According to their website, the Prisma App has been installed over 100 million times. This App converts your photos into artwork using styles of famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns.
They use neural networks and artificial intelligence for creating timeless art from your own photos. I must admit that's pretty cool. But how do they do it? How do they create and release these image effects? And how do they make them work with any image?
My first hint was when they said they use artificial intelligence. Apple loves Prisma. They named Prisma the iPhone 2016 App of the year. And now Apple has released CoreML technology for working for both image recognition as well as image style transfers. CoreML uses this same kind of trained models for image recognition and image to art. They call this machine learning.
So where do these models come from? They have to be trained. You can just buy Prisma, but if you are into coding, you need to get your hands on transfer style models. There are technologies like Tensor Flow that can help. There's been a lot of progress in this area lately thanks to graphics processing units (GPUs). This has led to Deep Learning and the complex multi-level neural networks for creating models.
But there are two kinds of models. Those for image recognition and those for image style transfers. It is the style transfers that are used by Apps like Prisma. In order to create style transfer model, an artist or developer needs a style image and a content image. An example of a style image is the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh shown below. A content image is any image you want to start with. Once the model is created, users can transfer the style of any other image, not just the content image.
If you are working with IOS, you will need to convert the model to CoreML. There are various tools for doing this. The bottom line is that creative artists are able to use tools and existing art to create transfer models that are able to change the style of images into a form of art. The new art is similar to the style image used to create the model. What fun!
I will be reviewing other Apps using AI models for image recognition and style transfer in future reviews. In the mean time, grab Prisma and have some fun.