Between Snapchat’s photo and video filters and Alexa, everyone’s favorite personal assistant, we live in a remarkable time of recognition technology. Well, the web’s new favorite iteration of recognition technology this time comes in an odd portrait generator: Pix2Pix.
The gist of the tool is that you create a line drawing, hit process, and then an autofill portrait in the Dutch Golden Age-style is generated using a catalog of uploaded images. As you can see in the preview image when you first open the site, the tool probably works very well if you are a good computer artist. However, when you aren’t as skilled, the images start to get pretty terrifying.
According to the Tumblr blog Prosthetic Knowledge, the tool was set up by Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO, as part of a story reporting on the neural network image translation system Pix2Pix. Journalists at the station uploaded images of Lara Rense, a reporter at the station, to create the tool. You can read more about the process on ProstheticKnowledge's Tumblr, here.
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There are other Pix2Pix iterations as well. Among others, there is “edges2cats,” which turns a line drawing of a cat into a cat-like generated object using thousands of stock cat photos, and “edges2shoes,” which does the same thing but for shoes.
As an artistically adept staff ourselves, we decided to take the tool for a spin. Here, our creations and thoughts on the bizarre tool:
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went on the website and was surprised at how bare bones it was: literally just two tools, a line, and an eraser. Honestly, I had no idea what was going to come out. When I finished, I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the final product…definitely one of the more terrifying parts of the internet.” —Savannah James, fashion assistant
“I didn’t know what to expect. I used to think of myself as a realist in art, but now I’m opened up to my more abstract side.” —Nora Horvath, editorial assistant
“I can’t draw so this was weirdly satisfying. Hooray for them achieving the impossible and making my art even more nightmarish than it already is!” —Wendy Granger, photo editor
“It took me a few tries to figure out how this thing worked—I thought you just sketched the person’s face (but that was no fun.) But, after I figured it out, it’s pretty hilarious.” —Alexandra Schonfeld, digital editorial intern
“It's hard to draw with a mouse and I wish we had a choice of photos, but it was a fun way to kill time.” —Antigoni Gouras, Producer