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We introduced YouTube video “Autocomplete hand-drawn animations” uploaded by Jun Xing, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science, University of Hong Kong, under the supervision of Li-Yi Wei, in our weekly news.

It’s a very fascinating project. It applies the concept of autocomplete to animation drawing. It means that the sketch of the next frame will be predicted based on initial drawing such as Figure1 to 3.

Figure 1: Draw the first illustration

Figure 2: Draw its back line at the point where the fish will move

Figure 3: Automatically the software suggests a skeleton to trace

We asked Li-Yi Wei for his comments how this project started, their goal, and how they intend to develop the project further.

How project started

Li-Yi Wei says that it actually started from a conversation on Facebook in August 2014. Koji Yatani (the University of Tokyo) asked Li-Yi to recommend students for a Microsoft Research Asia internship, Takaaki Shiratori, with topics in animation and sketch UI. Li-Yi recommended his student Jun Xing as a perfect candidate, whose paper was just accepted in SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 titled “autocomplete painting repetitions” (YouTube video below).

The goal of the project

The initial goal was actually to help users create animated emoji in instant messaging but changed to autocomplete single-frame drawings for multi-frame animations according to Li-Yi Wei. This is because the authors wanted to make sure that their collective expertise would be maximised and have significance, for example, in SIGGRAPH. Thus the plan was to extend the concept presented in the SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 paper.

Developing the project further

They plan to ship prototypes of the system to gather user opinions for further research and improvements, starting with mobile apps followed by desktop versions. They aim to help ordinary users draw as easily and effectively as possible through their research.

It’s amazing to hear what Li-Yi Wei says that computer scientist can ask algorithm to help them draw. It is very interesting how this project develops further.

[Note: Li-Yi Wei would like to emphasize that this is NOT a Microsoft technology/product. None of the authors were with Microsoft during the key stages of the project development.]


1: Li-Yi Wei (2015), Autocomplete hand-drawn animations. [blog] (2015) Confessions of a researchaholic. Available from:<http://blog.liyiwei.org/?p=1992>. [27 October 2015].

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