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Do you even need steampunk artists...

Started by selectedgrub, November 28, 2023, 09:15:28 AM

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anymore now that AI is plastering the interwebs.

Not only is the art piece (gun) fake but so is the polyester girl.



Context. The artist has an imagination that provides context to the art. The context explains why the art was created and why it was designed that way, even if it is meaningless. If AI users told us how they achieved a certain output, it might help give them context, but they don't do that. They just show the art without context.

Sorontar, Captain of 'The Aethereal Dancer'
Advisor to HM Engineers on matters aethereal, aeronautic and cosmographic

J. Wilhelm

Context may not be required. A Collage is seldom explained to the public, because good collage should be a readily understandable composition all by itself (an exception would be surrealism, of course).

Graphic AI software is nothing more and nothing less than a collage machine. Someone trains the AI, or the AI trains itself using a subroutine, which is akin to scanning and saving millions, even billions of paper magazine pages in memory and then the same software prompts a human for input. The human specifies what kind of elements they want to see on an image, and then the machine furiously searches the pages, cuts snippets from each page that has an element similar to what the human prompted, does that repeatedly for each element the human requested, and then intelligently pastes and blends those snippets together to make them look like a single piece of artwork.

AI is grossly overrated. People should not make the machine into an artist, or assume that it's "intelligent" (it's not, and we can debate that), nor should they discount the composition of the machine operator.

By the way, the latter of which is the current legal trend being applied; that is, to ignore the human's input altogether and claim the machine did it alone. It's the wrong judgement, because the same argument was used in the 19th century to invalidate photography, under the pretext that the camera was doing all the work and the operator only pushed a trigger. "How can a copy be art?" critics complained - and not without reason. But that argument didn't stand the test of time, did it?

When a photographer is lauded or given a prize for their work, are people lauding the camera's technology? No, of course not. They're lauding the photographer's choice of technique and composition. And let me point out that when photographers publish work, they don't always describe textually what the composition means, nor do they explain what type of equipment they use. Why? Because the composition should be clear enough all by itself.

Eventually, the operator, or rather the user of the AI software will have to be recognized as a legitimate artist, the same way a photographer is recognized as one today.


AI art is necessarily derivative of existing art. You aren't going to get any originality out of it.

What I've seen looks like detail of existing art stretched over layouts of existing art.


Still where are all the Miliners, tailors and gadget makers gone that could produce a real version of the photo.

J. Wilhelm

Well, Steampunk has gone back underground, so these makers you speak of aren't as numerous or as visible as they were when Steampunk became mainstream over a decade ago.  Do the artists exist? Well, they should, probably not under the title "Steampunk," considering that there's a lot of people who make costumes for cosplay, for example. I don't see why any costume maker in 2023 would have a problem reproducing this picture I generated with, for example:

Changing the subject a bit, I think AI is a great design tool.  It can be used to compliment your ideas, because the computer will naturally deviate from your ideas according to a variable control setting. The image you see took many iterations to turn into what I wanted to see. I would jump from one AI model to another when that version of AI wasn't responding to a request, or gave me something I didn't want.

Among the number of images I generated, about 20 or 30 to get to that single image you see, the AI would insert odd design changes that sometimes helped me get new ideas for other costumes, for example.  At other times, the AI was horribly stubborn and just refused to give me anything useful. 

The Lederhosen chest plate you see in the picture had to be forcibly inserted in the picture (Photoshopped a picture from an online catalogue) and then I input the modified picture back into the AI so it would intelligently blend my patch into the image, while reinterpreting the chest plate (the final form is what you see in the picture), because when specifying tracht or lederhose, the AI refused to paint anything other than standard trouser braces and men's cloth shorts. Apparently that version of Stable Diffusion had very little input on traditional German trachten.

Eventually it did start drawing leather shorts, on its own, but what the AI did do without a prompt, surprisingly, was to introduce a corseted extension (abdomen area, see picture) on a pair of cloth shorts, which I didn't ask for, nor specify in any way. Curiously that matched my own uniform concept for the Luftschiffengl characters, who wear a metallic corset over their lederhosen shorts, which are Denim, not leather. 

So I thought that was an interesting development that can be used in design. I can see fashion designers using AI. So just like that, the computer will suggest ideas as you move closer to what you want to see. Sometimes the best thing to do is to not insist on the computer giving you what you want, and you have to change tack and pursue another concept, or even mix AI software (input the output of one AI into another - I did that a lot). When you're inputting your own Photoshop changes, then you are training the AI.


I would argue you still need artists to generate unique or very specific artworks, even if that artist uses artificial intelligence as an aiding tool for their works.

The output of artificial intelligence is limited by the input of the end user, thus the true quality is heavily dependent on how good a keyworder the user is, and how competent they are at implementing the artwork.

What this means is that while artificial intelligence will encroach our daily lives, it will ultimately join Photoshop in the artist's toolbox.

To conclude, artists are still necessary if we want great works over the mediocre, misused and or misunderstood.
Elymas J. Banderbine
Urban Druid