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Version: 0.91.0

Active Shape Model Fitting

In this tutorial we show how we can perform active shape model fitting in Scalismo.

The following resources from our online course may provide some helpful context for this tutorial:

To run the code from this tutorial, download the following Scala file:


As in the previous tutorials, we start by importing some commonly used objects and initializing the system.

import scalismo.geometry._
import scalismo.transformations._
import scalismo.registration._
import scalismo.mesh.TriangleMesh
import scalismo.statisticalmodel.asm._
import{ActiveShapeModelIO, ImageIO}

import scalismo.ui.api._
import breeze.linalg.{DenseVector}
implicit val rng: scalismo.utils.Random = scalismo.utils.Random(42)

val ui = ScalismoUI()

Active Shape models in Scalismo

Scalismo provides full support for Active Shape models. This means we can use it to learn active shape models from a set of images and corresponding contour, we can save these models, and we can use them to fit images. In this tutorial we will assume that the model has already been built and will only concentrate on model fitting.

We can load an Active Shape Model as follows:

val asm = ActiveShapeModelIO.readActiveShapeModel(new"datasets/femur-asm.h5")).get

An ActiveShapeModel instance in Scalismo is a combination of a statistical shape model and an intensity model. Using the method statisticalModel, we can obtain the shape model part. Let's visualize this model:

val modelGroup = ui.createGroup("modelGroup")
val modelView =, asm.statisticalModel, "shapeModel")

The second part of the model is the intensity model. This model consists of a set of profiles, which are attached to specific vertices of the shape model, indicated by the pointId. For each profile, a probability distribution is defined. This distribution represent the intensity variation that we expect for this profile.

The following code shows how this information can be accessed:

val profiles = asm.profiles => {
val pointId = profile.pointId
val distribution = profile.distribution

Finding likely model correspondences in an image

The main usage of the profile distribution is to identify the points in the image, which are most likely to correspond to the given profile points in the model. More precisely, let pip_i denote the i-th profile in the model. We can use the information to evaluate for any set of points (x1,,xn)(x_1, \ldots, x_n), how likely it is that a point xjx_j corresponds to the profile point pip_i, based on the image intensity patterns ρ(x1),,ρ(xn)\rho(x_1), \ldots, \rho(x_n) we find at these points in an image.

To illustrate this, we first load an image:

val image = ImageIO.read3DScalarImage[Short](new"datasets/femur-image.nii"))
val targetGroup = ui.createGroup("target")

val imageView =, image, "image")

The ASM implementation in Scalismo, is not restricted to work with the raw intensities, but the active shape model may first apply some preprocessing, such as smooth, applying a gradient transform, etc. Thus in a first step we obtain this preprocess iamge uing the prepocessor method of the asm object:

val preprocessedImage = asm.preprocessor(image)

We can now extract features at a given point:

val point1 = image.domain.origin + EuclideanVector3D(10.0, 10.0, 10.0)
val profile = asm.profiles.head
val feature1 : DenseVector[Double] = asm.featureExtractor(preprocessedImage, point1, asm.statisticalModel.mean, profile.pointId).get

Here we specified the preprocessed image, a point in the image where whe want the evaluate the feature vector, a mesh instance and a point id for the mesh. The mesh instance and point id are needed, since a feature extractor might choose to extract the feature based on mesh information, such as the normal direction of a line at this point.

We can retrieve the likelihood that each corresponding point corresponds to a given profile point:

val point2 = image.domain.origin + EuclideanVector3D(20.0, 10.0, 10.0)
val featureVec1 = asm.featureExtractor(preprocessedImage, point1, asm.statisticalModel.mean, profile.pointId).get
val featureVec2 = asm.featureExtractor(preprocessedImage, point2, asm.statisticalModel.mean, profile.pointId).get

val probabilityPoint1 = profile.distribution.logpdf(featureVec1)
val probabilityPoint2 = profile.distribution.logpdf(featureVec2)

Based on this information, we can decide, which point is more likely to correspond to the model point. This idea forms the basis of the original m Active Shape Model Fitting algorithm.

The original Active Shape Model Fitting

Scalismo features an implementation of Active Shape Model fitting algorithm, as proposed by Cootes and Taylor.

To configure the fitting process, we need to set up a search method, which searches for a given model point, corresponding points in the image. From these points, the most likely point is select and used as as the corresponding point for one iteration of the algorithm. Once these "candidate correspondences" have been established, the rest of the algorithm works in exactly the same as the ICP algorithm that we described in the previous tutorials.

