As an artist who loves to draw illustrations of cats of all kinds, I have to admit that I’ve been pretty nervous about the advances that have been made in the world of Artificial Intelligence and its ability to generate art.
I’ve seen some videos on youtube showing people using AI to create all kinds of incredible art in seconds with just a few prompts. As someone interested in technology and art, I find this both really exciting. But, as an artist, it kind of makes me wonder what the future holds, given that most of my artwork takes hours, days or even weeks to create.
So, mostly out of curiosity, I decided to do a very unofficial test of how well AI does with cat art. It’s unofficial because I only used one of the many, many AI-art generators out there. And, in addition, I wanted to try one that was free and easy to sign up for versus a paid version, so the quality of the one I tried is more of an example than it is a representation of what all AI art creators can do.
After a google search of AI art generators, I decided to use https://www.heyfriday.ai. It was quick to sign up for — I simply clicked the option to sign on using my Facebook account and, yes, free to use.
My first prompt (a description you can type in to tell the generator what it is you’re looking to create) was “cozy cat in living room in front of fireplace.” I wanted to see if AI could fairly easily create a cozy image and I was also curious to see what kind of living room would be created.
Different styles of art, such as Cyberpunk and Watercolor, were available, but I just chose the “auto” style to start out with. AI quickly got to work and, seconds later, this is what I got:
As you can see, there’s definitely a fireplace in the picture. But, there doesn’t appear to be a cat.
I decided to adjust the prompt and try again. This time around, I tried: “cat in front of fireplace,” but still stuck with the auto style setting.
This second attempt was better in that it did include both a cat and a fireplace, but the cat was a little more abstract than I was hoping for (although the artist side of me was relieved that this one-eyed; fur-less, front legged kitty was a bit lacking in detail).
I tried again with a similar prompt, and his is what I got next:
This one was still a bit abstract. A few more facial features could have really brought it to life though and the fire looks nice and bright and warm.
I next adjusted the prompt to “kitten in front of fireplace,” thinking maybe the generator would do a little better with the whole “cozy” image I was looking for when the more specific word “kitten” was used.
This time around, there was a lot more detail in the face and the fur was actually quite well done. Conversely, the background in this one wasn’t all that clear though.
I could probably have played with this for a lot longer using different prompt words and styles, but I decided to limit it to just one more try for now. I keyed in “cute, fluffy kitten in front of fireplace,” hit “Generate” and, viola!
I got this:
I maybe should have specified that there should have been a fire in the fireplace, so that part of the image was lacking. Also, as you can see, kitty’s legs are oddly proportioned. And what is kitty sitting on? It looks like a cushion with wheels. But, this was the cutest cat yet and also the most realistic. And, in spite of the wonky limbs, this kitten grows on me the more I look at it.
I agree with those who have tried AI and find that it can be really good for creating images that an artist can use for ideas when looking to create a specific scene. It would be fun to use all of these as starting points for actual art that I create. But, I also feel like it’s not going to be very long before the generated images start to get better and more realistic, needing little or no revision. Or, in other words, AI is fun to play with and a great tool with a lot of potential and something to keep an eye on. But, for now, capturing the essence of our beloved furry friends takes what artists have always offered — hard work, practice, an eye for detail, and a love of creating.