Directed Diffusion: Direct Control of Object Placement through Attention Guidance

Kurt Wan-Duo Ma
JP Lewis
Bastiaan Kleijn


Text-guided diffusion models such as DALLE-2, IMAGEN, and Stable Diffusion are able to generate an effectively endless variety of images given only a short text prompt describing the desired image content. In many cases the images are very high quality as well. However, these models often struggle to compose scenes containing several key objects such as characters in specified positional relationships. Unfortunately, this capability to ``direct'' the placement of characters and objects both within and across images is crucial in storytelling, as recognized in the literature on film and animation theory. In this work we take a particularly straightforward approach to providing the needed direction, by injecting ``activation'' at desired positions in the cross-attention maps corresponding to the objects under control, while attenuating the remainder of the map. The resulting approach is a step toward generalizing the applicability of text-guided diffusion models beyond single images to collections of related images, as in storybooks. To the best of our knowledge, our Directed Diffusion method is the first diffusion technique that provides positional control over multiple objects, while making use of an existing pre-trained model and maintaining a coherent blend between the positioned objects and the background. Moreover, it requires only a few lines to implement.