Category Archives: Illustration

NVIDIA GauGAN enables photo creation through words

“Days of Miracles & Wonder,” part ∞:

Rather than needing to draw out every element of an imagined scene, users can enter a brief phrase to quickly generate the key features and theme of an image, such as a snow-capped mountain range. This starting point can then be customized with sketches to make a specific mountain taller or add a couple trees in the foreground, or clouds in the sky.

It doesn’t just create realistic images — artists can also use the demo to depict otherworldly landscapes.

Here’s a 30-second demo:

And here’s a glimpse at Tatooine:

ProsePainter enables painting via descriptions

Type the name of something (e.g. “beautiful flowers”), then use a brush to specify where you want it applied. Here, just watch this demo:

The project is open source, complements of the creators of ArtBreeder.

Google “Pet Portraits” find doppelgängers in art

Super fun:

Today we are introducing Pet Portraits, a way for your dog, cat, fish, bird, reptile, horse, or rabbit to discover their very own art doubles among tens of thousands of works from partner institutions around the world. Your animal companion could be matched with ancient Egyptian figurinesvibrant Mexican street artserene Chinese watercolors, and more. Just open the rainbow camera tab in the free Google Arts & Culture app for Android and iOS to get started and find out if your pet’s look-alikes are as fun as some of our favorite animal companions and their matches.

Check out my man Seamus:

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Mental Canvas enables 3D drawing

10 years ago we put a totally gratuitous (but fun!) 3D view of the layers stack into Photoshop Touch. You couldn’t actually edit in that mode, but people loved seeing their 2D layers with 3D parallax.

More recently apps are endeavoring to turn 2D photos into 3D canvases via depth analysis (see recent Adobe research), object segmentation, etc. That is, of course, an extension of what we had in mind when adding 3D to Photoshop back in 2007 (!)—but depth capture & extrapolation weren’t widely available, and it proved too difficult to shoehorn everything into the PS editing model.

Now Mental Canvas promises to enable some truly deep expressivity:

I do wonder how many people could put it to good use. (Drawing well is hard; drawing well in 3D…?) I Want To Believe… It’ll be cool to see where this goes.

Come try Photoshop Web!

I kinda can’t believe it, but the team has gotten the old gal (plus Illustrator) running right in Web browsers!

VP of design Eric Snowden writes,

Extending Illustrator and Photoshop to the web (beta) will help you share creative work from the Illustrator and Photoshop desktop and iPad apps for commenting. Your collaborators can open and view your work in the browser and provide feedback. You’ll also be able to make basic edits without having to download or launch the apps.

Creative Cloud Spaces (beta) are a shared place that brings content and context together, where everyone on your team can access and organize files, libraries, and links in a centralized location.

Creative Cloud Canvas (beta) is a new surface where you and your team can display and visualize creative work to review with collaborators and explore ideas together, all in real-time and in the browser.

From the FAQ:

Adobe extends Photoshop to the web for sharing, reviewing, and light editing of Photoshop cloud documents (.psdc). Collaborators can open and view your work in the browser, provide feedback, and make basic edits without downloading the app.

Photoshop on the web beta features are now available for testing and feedback. For help, please visit the Adobe Photoshop beta community.

So, what do you think?

AI: Cats n’ Cages

Things the internet loves:
Nicolas Cage
Cats
Mashups

Let’s do this:

Elsewhere, I told my son that I finally agree with his strong view that the live-action Lion King (which I haven’t seen) does look pretty effed up. 🙃

“How To Animate Your Head” in Character Animator

Let’s say you dig AR but want to, y’know, actually create instead of just painting by numbers (just yielding whatever some filter maker deigns to provide). In that case, my friend, you’ll want to check out this guidance from animator/designer/musician/Renaissance man Dave Werner.

0:00 Intro
1:27 Character Animator Setup
7:38 After Effects Motion Tracking
14:14 After Effects Color Matching
17:35 Outro (w/ surprise cameo)

1800s Astronomical Drawings vs. Modern NASA Images

The New York Public Library has shared some astronomical drawings by E.L. Trouvelot done in the 1870s, comparing them to contemporary NASA images. They write,

Trouvelot was a French immigrant to the US in the 1800s, and his job was to create sketches of astronomical observations at Harvard College’s observatory. Building off of this sketch work, Trouvelot decided to do large pastel drawings of “the celestial phenomena as they appear…through the great modern telescopes.”

[Via]

Little Photoshop of Horrors

Heh—my Adobe video eng teammate Eric Sanders passed along this fun poster (artist unknown):

It reminds me of a silly thing I made years ago when our then-little kids had a weird fixation on light fixtures. Oddly enough, this remains the one & presumably only piece of art I’ll ever get to show Matt Groening, as I got to meet him at dinner with Lynda Weinman back then. (Forgive the name drop; I have so few!)

