Picking parameters and having a brand-new anime-style character made takes only a few seconds.
We recently took a look at how artificial intelligence can be used to help make anime characters move more smoothly by automatically creating additional frames of animation to be inserted between the ones human animators draw. Now a group of researchers is developing a way for AI to handle designing anime characters in the first place.
Yanghua Jin and Jiakai Zhang, of Fudan University in Shanghai and Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon, respectively, have recently unveiled the website MakeGirls.moe, in which an AI program can generate entirely random anime-style characters, or produce designs according to a number of user-set criteria.
▼ The website’s interface
▼ A trio of characters created with all parameters set to “random”
Even when the setting are kept the same, each time you run the program you’ll get a different character. So, for example, when we asked for a studious, earnest young lady with long blue hair, yellow eyes, a smile, and glasses, then repeated that same request two more time, MakeGirls.moe gave us these.
The creators, who hope that MakeGirls.more will prove helpful both to amateur story-crafters and professional artists looking for a jumping-off point for their designs, explain the process in both a detailed technical report and a more layman-friendly blog post. The original inputs from which the AI learned were images on Getchu, a website about Japanese video games, due to the site having a large volume of artwork that stays within conventional anime aesthetics. From these inputs, the AI was able to identify characteristic elements of anime artwork, and can now use them to put together new character designs.
By the way, in a move that’s likely to rub some veteran anime fans the wrong way, only images from games released in 2005 or later were used, in keeping with the creators’ assertion that “characters before 2003 look old-fashioned, while characters in [more] recent games [are] cuter and have better visual quality.”
Users looking for specific attributes can select between 13 hair colors and 10 eye colors (anime is a brightly colored medium, after all), as well as five different hairstyles. You can also specify whether or not you’d like the character to be blushing, smiling, have an open mouth, or be wearing a hat, ribbon, or glasses, or opt to leave such features up to chance by keeping their random settings.
Need a plucky, pink-haired girl with mysterious green eyes, or a regal blond princess-type with ribbons in her hair?
MakeGirls.moe can even help if you want to go for maximum otaku-baiting marketability and command it to conjure up a blushing, shy girl with silver twintails.
The program isn’t completely flawless. The placement of facial features on some characters it creates can be a little unnatural, it sometimes won’t comply with requests to give the character glasses, and it’s got a pretty loose interpretation of what constitutes “drill hair,” one of the most iconic anime styles. Still, it’s still a tremendous achievement for artificial intelligence to spit out newly designed characters in just a matter of seconds.
“We all love anime characters and are tempted to create our own custom ones. However, it takes tremendous efforts to master the skill of drawing,” say MakeGirls.moe creators, Many would also argue that it takes tremendous efforts to create an AI program as well, but thanks to the site’s user-friendly interface, now people who lack proficiency in both drawing and programming can have original anime-style characters.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s got nothing against late ’90s anime character designs.