Model-based techniques have proven to be successful in interpreting the large amount of information contained in images. Associated fitting algorithms search for the global optimum of an objective function, which should correspond to the best model fit in a given image. Although fitting algorithms have been the subject of intensive research and evaluation, the objective function is usually designed ad hoc, based on implicit and domain-dependent knowledge. In this article, we address the root of the problem by learning more robust objective functions. First, we formulate a set of desirable properties for objective functions and give a concrete example function that has these properties. Then, we propose a novel approach that learns an objective function from training data generated by manual image annotations and this ideal objective function. In this approach, critical decisions such as feature selection are automated, and the remaining manual steps hardly require domain-dependent knowledge. Furthermore, an extensive empirical evaluation demonstrates that the obtained objective functions yield more robustness. Learned objective functions enable fitting algorithms to determine the best model fit more accurately than with designed objective functions.