It is not just AI: demystifying how “easy” is to create stuff with it.

For the reader that has a strong opinion formed and nothing will change its mind: YES, creating with AI is easier.

Moving past that, it is logical right? why would someone invent the next version of a hammer if it is harder, slower and more difficult to use than the everlasting hammer we all know.

The issue here is that AI is not an apples to apples thing. It is, as reality, a complex mix of evolution. You can say the same about photography and developing film in a dark room, film taken with a camera that has no image stabilization or digital components and required a deeper knowledge of how light behaves, positioning, keeping your body still as possible and choosing the right conditions.

AI is here to stay, and I’m not ignoring the warnings and issues that, as complex things, always brought to the table. I’ve written on the bad side of AI before and what I think it needs some serious attention.

AI, for me, it is not only making some things easier but primarily it is making thing faster (with all its pros and cons).

I’ll speak on what I do first to put some context. This is my process (which I also mentioned as a workflow in another post):

  • I generate a bunch of images based on a prompt, it could start from a solid idea or from a seed of an idea, and I adapt the prompt based on the output I get from the AI (I use LeonardoAI).
  • I could like an output right away, or, in the majority of the cases, I try different versions or keep on generating until something looks good to me.
  • I upscale it, which has some other things to tweak.
  • I download it and edit in Photoshop.
  • In Photoshop I’ll use my experience as a Web Designer and (still learning) amateur photographer… and I add this because there is huge difference between creations that are spammed into a platform consisting of prompt, generate and publish images vs. people like me (and experts) that spend time making the AI output faaar better than the original. Here lies the creative part that a lot of people think it is pure AI… no, it is not.
    • Composition / Extend background
    • Light
    • Removal of strange annoyances (like hands, extra fingernails, objects, missing stuff, twisted anatomy)
    • I spend a lot of time with the eyes, as Sereon mentions in his interview “Make sure to get the eyes right”, I don’t always succeed but I find it important.
    • More light and glows (this is something personal that I think people don’t play with and it is widely used in Stock Photography).
  • Export the image in two formats (or more depending if censorship is needed or special sizes for social media)
  • Schedule, publish.

Some would say that it is not as hard as organizing a photo shoot, coordinate models, pay for catering, have backups of expensive equipment and this and that and bla…. or that I didn’t had to draw the model, paint it, learn about anatomy. YES! it is not the same, but that is the magic of this: we don’t need to do that anymore (unless for specific cases and of course if we want to learn). Digital artists don’t have to mix paint and buy canvas either and Digital allows for speed, retouching and expands creativity in other ways than classic painting.

Before After - Blue Elf

I do understand this is a threat to a lot of people but I don’t think people should stop doing what they love or what gives them money. I think we all need to improve whatever we need to improve and know / understand when we are kicking the fuck out of a dead horse. Also, in photography, AI is making possible for people who doesn’t have budget to experiment with different things. Even professionals are using AI in a daily basis.

I work in IT and there are many thing I wouldn’t do anymore. Of course I (from time to time) will draw the “in my times we spent 10x time dealing with hardware conflicts and searching blindly for answers because there was no Internet.” but that is part of the voyage we took:

Legacy and Humanism

That is the part of the road we paved. I think we need to focus more on what we are creating and doing right and leaving some non productive things behind. Even if it is for the fun and joy of a couple people. Of course if we can make a couple bucks, learn, meet new people; it is much more worth the while. But we need to understand that complaining without real evidence and a goal will lower you more into oblivion than make other people’s mind to change.

Everything is Relative

I’m not downplaying the bad impact that AI has (because there are). I’m also a musician and I see (and listen) things I don’t like. But instead of trying to change people’s minds I like to understand why they don’t care in the first place. That, of course, can be a bitter road to walk, but it leads to a useful truth than to a depressive judgment without weight or value that will not push the needle to the side I think (or may think) we need to lean to.

Don’t get Blurry Vision

Will I stop making music on my own or with friends? will illustrators and painters using classic technique stop doing what they love? If we do, we are the ones to blame and we will loose ourselves. Of course we won’t do it. In fact, I think there is a lot to say and a lot to regain in continuously pushing forward artistic endeavors that don’t use AI (or use less tech), because I think one of the many unsolved and under-looked issues in the world today is that we take things for granted and we quickly forget (in this complexity thing) how hard things are to build, to maintain, to create and to evolve. And in fact, there is a huge potential and need for revivalism (if that term exists)… no wonder that survivalist, old tech, archaic technologies and old whatever channels in YouTube where blooming even before the pandemic. There is wonder in reconciling the past and it is needed to recover the knowledge, art and magic we constantly loose because velocity blurs important subtleties.

Let me know what you think about this and anything I may be missing. I appreciate the comments.

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