Matching sketches to photos

Retrievr is an interesting experiment in matching up people’s sketches with photos on the photo-sharing site Flickr (granted, for now limited to a small segment based on interestingness). There is definitely room for improvement, but it’s an interesting idea even if a bit off the mark regarding the matches for now.

I tried the service by creating some sketches of Christmas trees thinking there should be plenty in the recent Flickr pool.


Of these four, only the last one yielded any Christmas trees as results (only one of which was not itself just a drawing). The other hits were pretty random both in terms of shape and color depicting anything from cats and birds to close-up shots of flowers. One architecture image did make sense since it really does look like a tree (as noted by its creator in the photo’s title as well).

I played around with the system a bit more and realized that it may be most interesting for retrieving pictures based on color distribution. A blue-orange square yielded photos dominated by related colors.


It’s easy to find photos on Flickr based on topic (e.g. using tags or groups), but less obvious to find images based on color combination (there are exceptions, but these modes are less widespread). It is perhaps in that realm that Retrievr holds the most promise for now.

UPDATE: Here’s a pretty neat match:

Eye on Retrievr

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