How AI created my “Season greetings”

Preparing this year’s “Season greetings“, I wondered what might be a good snapshot of the moment we are in. It should be kind of comforting, with a smile – and a surprise. This was the result:

Dancing with woolen caps in a colorfull snowy landscape painted by AI

Let me share the full story.

Working with Canva’s “Magic Studio“, I started with a short description in German of a scene that had shaped in my mind:

Male mir ein farbiges Aquarell im Querformat A1 von einer tief verschneiten, bunten Winterlandschaft, in der ein Dutzend Männer, Frauen und Kinder mit bunten Wollmützen um ein großes, dickes Buch mit einer Schneemütze obenauf tanzen.” (In DeepL‘s English translation, this reads “Paint me a colorful watercolor in landscape format A1 of a snow-covered, colorful winter landscape in which a dozen men, women and children in colorful woolen hats dance around a large, thick book with a snow cap on top.”

For the “text-to-image” creation, I opted at first for OpenAI’s Dall-E tool, which – in my view – produced a rather dull picture.

Colorful people dancing on a book in a snowy landscape, produced by Dell-E

A bit disappointed, I switched to another platform, Mojo AI, with the same text, which resulted in a definitely more original image. 

Colorful people dancing on a book in a snowy landscape, produced by MojoAI

Yet, I was still not satisfied, given the lack of unique edge. So I tried Google DeepMind’s Imagen2 – and was struck. Like the previous tools, it provided several images from which I could choose. But here, the diversity in style and character was of an entirely other magnitude. The range was so much wider, spanning from yet another boring off-the-shelf children book kitsch

Colorful people dancing on a book in a snowy landscape, produced by Imagen2

…all the way to a genuinely spooky witches’ sabbath, and each variation from one and the same text, which I had only slightly edited and translated into English:

“Paint me a colorful watercolor of a snow-covered, colorful winter landscape with a big book in the middle, and a dozen men, women and children in colorful woolen hats dancing around this book.” 

Colorful people dancing on a book in a snowy landscape, produced by Imagen2

In the end, for my “Season greetings”, I opted for the version at the start of this post – as it might be a bit more on the smiling, and tongue-in-cheek side.

My main learning from this little exercise is how quickly a playful and rich interaction has emerged and captured my mind – which is quite the opposite of many odd us-versus-them, human-versus-the-machine discourses that I had come across in the past year. So I promised to myself to continue that little dance, with a joyful smile and curious to explore more of it in the New Year.

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