Note: This post was originally featured on Graphical Blues, a blog for my Advanced Graphics course

For my final project, I worked on implementing image quilting — generating larger versions of smaller images that approximate the textures of the original image. Below are some of the original textures that’ll we be trying to expand.

The general algorithm works best with images that already have the general texture “appearance”. As we’ll see later, it doesn’t work very well on non-textural images.

Random Patches

This first batch of attempts is done by randomly selecting blocks from the original image and then assorting them into a grid pattern. It’s understandably simple to implement, and while not horrible it’s certainly not the best we can do.


Again, we choose chunks from the original image and then lay them on top of each other to form the final generation. However, we don’t choose randomly. Instead, when deciding on adjacent chunks we sample blocks that have some degree of overlap, where overlap is defined as adjacent edges (left+right or top+bottom) having similar pixels when overlaid upon each other by some user-specified amount.

We sample all possible chunks from the original image and then find the chunks that when overlaid have the smallest difference from the texture we’ve built up so far. In my particular implementation I calculate the difference of two image regions (the error) through the difference in luminosity.

I also added some randomness to my selection algorithm — I found that often my algorithm would find pairs of blocks that overlapped well on both edges and looped them, which caused unpleasant repetition within the texture. Randomly discarding possible candidates helped alleviate this.

This ends up looking much better than the random selection. However, it is near impossible to always find good overlaps, so edge seams are still visible to an extent.

Minimum Cut

The core algorithm here is extremely similar to the above. The only difference is how we handle the overlapping regions.

In the prior section, we overlaid images left to right, top to bottom, giving chunks priority in that scan order (the image to the right of another would occupy the entire overlap space, causing the rectangular seam).

In this case, we instead look to find the best possible edge (a ragged edge) that separates adjacent chunks. We do this by calculating the squared difference between overlaid images (again, using luminosity), and create an image representation from that. Then we walk along the image, doing our best to stay on pixels with minimum error (that in our image representation will be represented as darker pixels). We then split along that bound.

The purple lines in the image above demonstrate the cut points.

Something to note is that cell size and overlap size (as said above), need to be manually tuned on a per-texture basis. Here’s an example of trying to generate textures given a checkerboard patter with a cell size that doesn’t align with the checkerboard size:

We do get a decent texture out of it, but the differing cell size doesn’t properly preserve the original texture of the image.

Just for fun, as we said before, the general algorithm only works on images that already represent “textures” in some way. Trying them on portraits for example gives (un)expected results.

Texture Transfer

We can repurpose the algorithms above to add the ability to transfer textures between images.

The way we do this is to keep generation tied to a source image while referring to a texture. When selecting blocks from the texture, besides our edge-overlap heuristic, we also detect how similar that chunk is to the relevant chunk from the source image.

Note that this still requires proper selection of cell size, as well as a bias property that decides whether we weigh texture continuity or image relevance higher. Trying to map the leaves picture above to a portrait with too small of a cell size and too high of an image relevance produces a matching texture, but one that doesn’t properly represent the original texture.