“How to Draw Yourself as a Peanuts Character”

Right at the start of my career, I had the chance to draw some simple Peanuts animations for MetLife banner ads. The cool thing is that back then, Charles Schulz himself had to approve each use of his characters—and I’m happy to say he approved mine. 😌 (For the record, as I recall it feature Linus’s hair flying up as he was surprised.)

In any event, here’s a fun tutorial commissioned by Apple:

As Kottke notes, “They’ve even included a PDF of drawing references to make it easier.” Fortunately you don’t have to do the whole thing in 35 seconds, a la Schulz himself:

different faces drawn for Peanuts comic strip characters

[Via]

Charming “Viewfinder” animation

This is the super chill content I needed right now. 😌

Colossal writes,

Viewfinder” is a charming animation about exploring the outdoors from the Seoul-based studio VCRWORKS. The second episode in the recently launched Rhythmens series, the peaceful short follows a central character on a hike in a springtime forest and frames their whimsically rendered finds through the lens of a camera.

You can find another installment on their Vimeo page.

NVIDIA Canvas paints with AI, exports to Photoshop

“A nuclear-powered pencil”: that’s how someone recently described ArtBreeder, and the phrase comes to mind for NVIDIA Canvas, a new prototype app you can download (provided you have Windows & beefy GPU) and use to draw in some trippy new ways:

Paint simple shapes and lines with a palette of real world materials, like grass or clouds. Then, in real-time, our revolutionary AI model fills the screen with show-stopping results.

Don’t like what you see? Swap a material, changing snow to grass, and watch as the entire image changes from a winter wonderland to a tropical paradise. The creative possibilities are endless.

[Via]

Stop motion—via embroidery!

What an incredible labor of love this must have been to stitch & animate:

Our most ridiculously labor-intensive animation ever! The traditional Passover folk song rendered in embroidermation by Nina Paley and Theodore Gray. These very same embroidered matzoh covers are available for purchase here.

[Via Christa Mrgan]

Trippy Adobe brushes

As I noted last year,

I’ve always been part of that weird little slice of the Adobe user population that gets really hyped about offbeat painting tools—from stretching vectors along splines & spraying out fish in Illustrator (yes, they’re both in your copy right now; no, you’ve never used them).

In that vein, I dig what Erik Natzke & co. have explored:

This one’s even trippier:

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make your own brush via Adobe Capture:

And here are the multicolor brushes added to Adobe Fresco last year:

Illustrator & InDesign get big boosts on Apple Silicon

On an epic dog walk this morning, Old Man Nack™ took his son through the long & winding history of Intel vs. Motorola, x86 vs. PPC, CISC vs. RISC, toasted bunny suits, the shock of Apple’s move to Intel (Marklar!), and my lasting pride in delivering the Photoshop CS3 public beta to give Mac users native performance six months early.

As luck would have it, Adobe has some happy news to share about the latest hardware evolution:

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that Illustrator and InDesign will run natively on Apple Silicon devices. While users have been able to continue to use the tool on M1 Macs during this period, today’s development means a considerable boost in speed and performance. Overall, Illustrator users will see a 65 percent increase in performance on an M1 Mac, versus Intel builds — InDesign users will see similar gains, with a 59 percent improvement on overall performance on Apple Silicon. […]

These releases will start to roll out to customers starting today and will be available to all customers across the globe soon.

Check out the post for full details.

Automatic caricature creation gets better & better

A few weeks ago I mentioned Toonify, an online app that can render your picture in a variety of cartoon styles. Researchers are busily cranking away to improve upon it, and the new AgileGAN promises better results & the ability to train models via just a few inputs:

Our approach provides greater agility in creating high quality and high resolution (1024×1024) portrait stylization models, requiring only a limited number of style exemplars (∼100) and short training time (∼1 hour).

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BMW art cars go AI

Generative artist Nathan Shipley has been doing some amazing work with GANs, and he recently collaborated with BMW to use projection mapping to turn a new car into a dynamic work of art:

I’ve long admired the Art Cars series, with a particular soft spot for Jenny Holzer’s masterfully disconcerting PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT:

Here’s a great overview of the project’s decades of heritage, including a dive into how Andy Warhol adorned what may be the most valuable car in the world—painting on it at lightning speed:

AI art: GANimated flowers

Years ago my friend Matthew Richmond (Chopping Block founder, now at Adobe) would speak admiringly of “math-rock kids” who could tinker with code to expand the bounds of the creative world. That phrase came to mind seeing this lovely little exploration from Derrick Schultz:

Here it is in high res:

Body Movin’: Adobe Character Animator introduces body tracking (beta)

You’ll scream, you’ll cry, promises designer Dave Werner—and maybe not due just to “my questionable dance moves.”

