Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The End of Landscape Painting?

Computer specialists have developed software that turns simple outline drawings into photo-real images.

Segmentation map (left) and computer rendering (right) by Gaugan
NVIDIA, which developed the technique, says that "the tool is like a smart paintbrush, converting segmentation maps into lifelike images."

(Link to YouTube) This video shows the GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) software in action as someone draws shapes for sky, water, and trees, and the computer fills them in with textures.

Seeing this video, an artist friend of mine asked "Is this the end of landscape painting?"

I don't think so. There are more people painting traditional landscapes than ever. 

These computer tools may threaten certain jobs, such as those who create textures for game environments. But they'll open up other jobs and creative opportunities.

But my friend's question raises a point. Image makers who rely exclusively on these tools may find that they erode the foundation of knowledge and experience that they need to create convincing landscapes.

With technology like this, the only thing the human has to deliver is the segmentation map, and the machine-learning algorithm does the rest. The technology changes our role from artist into art director. Judging from the video, they're indecisive art directors at that.

It may not bring about the end of landscape painting—because there will always be those of us who use physical paint, but it opens up new possibilities for the computer graphics field.
Previously: Morphing Celebrities


Tryggvi Edwald said...

... to say nothing of those who enjoy painting, and do landscapes for the pure pleasure.
Generating the images via a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) isn't going to provide
much relaxation and enjoyment for me in the same way as painting does.

Patricia Wafer said...

It just seems to be a sort of computer generated collage. With MUCH more limitations than if you actually did collage with your own collected images instead of being limited to their sources. If one wants to do collage it is a heck of a lot more fun to cut and paste and alter and paint, etc in reality than pick generic images you probably have no emotional connection to. I can see it being helpful to people making ads to sell stuff but I don't think it has much to add to fine art. And for making images of landscapes nothing beats being in the REAL landscape and one that you personally have an emotional connection to. And it is just plain fun being outdoors. I don't know how I could enjoy painting a landscape in the studio that I had not somehow experienced in REAL life. For me their VIRTUAL world is limited and boring. My imagination and the real natural world are not. And I cannot imagine how boring it would be not to have the medium actually on my hands or brush. Pretty photographs of generic landscapes are about as dull as it gets. Time to get outside and paint!!

Rich said...

Surely not the "End of Landscape Painting":-)as the title goes.
It's about Arts, after all!

But a nice pastime, kind of a 21st-century jigsaw puzzle.

No comparison with the 20th-century invasion of computing machines, depriving people of calculation skills.

Timothy Bollenbaugh said...


Francis Lee Jaques. Friends worried about him not protecting his style from imitation, but he felt secure in that anyone would have to feel the same way as he did about the subject.

A previous post of James Gurney on Francis Lee Jaques:

CBreier said...

I would like to use this technology to invent landscape references that I can paint from. It's much cheaper and easier than traveling to exotic locations! As for replacing landscape painters? I don't think that will happen because most collectors are interested in hand made objects.

Luca said...

From what i've read around the web, many people are afraid these kind of softwares will make artists obsolete, but there are also artists enthusiastic about them. This software could be very useful in concept art, for example, since they use almost everything for movie and games concepts (paint-over 3d models, collages - or "photobashings"- and so on). It's a software that make things faster and everything that obtains that is used by concept artists and always will be. In other words, it's a software really useful in fields in which you have to deliver the best artwork possibile in the smallest time possible (concept artists have to do hundreds of concepts in pre-production and very few of them go to production phase).
As a digital artist, i'd use for some quick set up of concept art, but i wouldn't use for an illustration (brushwork is fun,even digital one, using this software would steal all the fun, i want to "paint" my happy little trees and their friends! :D ).
No need to say, no software will ever cause the end of traditional painting, which always will have its place in art, even commercial art (think to all the traditional painters that illustrate each new Magic set every year. Many of them are quite young: traditional painting is still alive and always will be, thanks Heaven!).

Rich said...

I shall be still looking out for "software" computer art, auctioned at Sotheby's & Co. , selling by the millions of USD.

Unknown said...

This artificial intelligence was trained on landscape photographs. I would be very interested in the output based on an AI trained on landscape paintings.

Bob said...

@Luca is right about "the happy little trees and their friends" -- What would Bob Ross say about this automation? After all, the computer can't feel. Yet as @James said, it could prove quite useful for producing video game backgrounds and such.

Sketchbook Blue said...

Unless (and maybe until) 3D printers can render the texture, depth and physicality of actual paint (the transparency and layering effects of "real" paints) I don't think artists are under threat for works to hang on a wall.
But maybe art will become more of a "performance" type event...the popularity of watching skilled artists paint other people and scenes on youtube and real-life is endlessly fascinating

Fan of the Arts said...

The beta version of this software is available to try out in your browser. Search GauGAN and you will find it on the Nvidia AI Playground page. Especially interesting when you paint dots of grass in a sky or use the tool in other unconventional ways.