AI & graphic design
The first example of AI entering into the field of design that I came across (and what initially started my interest in wanting to learn more about AI and creativity), was The Grid, which is a website that launched in 2015 that provides customers with modern-looking websites that their AI can create in just a few minutes. All the Grid requires is for a customer to upload its content and its AI algorithms then go to work handling its setup and design.
(The) goal was for users to be able to create websites that were just as easy as posting social media updates. – Dan Tocchini, The Grid’s CEO
A software company based in Seattle called Haiku Deck boasts a tagline on its website: “Professional designs, without the designer.” Haiku Deck can automatically generate finished slideshow presentations. Its software is powered by AI that can analyze language, imagery and identify keywords, which allows it to make recommendations for users who want to customize fonts and images for the more than adequate result it automatically designs.
Through a website called AI Color Wheel, AI can automatically colorize logos, illustrations, wireframes and other graphical art. Users just need to upload a flat black and white design containing fewer than 10 indexed colors, and voilà, an analogous, complementary or entirely different color scheme can quickly be explored and applied.
An early AI project created by two researchers Gary McGraw and John Rehling, developed software called Letter Spirit that designed a variety of artistically consistent digital letterforms all on its own.
Taking this a step further, the website FontJoy.com uses a deep learning system to generate font pairings because, as it says on their website, font pairing is a “…classic problem in the design world” (“Guide to Font Pairing for Designers and Devs”). Interestingly, the developers admit that it is hard to determine what exactly makes a good font pairing, so instead they invert the question, asking what makes lousy pairings, an easier premise to start from.
There are now multiple AI-powered logo website generators, including Automagic.design, TailorBrands, Brandmark.io, Squarespace, and Wix. Users enter the organization’s information, a description of services, associated keywords, and then color, icon and style preferences. The result is a generic looking yet acceptable logo that users can download along with business card and social media post designs.
Because the automated results for websites, presentations and logos are often generic, a human designer could provide real value in being consulted in the process to judge these bland outputs. The human designer could either better direct the AI system or use the automated outputs for prototyping or as a starting point, customizing them into something more professional, unique and personalized for clients.
Adobe’s AI technology, Adobe Sensei, is its big bet on the future of creative making and working. Adobe keeps raising the bet by rolling out new AI-powered features; it currently has more than two hundred Ph.D. researchers in AI working on Adobe Sensei technology. Features in the free Adobe mobile apps that are aimed at amateurs and casual designers provide a glimpse into how designers might work in the near future.
The Adobe Spark app sports features such as Design Filters, Magic Layouts, and the Style Suggestion Wheel. With a click of a button, these features provide impressively trendy font layouts, looks, and styles as well as design layout options. Adobe Capture features the Type Capture app which can perform a visual search on Typekit and suggest similar fonts and character styles, which designers can then use with desktop apps.
On the Adobe Stock website, users can bypass using words to search for imagery and instead upload an image visually similar to the stock photo they would like to download. Adobe’s visual search tool is powered by computer vision technology that scans an enormous database of images, provided by Adobe, looking for patterns similar to a variety of attributes.
Other Adobe Sensei AI tools and effects include auto-lip syncing and auto-animating features in Adobe Character Animator, auto-arranging and searching for loops and songs in Adobe Audition, and auto-color matching video clips and auto-ducking music levels during scenes with dialogue in Adobe Premiere. All of these are tasks once required quite a bit of expertise and extensive time to complete, which further points to the advantages of AI helping with creative tasks.
These advancements demonstrate that AI is not slowly entering creative fields. It is already here. New AI-powered tools suggest that creative fields are on the verge of being radically disrupted by companies that provide creatives with tools that are doing more of the heavy lifting during redundant, tedious tasks.
As a result, it is fair to speculate that in the near future, AI will be able to handle more of the form-making skills that designers are accustomed to mastering. Some designers may consider this absurd and improbable, but as with AlphaGo, AI can improve exponentially over time as it learns and gains access to more data. This leads to the next point, why designers should care.
Check out my post here for my thoughts on what future skills I think creatives should consider honing to better adapt to the coming changes.
Let me know in the comments below which of these emerging technologies you find most fascinating. Looking ahead, how do you think AI is going to change the way you might work in the near future?
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