Picsart's AI-powered SketchAI app turns images and outlines into digital art TechCrunch

Picsart’s AI-powered SketchAI app turns images and outlines into digital art TechCrunch

Riding the wave of generative AI, Picsart, the developer behind various photo and video editing apps for the web and mobile devices, presents a new iOS app that turns photos and drawings into digital art. Called SketchAI, the app allows users to draw an image or upload an existing image and apply different artistic styles to it.

SketchAI is quite easy to use. It offers several pre-selected styles that can be applied to designs, including ink drawing, pencil sketch, and artist-inspired “Da Vinci” and “Van Gogh.” In addition to drawing or uploading a photo, users can add a prompt describing an image (e.g. “Night boat pointing by Aivazovsky”) to improve generated results.

SketchAI offers five free creations. Unlocking unlimited generations requires a subscription ranging from $5.99 per week to $17.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

“We are planning a lot to improve the user experience, image processing and quality, and add more prompts and art styles,” Picsart VP of Product Lusine Harutyunyan told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We are also thinking of adding features that allow the user to enhance and play with their results, as Picsart is known for its powerful and fun editing tools. In addition to building on our core platform, we’re excited to offer more unique entry points for creative technologies like this. »

SketchAI joins Picsart’s roster of generative AI tools, including AI Avatar, which creates custom AI-generated profile photos from selfies, and comes as art-generating AI apps spark controversy from both users and the art community. Lensa’s recently launched viral avatar creator has come under intense scrutiny for its biases towards the sexualized portrayal of women. Meanwhile, on art portal ArtStation, which earlier this year began allowing AI art for the first time, members have widely protested by placing “No AI Art” images in their portfolios. – claiming that AI-generated art threatens the artistic integrity of the platform.

Picture credits: picsart

Harutyunyan didn’t deny that generative AI systems have their issues, even admitting that the system driving SketchAI — an open-source model called Stable Diffusion — could reproduce biases in the artwork it creates. But he argued that SketchAI and generative AI as a whole will evolve and improve over time as more people use the technology and additional models become available.

“These are the very early days of generative AI as a whole and this technology will continue to evolve rapidly and we will continue to adhere to industry standards and best practices as it is. Our goal is to empower creators and we support artists around the world,” said Harutyunyan.

Stable Diffusion, which is formed on images from across the web, including art communities, has spread like wildfire in recent months. Lensa and DeviantArt use it to generate images, as does game developer Latitude and countless others. Most use cases are harmless enough. But some groups have used Stable Diffusion to create objectionable content like depictions of violence and pornographic, non-consensual deepfakes of celebrities.

Stability AI was even the subject of a recent critical letter from U.S. House Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) to the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Office of Science Policy and technology, in which she urged the NSA and OSTP to crack down on the release of “dangerous AI models” that “do not moderate content created on their platforms.”

Harutyunyan says Picsart has refined and optimized Stable Diffusion for “quality, strength of the original image” in SketchAI and has filters in place to prevent the generation of “dangerous” art. Picsart has not, however, established a way for artists who do not want SketchAI users to create art in their distinctive styles to “opt out”. In recent months, artists like Hollie Mengert and Greg Rutkowski — whose names have become some of the most commonly used prompts in Stable Diffusion-powered apps — have denounced what they see as poor AI impersonations that are nevertheless related to their work.

Picsart SketchAI

Picture credits: picsart

Stability AI, the startup largely funding the development of Stable Diffusion, recently bowed to pressure, signaling that it would allow artists to opt out of the dataset used to train the next-generation Stable Diffusion model. Harutyunyan says Picsart will consider adopting the model for SketchAI once it’s released.

“The base model we use is trained on data, not specific material and does not replicate the work of any specific artist,” Harutyunyan said.

A word of warning for those who share their SketchAI creations publicly: Picsart says it cannot guarantee that users will be able to claim copyright over them. This is because the copyright status of AI-generated artwork is somewhat in flux at present. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently decided to revoke copyright protection for an AI-generated comic book, saying copyrightable works require human fatherhood. And an ongoing class action lawsuit in the US court system alleges that generative AI violates intellectual property laws by regurgitating portions of the copyrighted data used to develop it.

The copyright issue has spooked platforms like Kickstarter and Getty Images, both of which have in recent months – partially or fully – banned art and the AI-generated tools to create it for fear of the ramifications. legal.

“As between Picsart and the user, the user owns the rights to the content,” Harutyunyan said. “However, users should be aware of the inherent limitations of generative AI.”

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