Category Archives: Illustration

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.

Animation: Cutout LeBron flies in the real world

Artist Rudy Willingham has developed a clever, laborious way of turning video frames into physical cutouts & then overlaying them on interesting backgrounds. Check it out:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rudy Willingham (@rudy_willingham)

I think I like this set even more:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Rudy Willingham (@rudy_willingham)

[Via]

Photoshop’s new Smart Portrait is pretty amazing

My longstanding dream (dating back to the Bush Administration!) to have face relighting in Photoshop has finally come true—and then some. In case you missed it last week, check out Conan O’Brien meeting machine learning via Photoshop:

On PetaPixel, Allen Murabayashi from PhotoShelter shows what it can do on a portrait of Joe Biden—presenting this power as a potential cautionary tale:

Here’s a more in-depth look (starting around 1:46) at controlling the feature, courtesy of NVIDIA, whose StyleGAN tech powers the feature:

I love the fact that the Neural Filters plug-in provides a playground within Photoshop for integrating experimental new tech. Who knows what else might spring from Adobe-NVIDIA collaboration—maybe scribbling to create a realistic landscape, or even swapping expressions among pets (!?):

Eye-popping portraits emerge as paint cascades down the human face

Man, these are stunning—and they’re all done in camera:

First coated in black, the anonymous subjects in Tim Tadder’s portraits are cloaked with hypnotic swirls and thick drips of bright paint. To create the mesmerizing images, the Encinitas, California-based photographer and artist pours a mix of colors over his sitters and snaps a precisely-timed shot to capture each drop as it runs down their necks or splashes from their chins.

You can find more of the artist’s work on Behance and Instagram.

Put the “AR” in “art” via Google Arts & Culture

I’m excited to see the tech my team has built into YouTube, Duo, and other apps land in Arts & Culture, powering five new fun experiences:

Snap a video or image of yourself to become Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, or the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring. You can also step deep into history with a traditional Samurai helmet or a remarkable Ancient Egyptian necklace.

To get started, open the free Google Arts & Culture app for Android or iOS and tap the rainbow camera icon at the bottom of the homepage.