Monthly Archives: May 2024

Photography: Chasing Shreveport Steam

(And no, I’m not just talking oppressive humidity—though after living in California so long, that was quite a handful.) My 14yo MiniMe Henry & I had a ball over the weekend on our first trip to Louisiana, chasing the Empress steam engine as it made its way from Canada down to Mexico City. I’ll try to share a proper photo album soon, but in the meantime here are some great shots from Henry (enhanced with the now-indispensible Generative Fill), plus a bit of fun drone footage:

Microsoft Paint (Paint!) does generative AI

Who’d a thunk it? But now everyone is getting into the game:

“Combine your ink strokes with text prompts to generate new images in nearly real time with Cocreator,” Microsoft explains. “As you iterate, so does the artwork, helping you more easily refine, edit and evolve your ideas. Powerful diffusion-based algorithms optimize for the highest quality output over minimum steps to make it feel like you are creating alongside AI.”

Fei-Fei Li & the next leap in perceiving reality

I really enjoyed this TED talk from Fei-Fei Li on spatial computing & the possible dawning of a Cambrian explosion on how we—and our creations—perceive the world.

In the beginning of the universe, all was darkness — until the first organisms developed sight, which ushered in an explosion of life, learning and progress. AI pioneer Fei-Fei Li says a similar moment is about to happen for computers and robots. She shows how machines are gaining “spatial intelligence” — the ability to process visual data, make predictions and act upon those predictions — and shares how this could enable AI to interact with humans in the real world.

GenFill comes to Lightroom!

When I surveyed thousands of Photoshop customers waaaaaay back in the Before Times—y’know, summer 2022—I was struck by the fact that beyond wanting to insert things into images, and far beyond wanting to create images from scratch, just about everyone wanted better ways to remove things.

Happily, that capability has now come to Lightroom. It’s a deceptively simple change that, I believe, required a lot of work to evolve Lr’s non-destructive editing pipeline. Traditionally all edits were expressed as simple parameters, and then masks got added—but as far as I know, this is the first time Lr has ventured into transforming pixels in an additive way (that is, modify one bunch, then make subsequent edits that depend on the previous edits). That’s a big deal, and a big step forward for the team.

A few more examples courtesy of Howard Pinsky:

Podcast: Shantanu on The Verge

Adobe’s CEO (duh :-)) sat down with Nilay Patel for an in-depth interview. Here are some of the key points, as summarized by ChatGPT:


  1. AI as a Paradigm Shift: Narayen views AI as a fundamental shift, similar to the transitions to mobile and cloud technologies. He emphasizes that AI, especially generative AI, can automate tasks, enhance creative processes, and democratize access to creative tools. This allows users who might not have traditional artistic skills to create compelling content​ (GIGAZINE)​​ (Stanford Graduate School of Business)​.
  2. Generative AI in Adobe Products: Adobe’s Firefly, a family of generative AI models, has been integrated into various Adobe products. Firefly enhances creative workflows by enabling users to generate images, text effects, and video content with simple text prompts. This integration aims to accelerate ideation, exploration, and production, making it easier for creators to bring their visions to life​ (Adobe News)​​ (Welcome to the Adobe Blog)​.
  3. Empowering Creativity: Narayen highlights that Adobe’s approach to AI is centered around augmenting human creativity rather than replacing it. Tools like Generative Fill in Photoshop and new generative AI features in Premiere Pro are designed to streamline tedious tasks, allowing creators to focus on the more creative aspects of their work. This not only improves productivity but also expands creative possibilities​ (The Print)​​ (Adobe News)​.
  4. Business Model and Innovation: Narayen discusses how Adobe is adapting its business model to leverage AI. By integrating AI across Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, and Experience Cloud, Adobe aims to enhance its products and deliver more value to users. This includes experimenting with new business models and monetizing AI-driven features to stay at the forefront of digital creativity​ (Stanford Graduate School of Business)​​ (The Print)​.
  5. Content Authenticity and Ethics: Adobe emphasizes transparency and ethical use of AI. Initiatives like Content Credentials help ensure that AI-generated content is properly attributed and distinguishable from human-created content. This approach aims to maintain trust and authenticity in digital media​ (Adobe News)​​ (Welcome to the Adobe Blog)​.

Google’s CAT3D makes eye-popping worlds

I still can’t believe I was allowed in the building with these giant throbbing brains. 🙂

This kind of evolution should make a lot of people rethink what it means to be an image editor going forward—or even an image.

