Image segmentation and reflection analysis through color

Gudrun J. Klinker, Steven A. Shafer, Takeo Kanade

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present an approach to color image understanding that can be used to segment and analyze surfaces with color variations due to highlights and shading. We begin with a theory that relates the reflected light from dielectric materials, such as plastic, to fundamental physical reflection processes, and describes the color of the reflected light as a linear combination of the color of the light due to surface reflection (highlights) and body reflection (object color). This theory is used in an algorithm that separates a color image into two parts: an image of just the highlights, and the original image with the highlights removed. In the past, we have applied this method to hand-segmented images. The current paper shows how to perform automatic segmentation method by applying this theory in stages to identify the object and highlight colors. The result is a combination of segmentation and reflection analysis that is better than traditional heuristic segmentation methods (such as histogram thresholding), and provides important physical information about the surface geometry and material properties at the same time. We also show the importance of modeling the camera properties for this kind of quantitative analysis of color. This line of research can lead to physics-based image segmentation methods that are both more reliable and more useful than traditional segmentation methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-244
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 29 Mar 1988
Externally publishedYes
EventApplications of Artificial Intelligence VI 1988 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 4 Apr 19888 Apr 1988


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