Live-perform 2D character animation using your body. Powered by Adobe Sensei, Body Tracker automatically detects human body movement using a web cam and applies it to your character in real time to create animation. For example, you can track your arms, torso, and legs automatically. View the full release notes.

Check out the demo below & the site for full details.

Syncopated AI nightmare fuel

I’ve obviously been talking a ton about the crazy-powerful, sometimes eerie StyleGAN2 technology. Here’s a case of generative artist Mario Klingemann wiring visuals to characteristics of music:

Watch it at 1/4 speed if you really want to freak yourself out.

Beats-to-visuals gives me an excuse to dig up & reshare Michel Gondry’s brilliant old Chemical Brothers video that associated elements like bridges, posts, and train cars with the various instruments at play:

Back to Mario: he’s also been making weirdly bleak image descriptions using CLIP (the same model we’ve explored using to generate faces via text). I congratulated him on making a robot sound like Werner Herzog. 🙃

Artbreeder is wild

Artbreeder is a trippy project that lets you “simply keep selecting the most interesting image to discover totally new images. Infinitely new random ‘children’ are made from each image. Artbreeder turns the simple act of exploration into creativity.” Check out interactive remixing:

Here’s an overview of how it works:

Generative Adversarial Networks are the main technology enabling Artbreeder. Artbreeder uses BigGAN and StyleGAN models. There is a minimal open source version available that uses BigGAN.

Using AI to create Disney- & Pixar-style caricatures

I find this emerging space so fascinating. Check out how Toonify.photos (which you can use for free, or at high quality for a very modest fee) can turn one’s image into a cartoon character. It leverages training data based on iconic illustration styles:

I also chuckled at this illustration from the video above, as it endeavors to how two networks (the “adversaries” in “Generative Adversarial Network”) attempt, respectively, to fool the other with output & to avoid being fooled. Check out more details in the accompanying article.

Of 3D Pets & Molten Pups

The Epic team behind the hyper-realistic, Web-hosted MetaHuman Creator—which is now available for early access—rolled out the tongue-in-cheek “MetaPet Creator” for April Fool’s. Artist Jelena Jovanovic offers a peek behind the scenes.

Elsewhere I put my pal Seamus (who’s presently sawing logs on the couch next to me) through NVIDIA’s somewhat wacky GANimal prototype app, attempting to mutate him into various breeds—with semi-Brundlefly results. 👀

A Man, A Plan, A StyleGAN…

On Monday I mentioned my new team’s mind-blowing work to enable image synthesis through typing, and I noted that it builds on NVIDIA’s StyleGAN research. If you’re interested in the latter, check out this two-minute demo of how it enables amazing interactive generation of stylized imagery:

This new project called StyleGAN2, developed by NVIDIA Research, and presented at CVPR 2020, uses transfer learning to produce seemingly infinite numbers of portraits in an infinite variety of painting styles. The work builds on the team’s previously published StyleGAN project. Learn more here.

Adobe introduces the Design Mobile Bundle

It’s cool to see these mobile creativity apps Voltron-ing together via the new Adobe Design Mobile Bundle, which includes the company’s best design apps for the iPad at 50% off when purchased together. Per the site:

  • Photoshop: Edit, composite, and create beautiful images, graphics, and art.
  • Illustrator: Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.
  • Fresco: Draw and paint with thousands of natural brushes.
  • Spark Post: Make stunning social graphics — in seconds.
  • Creative Cloud: Mobile access to your Creative Cloud assets, livestreams, and learn content.

More good stuff is coming to Fresco soon, too:

Then, there are live oil brushes in Fresco that you just don’t get in any other app. In Fresco, today, you can replicate the look of natural media like oils, watercolors and charcoal — soon you’ll be able to add motion as well! We showed a sneak peek at the workshop, and it blew people’s minds.

Animation: “Mecha”

Apropos of nothing, check out 60 lovingly rendered seconds commissioned by YouTube:

Maciej Kuciara writes,

MECHA – the love letter to our youth. Watching anime classics as kids left a mark that stayed with us to this day. So we felt it’s due to time to celebrate our love to mecha and pay proper homage with this piece we did for YouTube.

Make fantastical creatures via Google’s “Chimera Painter”

What happens if you train an ML model from hundreds of thousands of 2D renders of 3D creature models? Glad you asked!

Today, we present Chimera Painter, a trained machine learning (ML) model that automatically creates a fully fleshed out rendering from a user-supplied creature outline. Employed as a demo application, Chimera Painter adds features and textures to a creature outline segmented with body part labels, such as “wings” or “claws”, when the user clicks the “transform” button.