Intrinsic image decomposition with step and drift shading separation

Bin Sheng, Ping Li, Yuxi Jin, Ping Tan, Tong Yee Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Decomposing an image into the shading and reflectance layers remains challenging due to its severely under-constrained nature. We present an approach based on illumination decomposition that recovers the intrinsic images without additional information, e.g., depth or user interaction. Our approach is based on the rationale that the shading component contains the step and drift channels simultaneously. We decompose the illumination into two channels: the step shading, corresponding to the sharp shading changes due to cast shadow or abrupt shape changes; the drift shading, accounting for the smooth shading variations due to gradual illumination changes or slow shape changes. Due to such transformation of turning the conventional assumption that shading has smoothness as reasonable prior, our model has the advantages in handling real images, especially with the cast shadows or strong shape edges. We also apply a much stricter edge classifier along with a reinforcement process to enhance our method. We formulate the problem using a two-parameter energy function and split it into two energy functions corresponding to the reflectance and step shading. Experiments on the MIT dataset, the IIW dataset and the MPI Sintel dataset have shown the success of our approach over the state-of-the-art methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1332-1346
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • drift shading
  • illumination decomposition
  • Intrinsic images
  • shading edge constraint
  • step shading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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