Monday, April 4, 2016

In a Noodle Shop

Before you scroll down any farther, what does the style of this sketch remind you of? Can you think of any other art genre that the shapes and colors evoke?


About the sketch itself, this guy was looking out the window of a noodle shop, and I had about five minutes to paint him. 

To get the soft edge around his "love handle" area, I painted the gouache wet into wet. The white edge lighting is made up mostly of the white of the paper. I used Venetian red for the background color because the walls were painted that color.

Out of curiosity, I put my sketch into Google's "visually similar" image search, and I was surprised by the results. 

What it served up was a whole bunch of World War II posters from several countries, including the USA, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and Soviet Russia. There's also a Saturday Evening Post cover and a Western movie poster thrown in.  

These results are narrowly focused on a particular period of illustration with a particular purpose, that of arousing the energy of the people to work and fight.

What does that tell us about the style of my sketch? Did any of you think of propaganda art from the 1940s? Poster art from WW II is not a big study of mine, and certainly wasn't in my conscious mind when I was doing the sketch. 

I also wonder what this tells us about the visual intelligence behind Google's image search algorithm? It seems to be based purely on abstract colors and shapes, and it pays no heed to subject matter, other than the fact that it was a figure in a setting.
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You can try putting your own art into Google's "visually similar" image search and see what you come up with. 



11 comments:

Tom Hart said...

Honestly, I was no where near what the search engine came up with. I struggled to connect the shape and colors with any genre, and in a stretch came up with a certain loose, painterly style that I've seen in some comics.

Paul Sullivan said...

James—
It's a nice sketch. I'm sure the artist in you doesn't really care what anyone thinks. Who cares what Google thinks.

Actually I feel a bit of future shock in all this.

gyrusdentus said...

I thought of Frank Miller´s comic "sin city" done in color. Your sketch is a bit more elaborated than his work but the big shapes and clear contrasts made me think of it.

Nice work, as always :).

A Colonel of Truth said...

Red --> whatever hue is attention-getting and evokes action; rage; danger; emergency; injury; etc., and, sometimes in contrast, passion and love. Is the range of emotions triggered by red instinct, learned (culturally), or a complement - based on context? As artists from sundry countries/cultures exploit red similarily, there's sound argument for an ingrained human reaction. I forget the (famous) artist but decades ago I read his advice to find a way to include some form of red into every painting - it excites the human psyche. Indeed. Nice sketch, James! Fresh. And interestinglyemits calm (somewhat).

Gary said...

While stationed in Germany in the 1970's, at least one of the tabloids used two color printing: red and black. It was nicknamed the "Blut Zeitung" = blood newspaper. A couple years ago I saw a display of patriotic posters from the Nazi era which were again printed in Red and Black. I wondered about the connection then, When you prompted us about a possible linkage, I thought of the German tabloid and the posters.

Rich said...

My very first "evocation" was an overdose of Ketchup.

Perhaps due to Andy Warhol

Krystal said...

Surprising !
I must lack of imagination because I first thought of a steakhouse...
Red is seldom used for walls in restaurants (at least, the one I know around me) exept for steakhouses, where it is directly evocating the meat, I guess...
I hadn't think at all of what google came out with...

Beside, I tried with one of my painting and was also surprise by the result : amongst a bunch of pictures, 90% were other paintings from me. So I guess something common is tracable by A.I... Interesting !

krystal said...

From a machine learning point of view, it makes sense. It would probably be comparing it to a large enough sample size of similar images; if there is a plethora of such WW2 images, it would make sense that it would find a connection based on that (as opposed to if say, only one such value existed).
Also, it makes sense that it would look for pixels or colour information rather than facial recognition (which is wayyyy more complex) using DNN (Deep neural networks). I attended a Google lecture last week on machine learning algorithms used (including Smart@$$, which is used for Ads), and I remember I had done an AI course where they said they were able to interpret language or meaning from similarities. For example, if there was a menu with the words "chicken" next to several Chinese characters, the DNN algorithm could 'figure out' what the character for Chinese is. Cool stuff.

Jaratzed said...

When I did my work on computer via photoshop and adobe illustrator. I got some mean attitudes from other students and they complained to art teacher why my works are like movie posters. I never thought of movie posters. Some of artworks are like poster too. I just think of how I should see and understand. I was hurt a lot in college for that by students.

Tryggvi Edwald said...

Yes, since you asked, I stopped and thought "Japanese propaganda posters" before proceeding.
Probably the red strokes around his head reminded me of large Kanji characters written loosely in large formats, as often is done on propaganda posters.

Trevor Worsley said...

Superficially, I'd say Google looked at colour patterns and dragged up similar looking images.
While I can see similarities on this basis, an image carries much more weight than what it can communicate through colour gamuts.
Style, shapes, framing and other things are used to convey message.
Just my thoughts.