Conversational search is coming to Google Photos

I’ve gotta say, this one touches a kinda painful nerve with me.

10 years ago I walked into the Google Photos team expecting normal humans to do things like say, “Show me the best pictures of my grandkids.” I immediately felt like a fool: something like 97% of daily users don’t search, preferring to simply launch the app and scroll scroll scroll forever.

A decade later, the Photos team is talking about using large language models to enable uses like the following:

With Ask Photos, you can ask for what you’re looking for in a natural way, like: “Show me the best photo from each national park I’ve visited.” Google Photos can show you what you need, saving you from all that scrolling.

For example, you can ask: “What themes have we had for Lena’s birthday parties?”. Ask Photos will understand details, like what decorations are in the background or on the birthday cake, to give you the answer.

Will anyone actually do this? It’s really hard for me to imagine, at least as it’s been framed above.

Now, what I can imagine working—in pretty great ways—is a real Assistant experience that suggests a bunch of useful tasks with which it can assist, such as gathering up photos to make birthday or holiday cards. (The latter task always falls to me every year, and I wish I could more confidently do it better.) Assistant could easily ask whose birthday it is & on what date, then scan one’s library and suggest a nice range of images as well as presentation options (cards, short animations, etc.). That kind of agent could be a joy to interact with.

Conversational editing & ControlNet arrive in Photoshop (via plugin)

Never doubt the power of a motivated person or two to do what needs to be done. Stick around to the last section of this short vid to see Stable Diffusion-powered “Find & Replace” (maskless inpainting powered by prompts) in action:

Some eye-popping AI/3D demos

Martin Evening combines Adobe Substance 3D modeler and Krea to go from 3D sketch to burning rubber:

Jon Finger combines a whole slew of tools for sketch->AR:

Throwback: “Packed with vectors, Physics Pak really satisfies”

I came across this post (originally from 2017) just now while looking for other work from Paul Asente. Here’s hoping it can finally see the light of day in Illustrator! —J.


Paul Asente is an OG of the graphics world, having been responsible for (if I recall correctly) everything from Illustrator’s vector meshes & art brushes to variable-width strokes. Now he’s back with new Adobe illustration tech to drop some millefleurs science:

PhysicsPak automatically fills a shape with copies of elements, growing, stretching, and distorting them to fill the space. It uses a physics simulation to do this and to control the amount of distortion.



Krea video arrives

Unlike Runway, Pika, Sora, and other generative video models, this approach from Krea (well-known for their realtime, multimodal AI composition tools) is simply keyframing states of image generation—which is a pretty powerful approach unto itself.

Here’s a lovely uses of it in action:

Drawing-based magic with Firefly & Magnific

Man, who knew that posting the tweet below would get me absolutely dragged by AI haters (“Worst. Dad. Ever.”) who briefly turned me into the Bean Dad of AI art? I should say more about that eye-opening experience, but for now, enjoy (unlike apparently thousands of others!) this innocuous mixing of AI & kid art:

Elsewhere, here’s a cool thread showing how even simple sketches can be interpreted in the style of 3D renderings via Magnific:

AI mashups of Star Wars x classic art

Check out Min Choi’s crossbreeding of Star Wars characters with iconic paintings (click tweet below to see the thread):

Here’s a look at his process (also a thread):

Finger-lickin’ body horror!

KFC is making a characteristic AI bug into a feature:

KFC celebrates the launch of their most finger-lickin’ product yet, with even more extrAI fingers.

With help from Meta’s new AI experience, KFC is encouraging people to use the new feature and generate images with more than five fingers. This AI idea builds on KFC’s new Saucy Nuggets campaign promoting their new saucy nuggets. To reward their participation, users will unlock a saucy nuggets coupon on the restaurant’s app.

Clever, though I’m reminded of Wint’s remark that “you do not, under any circumstances, ‘gotta hand it to them.'”

Tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow…

I told filmmaker Paul Trillo that I’ve apparently blogged his work here more than a dozen times over the past 10 years—long before AI generation became a thing. That’s because he’s always been eager to explore the boundaries of what’s possible with any given set of tools. In “Notes To My Future Self,” he combines new & traditional methods to make a haunting, melancholy meditation:

And here he provides an illuminating 1-minute peek into the processes that helped him create all this in just over a week’s time: