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Character-Aware Models Improve Visual Text Rendering

Chitwan Saharia
William Chan
Sharan Narang
Irina Blok
RJ Mical
Mohammad Norouzi
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2023)


Current image generation models struggle to reliably produce well-formed visual text. In this paper, we investigate a key contributing factor: popular text-to-image models lack character-level input features, making it much harder to predict a word's visual makeup as a series of glyphs. To quantify this effect, we conduct a series of experiments comparing character-aware vs. character-blind text encoders. In the text-only domain, we find that character-aware models provide large gains on a novel spelling task (WikiSpell). Applying our learnings to the visual domain, we train a suite of image generation models, and show that character-aware variants outperform their character-blind counterparts across a range of novel text rendering tasks (our DrawText benchmark). Our models set a much higher state-of-the-art on visual spelling, with 30+ point accuracy gains over competitors on rare words, despite training on far fewer examples.