Selfie apps, specifically those that change the way you look, seem to skyrocket in popularity every year. If it is not a bunch of creative filters on Snapchat, it is some kind of downloadable app with questionable data policies. This time you can turn yourself into a renaissance painting through a website featuring a very smart artificial intelligence called Al Gahaku.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence go hand-in-hand nowadays. What is impressive, however, is when a single engineer seems to have developed the next big thing in portraiture: a virtual renaissance painter! Twitter user and Japanese engineer @Sato_Neet toyed with the idea of portrait changing software. She subsequently created the Pixel-Me.Tokyo website, which has garnered quite a hefty amount of visitors over time. However, as great as it is to turn yourself into a pixelated monster, it is totally beat by turning yourself into a renaissance painting.
Not too long ago, Sato Neet linked to a brand-new website she created called Ai-Art.Tokyo. The site houses her very own artificial intelligence painter called Al Gahaku. Fundamentally, Al Gahaku is no different to other apps you can find on various mobile device platforms. Where it differs from all the others, however, is how it uses artificial intelligence versus simply slapping an oil painting filter on your portrait and calling it a day. Rather, Al Gahaku studies your facial features and then goes through an extensive process where it has to confirm whether the painting has any biases, remove those, and eventually present you with a few options to choose from. Spoiler alert: the first picture is always the best! In case you can not tell, it perfectly captures my general mood.
Naturally, hosting a super-smart AI like Al Gahaku is not without its challenges. Due to a huge upsurge in popularity, creator Sato Neet has seen a massive uptick in server costs. As such, she has created a Patreon specifically for the improvement of Al Gahaku. While using the AI painter is completely free, supporting the cause can only result in more accurate and much better results for your portraits. Regardless, playing around with Al Gahaku’s paintings are actually a lot of fun and worth a look-see for yourself – even if it means submitting your friends’ photos just to see what they would look like [Edward did exactly this, without my consent – Hans].
I must mention that the software is still in active development, hence the call for Patreon above. Since it is not final, there are a few niggles and bugs that sometimes make it through to the end-user. These include not always recognising faces – especially faces that are turned more than 45-degrees; not being able to work on more than one face at a time, and not exactly always getting those eyes right… which is hilarious.
I obviously gave Al Gahaku a whirl… and I think the results are great! I now leave you, dear readers, with the most beautiful renaissance painting Al Gahaku threw at me the moment I submitted the picture: Hans Haupt, circa 1991. Painted by Al Gahaku in 2020. Now excuse me while I go submit both of our portraits to the Smithsonian.