Search engine giants Google has launched a platform to help people who are terrible at art communicate visually.
It also published research about teaching art to another terrible stick-figure drawer: a neural network.
Essentially, the program, AutoDraw, allows you to use your finger (or mouse if you’re on a computer) to sketch out basic images like apples and zebras.
Then, it analyzes your pathetical drawing and suggests a professionally-drawn version of the same thing. You then click on the nice drawing you wanted, and it replaces yours with the better one. It’s like autocorrect, but for drawing.
Nooka Jones, the team lead at Google’s creative lab, says that AutoDraw is about helping people express themselves. “A lot of people are fairly bad at drawing, but it shouldn’t limit them from being able to communicate visually,” he says.
“What if we could help people sketch out their ideas, or bring their ideas to life, through visual communication, with the idea of machine learning?”
The system’s underlying tech has its roots in a surprising place, according to Dan Motzenbecker, a creative technologist at Google.
“It’s a neural network that’s actually originally devised to recognize handwriting,” he says. That handwriting could be Latin script, or Chinese or Japanese characters, like kanji. From there, “it’s not that big of a leap to go to a doodle.”