Published on Mon Mar 28 2016

Colorful Image Colorization

Richard Zhang, Phillip Isola, Alexei A. Efros

This paper attacks the problem of creating a plausible color version of a photograph. We embrace the underlying uncertainty of the problem by posing it as a classification task. The system is implemented as afeed-forward pass in a CNN.

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Abstract

Given a grayscale photograph as input, this paper attacks the problem of hallucinating a plausible color version of the photograph. This problem is clearly underconstrained, so previous approaches have either relied on significant user interaction or resulted in desaturated colorizations. We propose a fully automatic approach that produces vibrant and realistic colorizations. We embrace the underlying uncertainty of the problem by posing it as a classification task and use class-rebalancing at training time to increase the diversity of colors in the result. The system is implemented as a feed-forward pass in a CNN at test time and is trained on over a million color images. We evaluate our algorithm using a "colorization Turing test," asking human participants to choose between a generated and ground truth color image. Our method successfully fools humans on 32% of the trials, significantly higher than previous methods. Moreover, we show that colorization can be a powerful pretext task for self-supervised feature learning, acting as a cross-channel encoder. This approach results in state-of-the-art performance on several feature learning benchmarks.