Image Ιnpainting

Vladimiros Sterzentsenko

Oil painting restoration

Early era

Image inpainting has been a cornerstone process in the history of art, aiming to fill damaged, deteriorating or even missing pieces of an artowork, while trying to mimic the original content, and when it is not available, respect the style of the piece of art.

Industrial era

With the advent of technology people enjoyed a more intermediate,accurate and faster way of depicting reality, the photography. Along with the rapid spread of photography throughout the population, came an even greater need for restoring and even sometimes complete images, since it came with a lot of caveats (exposure, high noise and more), especially in the earlier days.

Image restoration example taken from wikipedia

Information age 

Over the last few decades, technological leaps have enabled the world-wide, cheap and efficient usage of commodity cameras, as well as the extensively used digital image processing field. This field opened up countless new possibilities on image processing, especially in the inpainting or restoration tasks.

Object removal example, at first removal of the object (middle) and subsequently inpainting (right)

Object removal example, complete generation of face

Diminished Reality (DR) vs Image Inpainting

As previously explained, Diminished Reality (DR from now on), aims to create a simplified yet realistic representation of our world (very similar to object removal). So can be DR be realised with classical image inpainting as it has beed showcased above? Sadly the answer is both yes and no, or in one word depends. Let's dive in further in this answer.

Yes, DR can be solved with classical image inpainting

Taking some of the shelf, state-of-the art, methods and using them in a DR context is a fully viable solution, since once an object will be selected and erased, it will be by a fully realistic patch, some times really indistinguishable and realistic from the rest of the image. In more detail, indistinguishable is used in more of the style of the patch is highly coherent to the rest of the image, so yes we can use it.

No, DR is more of a just realism

The words indistinguishable and realistic has nothing to do with reality or true representation of the world, it refers more to the style of the overal image, rather that the context. In other words, nothing stops the image inpainters to produce results that make no sense (floating trees or dragons). So here is the major distinction in the word realistic and reality. Classical image inpainting covers the realistic part of the problem while has no guarantees for the reality part.


In all comes down to the context of the usage. There applications that do not require reality, they rather aim for realism (gaming for example). On the other hand there are applications that are more strict on the joint reality and realism requirements, where each removal must be replaced with the respect to the overall style of the room (realism) and follow the structure of the room (reality).

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