AI art: Darth Vader, Superman, Jesus Christ

I used an AI interface to generate pictures of well-known characters and the results are interestingly odd…

AI-generated visual of Darth Vader (image by Author)

Welcome to the wondrous realm of AI-generated art! After reading the below article by a fellow Medium contributor, I decided to try it out.

The whole project can be accessed on Google Colab (link here), there is a video tutorial and all is set to guide you step by step to generate your own AI art.

Instead of using fictitious phrases that evoke dreamy images and landscapes, such as “unicorn landscape” or “fantasy world”, as input, I went down the globalised Western general culture route and wanted to see how the AI sees a few well-known and very specific characters: Darth Vader, Superman and… Jesus Christ.

The neural network selected to perform the work was VQGAN imagenet_16384 as it is ticked per default and said to yield the most interesting results.

First attempt: “DARTH VADER”

As you launch the cell in the Google Colab notebook, you have the immediate satisfaction of seeing iterations being generated, one after the other, each one more refined than the previous one. From a primordial pinkish noisy background emerged a black triangle that transformed into a kaleidoscopic figure adorning the common traits that define Darth Vader: black shiny textures shaped to resemble an outfit with a cape and helmet outlining this human-like figure, red glowing lines evoking his lightsabre and geometric patterns that remind us of his high-tech chest interface and the interior of Star destroyers and Death Stars. All of it glowing, wrapped in what looks like an electric energy web that is just a thought away from the electricity bursts of the dark side of the Force the Emperor lashes out in one of the most powerful and important scenes that defines Vader’s character. Truth be told, I was really blown away — I didn’t expect much from this AI art generator and was proven wrong.

Primordial neural network soup (image by Author)
Darth Vader rising from the AI’s neural network (image by Author)
Darth Vader taking shape (image by Author)

From a primordial pinkish noisy background emerged a black triangle that transformed into a kaleidoscopic figure adorning the common traits that define Darth Vader.

“Darth Vader” final output, 200 iterations (image by Author)

One of the great features of the Google Colab notebook is that it allows you to compile the generated iterations and save it as a video:

Second attempt: “SUPERMAN”

My second request to the AI was to generate (its vision of) Superman. While the basic graphical elements were present, the final output is not as clear as the Darth Vader one — it is hard to see a human-like figure in the amas of coloured pixels although the defining colours of Superman’s outfit are well present and distinct, and there is something really odd going on with all the ‘folds’.

“Superman” final output, 200 iterations (image by Author)

Third attempt: “JESUS CHRIST”

I used the same parameters as the two previous ones and only replaced the text input by “Jesus Christ”. The outcome is quite interesting as it presents several similar small figures surrounded by what could look like distorted unintelligible writing, giving the overall impression of an attempted visual narrative with the same character at its core. It is hard not to think of a lying cross when spotting the brownish L-shaped aggregate of pixels in the bottom left of the image, but yes, I agree, it is far-fetched as I doubt anyone presented with this image would say “Oh, yes of course, it’s the story of Jesus!” Also, what are all these green and yellow accents about?!

Final thoughts

I ran the generator a few times and each time it yielded different results, some resembling quite well the textual input, while some others needed (a lot) more imagination to make sense and distinguish the initial prompt amidst all the graphical noise. It is not consistent, but that’s what makes it interesting — it is definitely a good place to look for inspiration and using it not as an end but as a creative tool if you’re into artistic creation, as it can yield new perspectives, even on commonplace subjects.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned as I will be diving into more AI-generated art soon!

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Jelena

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Jelena Ristic

Jelena Ristic

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Creative t(h)inker, former museum curator, and python enthusiast delving into the wondrous realm of digital humanities. Reach me at hello@jelenaristic.info