In the early days of computer graphics, research was mainly driven by the goal to create realistic synthetic imagery. By contrast, non-photorealistic computer graphics, established as its own branch of computer graphics in the early 1990s, is mainly motivated by concepts and principles found in traditional art forms, such as painting, illustration, and graphic design, and it investigates concepts and techniques that abstract from reality using expressive, stylized, or illustrative rendering techniques. This thesis focuses on the artistic stylization of two-dimensional content and presents several novel automatic techniques for the creation of simplified stylistic illustrations from color images, video, and 3D renderings. Primary innovation of these novel techniques is that they utilize the smooth structure tensor as a simple and efficient way to obtain information about the local structure of an image.
More specifically, this thesis contributes to knowledge in this field in the following ways. First, a comprehensive review of the structure tensor is provided. In particular, different methods for integrating the minor eigenvector field of the smoothed structure tensor are developed, and the superiority of the smoothed structure tensor over the popular edge tangent flow is demonstrated. Second, separable implementations of the popular bilateral and difference of Gaussians filters that adapt to the local structure are presented. These filters avoid artifacts while being computationally highly efficient. Taken together, both provide an effective way to create a cartoon-style effect. Third, a generalization of the Kuwahara filter is presented that avoids artifacts by adapting the shape, scale, and orientation of the filter to the local structure. This causes directional image features to be better preserved and emphasized, resulting in overall sharper edges and a more feature-abiding painterly effect. In addition to the single-scale variant, a multi-scale variant is presented, which is capable of performing a highly aggressive abstraction. Fourth, a technique that builds upon the idea of combining flow-guided smoothing with shock filtering is presented, allowing for an aggressive exaggeration and an emphasis of directional image features.
All presented techniques are suitable for temporally coherent per-frame filtering of video or dynamic 3D renderings, without requiring expensive extra processing, such as optical flow. Moreover, they can be efficiently implemented to process content in real-time on a GPU.