Computer Graphics

University of California - Berkeley

Generating Photo Manipulation Tutorials by Demonstration


We present a demonstration-based system for automatically generating succinct step-by-step visual tutorials of photo manipulations. An author first demonstrates the manipulation using an instrumented version of GIMP that records all changes in interface and application state. From the example recording, our system automatically generates tutorials that illustrate the manipulation using images, text, and annotations. It leverages automated image labeling (recognition of facial features and outdoor scene structures in our implementation) to generate more precise text descriptions of many of the steps in the tutorials. A user study comparing our automatically generated tutorials to hand-designed tutorials and screen-capture video recordings finds that users are 20–44% faster and make 60–95% fewer errors using our tutorials. While our system focuses on tutorial generation, we also present some initial work on generating content-dependent macros that use image recognition to automatically transfer selection operations from the example image used in the demonstration to new target images. While our macros are limited to transferring selection operations we demonstrate automatic transfer of several common retouching techniques including eye recoloring, whitening teeth and sunset enhancement.


Floraine Grabler, Maneesh Agrawala, Wilmot Li, Mira Dontcheva, and Takeo Igarashi. "Generating Photo Manipulation Tutorials by Demonstration". SIGGRAPH 2009, pages 66:1–66:9, August 2009.

Supplemental Material

For further details, including videos and supplmental materials, please see the project page hosted on the Visualization Lab website at