The problems of relying on AI art
AI leads towards visual convergence when trained on generic material not unique to different cultures or styles, always going to come up with the go-to visual and nothing unique unless instructed by a human. Will continue to allow the current visual paradigm to dominate. Sometimes the archetypical rendering is fine, the unique elements are somewhere else, but relying only on that will not create new visions of the future for sci-fi renderings.
The computer is limited by the input it receives, and cannot make estimations outside of 1) what it is given 2) what the scientist-academic nudges it to do 3) the scope of the project…
It cannot adequately have the dataset to make everything, because it’s limited to who can give it that data and how that data is acquired. So much of what artists are inspired by come from non-digital, non-archived sources: stories from our ancestors, inherited cultural modes, language (which affects our metaphors and perceptions of time and philosophies), animals wandering around, sensory experiences, memes, etc…
Basically, what I am saying is that just like humans, the AI is limited by its inability to access information it doesn’t have.
— Reimena Yee, The Rise of the Bots; The Ascension of the Human
Will good enough win when it comes to art? If it’s between free and paid, the free version may be good enough for a lot of commercial uses…
Is convergence enough to stop “good enough”?
In other creative fields, art is already converging to homogeneous looks and sounds:
To minimize risk, movie studios are sticking with tried and true IP, and simply adding onto or remaking existing works.
Will illustration and the visual arts follow the same trend? For some commercial art needs, the purpose is to fit a tight-fit visual niche — think romance book covers, or organic food packaging, where the goal is to communicate quickly what category of product it is.
But, some art — like magazine covers — does need to stand out. Distinctiveness is part of the goal. This is where creative work can persist despite “good enough” in other areas.
Will AI-created artwork achieve its goals?
Example: cover illustration
The art on these covers is pretty enough but the type is bad:
If you just need a placeholder cover these seem fine, but I’m curious whether these are enticing enough to sell books. Probably something you could use for a lead magnet, something you’re not selling but just want to have a cover in the Kindle library.
Some fine vibe-setting panels for a comic, but not super useful for storytelling, the panels are too similar, and how good will it be at action? I can’t imagine it will naturally generate unique poses and dynamic angles to keep scenes visually interesting. Just a few pages of this feels slow-paced.
If this is the only kind of art it can produce, it will only be useful for indie literary type comics. I think what’s going on is that grand vistas look impressive and are hard to draw, but the AI’s problems are also more apparent at closer scales, where it adds weird distortions or things don’t align we’ll. Our brains can ignore or fix the problems in a vista, but they’re impossible to ignore when they’re the focal point.
I would guess, like Ursula Vernon, AI will be a tool to reduce workload for artists needing to draw complex environment panels, and an asset library for rendering environments. In current state Vernon found it needed a lot of post processing.
This art style looks beautiful now, kinda Monstress – esque / movie concept art, but I suspect that the more people use it, the more generic it will feel and people will value art that’s clearly created by a human / has its own visual style.
Implications for the industry
This tech could push down editorial illustration prices so only newbies who live on starvation wages will be able to compete with AI, plus high end artists who can retain boutique clients that value uniqueness and want to signal that they are a luxury publication / brand, so the middle career folks will disappear. Or, will only high end creators with distinctive appeal be able to keep working and all junior creatives fade out?
If you’re a creator, you either have a style or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re simply a gig worker. And if you have a style, there’s a computer program that’s going to not only encourage people to copy your style, but expand it.
For some, this is going to lead to enormous opportunities in speed, creativity and possibility. For others, it’s a significant threat.
— Seth Godin, Unprepared as Always
Not yet, but…
I’d say AI is not good enough *yet* for most use cases, but it will get better over time. In the long run there will be less work for creatives actually producing their own renderings (linework, painting, photoshoots) and more the art direction angle of knowing what prompts to give the AI to get what you want, plus correction of obvious rendering errors.
At the low end of the scale, a broader range of fields will be impacted (logo design, basic graphic design) — will enough small scale jobs be accessible to early career folks that the industry won’t collapse in 20 years, because no one was able to get the experience?