial manner.

Spatial Attention Pooling (SAP)

Figure 2: Network architecture of our spatial attention pooling module.


Figure 3: Both our model and existing models, which generate plausible photo-realistic face images from synthesized sketches in training set, are able to be generalized to synthesized test sketches without deformation that shows similar distribution with the training data distribution.

Figure 4: For sketches with large deformation, both baseline model and baseline_deform model fail to generate satisfying results. Artifacts can be found in areas with large sketch deformation in (b) and (c). Our results maintain high image quality even large deformation occurs in the input sketch.

Figure 5: Our model is successfully generalized to well-drawn expert sketches, while the result quality of baseline models degenerates even trained with deformed sketches.

Figure 6: For these challenging sketches drawn by common users, our model is able to generate plausible results. In comparison, the results of baseline models are over blurry and present obvious artifacts in fine textures.


This work was supported by the National Key Research & Development Plan of China under Grant 2016YFB1001402, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under Grants 61632006, U19B2038, and 61620106009, as well as the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities under Grants WK3490000003 and WK2100100030.We thank the Supercomputing Center of USTC for providing computational resources.


 author = {Li, Yuhang and Chen, Xuejin and Yang, Binxin and Chen, Zihan and Cheng, Zhihua and Zha, Zheng-Jun},
 title = {DeepFacePencil: Creating Face Images from Freehand Sketches},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the 28th ACM International Conference on Multimedia},
 series = {MM '20},
 year = {2020},
 isbn = {978-1-4503-7988-5/20/10},
 location = {Seattle, WA, USA},
 pages = {},
 numpages = {9},
 url = {},
 doi = {10.1145/3394171.3413684},
 acmid = {3413684},
 publisher = {ACM},
 address = {New York, NY, USA},
 keywords = {Sketch-based synthesis, face image generation, spatial attention, dual generator, conditional generative adversarial networks},




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