Google has an AI experiment that is fascinating and also very useful for the artistically challenged. It enables anyone to draw on the screen and produce artwork that they can download.
What differentiates this drawing tool from everything else that you can draw with is the AI, which can guess what you intended to draw. It then replaces your awful artwork with a perfectly drawn image.
You can then colour the drawing, add text, shapes and so on, and then download it to disk and use it wherever you want. It is brilliant and you must try it to see how amazing it is.
1 AutoDraw on the web
Go to the AutoDraw website in a browser and click the button to start drawing. There is a tutorial, but really it is so simple you won’t need it.
2 Begin drawing
Click and drag with the mouse to draw on the screen. With every line you draw, AutoDraw tries to guess the object. At the top you can see the suggestions after drawing a circle - 'Did you mean:'
3 Continue drawing
Keep on drawing and AutoDraw keeps on guessing. Look how the suggestions have changed. It thinks I am drawing a smiley face, among other things.
4 A correct guess!
The addition of whiskers changes everything and now the first five suggestions are cats! When AutoDraw correctly guesses what you are drawing, click the image you want from the suggestions bar.
5 Finished drawing? There’s more...
Now that AutoDraw has replaced your image with a superbly drawn one, click the button in the bottom left corner to access the tools. There is Select, Draw, Type, Fill and Shape.
In the bottom right corner is another button and this one is for selecting the pen, text or fill colour.
6 Customise the image
Use the tools to modify the image and colour it, add text and draw some more. An artist could probably do a better cat in no time at all, but for an artistic dummy like me, this is brilliant.
7 Save and share
Click the menu button in the top left corner to open the sidebar. There are options to download the finished artwork to disk or to share it on social media sites.
The AI that this this AutoDraw website using is very clever. You can draw something really badly, yet it can often correctly guess what you intended to draw.
Unless you are a programmer, you probably don’t appreciate how hard it is to recognise shapes and objects.
Of course, it seems obvious to any real person that my drawing is of a cat, but getting a computer to recognise wonky lines that should be straight, circles that are nowhere near circular, and other badly drawn objects is very difficult.
This isn’t going to replace clip art anytime soon, but it is a fascinating experiment in machine learning and recognition.
Where will it lead? Who knows, maybe one day we won’t type the image we are searching for into Google search and instead we will draw it.