One search strategy that is already implemented in Scalismo is to search along the normal direction of a model point. This behavior is provided by the NormalDirectionSearchPointSampler

val searchSampler = NormalDirectionSearchPointSampler(numberOfPoints = 100, searchDistance = 3)

In addition to the search strategy, we can specify some additional configuration parameters to control the fitting process:

val config = FittingConfiguration(featureDistanceThreshold = 3, pointDistanceThreshold = 5, modelCoefficientBounds = 3)

The first parameter determines how far away (as measured by the mahalanobis distance) an intensity feature can be, such that it is still chosen as corresponding. The pointDistanceThreshold does the same for the distance of the points; I.e. in this case points which are more than 5 standard deviations aways are not chosen as corresponding points. The last parameters determines how large coefficients of the model can become in the fitting process. Whenever a model parameter is larger than this threshold, it will be set back to this maximal value. This introduces a regularization into the fitting, which prevents the shape from becoming too unlikely.

The ASM fitting algorithm optimizes both the pose (as defined by a rigid transformation) and the shape. In order to allow it to optimize the rotation, it is important that we choose a rotation center, which is approximately the center of mass of the model:

    // make sure we rotate around a reasonable center point
val modelBoundingBox = asm.statisticalModel.reference.boundingBox
val rotationCenter = modelBoundingBox.origin + modelBoundingBox.extent * 0.5

To initialize the fitting process, we also need to set up the initial transformation:

// we start with the identity transform
val translationTransformation = Translation3D(EuclideanVector3D(0, 0, 0))
val rotationTransformation = Rotation3D(0, 0, 0, rotationCenter)
val initialRigidTransformation = TranslationAfterRotation3D(translationTransformation, rotationTransformation)
val initialModelCoefficients = DenseVector.zeros[Double](asm.statisticalModel.rank)
val initialTransformation = ModelTransformations(initialModelCoefficients, initialRigidTransformation)

To start the fitting, we obtain an iterator, which we subsequently use to drive the iteration.

val numberOfIterations = 20
val asmIterator = asm.fitIterator(image, searchSampler, numberOfIterations, config, initialTransformation)

Especially in a debugging phase, we want to visualize the result in every iteration. The following code shows, how we can obtain a new iterator, which updates the pose transformation and model coefficients in the ui in every iteration:

val asmIteratorWithVisualization = => {
it match {
case scala.util.Success(iterationResult) => {
modelView.shapeModelTransformationView.poseTransformationView.transformation = iterationResult.transformations.rigidTransform
modelView.shapeModelTransformationView.shapeTransformationView.coefficients = iterationResult.transformations.coefficients
case scala.util.Failure(error) => System.out.println(error.getMessage)

To run the fitting, and get the result, we finally consume the iterator:

val result = asmIteratorWithVisualization.toIndexedSeq.last
val finalMesh = result.get.mesh

Evaluating the likelihood of a model instance under the image

In the previous section we have used the intensity distribution to find the best corresponding image point to a given point in the model. Sometimes we are also interested in finding out how well a model fits an image. To compute this, we can extend the method used above to compute the likelihood for all profile points of an Active Shape Model.

Given the model instance, we will get the position of each profile point in the current instance, evaluate its likelihood and then compute the joint likelihood for all profiles. Assuming independence, the joint probability is just the product of the probability at the individual profile points. In order not to get too extreme values, we use log probabilities here (and consequently the product becomes a sum).

def likelihoodForMesh(asm : ActiveShapeModel, mesh : TriangleMesh[_3D], preprocessedImage: PreprocessedImage) : Double = {

val ids = asm.profiles.ids

val likelihoods = for (id <- ids) yield {
val profile = asm.profiles(id)
val profilePointOnMesh = mesh.pointSet.point(profile.pointId)
val featureAtPoint = asm.featureExtractor(preprocessedImage, profilePointOnMesh, mesh, profile.pointId).get

This method allows us to compute for each mesh, represented by the model, how likely it is to correspond to the given image.

val sampleMesh1 = asm.statisticalModel.sample()
val sampleMesh2 = asm.statisticalModel.sample()
println("Likelihood for mesh 1 = " + likelihoodForMesh(asm, sampleMesh1, preprocessedImage))
println("Likelihood for mesh 2 = " + likelihoodForMesh(asm, sampleMesh2, preprocessedImage))

This information is all that is need to write probabilistic fitting methods methods using Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods, which will be discussed in a later tutorial.