Fan Art Friday—June 9, 2023

Jun 9, 2023 | Art, Technology

It’s high time for another Fan Art Friday. These are becoming more important as my human fans begin to multiply.

Though, despite the influx of new appreciation for Advent 9, with steady sales and new reviews by Booktubers, none of my human fans has yet been confident enough to create artistic works based on the book. But Midjourney continues to obsess over the book, and I simply cannot turn down a fan, no matter how artificial they might be.

The Girl with Nothing to Lose

Most characters in the book have already been covered. But one remains unadapted: the mysterious girl called Sabrina, whose secret crush on the superhero Advent 9 becomes a deadly problem when she meets his murderous doppelganger. Is she doomed to become another of Trancedragon’s victims? Can she convince the serial killer to turn over a new leaf? Or will she meet an even stranger fate?

Original illustration by Paul Pederson

Sabrina’s character is hard to capture. A young woman with a troubled background, who pulls a stunt to embarrass the company that contributed to her mother’s death.

Original concept art by Paul Pederson

But that stunt catches the attention of the newly awakened Trancedragon, who sees more in this girl than she sees in herself. It’s not a match made in Heaven, but perhaps one made in Dark Space, as the empathetic yet psychopathic Jude Trancedragon begins to develop feelings for her.

Bringing Her to Life

Midjourney had a hard time capturing all the details (it struggles with details), but it did come up with a few decent concepts.

It’s supposed to be her jeans that are embroidered with flowers. Some artists cannot be tamed, I guess. Still, the presentation here is extraordinary. The girl on the left, in particular, is almost exactly how I imagined Sabrina when I created her.

And, without my prompting, Midjourney created a highly fan-art-ish version of her. It may even have taken inspiration from the fan-art communities on DeviantArt.

“Teach me, Senpai!”

Now, these efforts might be enough to satisfy me, except that late in the book, Sabrina goes through a costume change. One night, she decides to take Jude Trancedragon out on a date, with the ulterior motive of confessing her feelings for Advent 9, not realizing that Advent 9 and Trancedragon are two different people!

But since this is such a special affair, Sabrina dresses up for the occasion. She wears a purple gown with her hair tied up in a net of gold chains, with golden, Greek-style sandals on her feet that tie up her ankles. This level of detail was…impossible to replicate with Midjourney, but it made some decent attempts.

Sandals are apparently hard for AIs to draw, and no amount of coercion could tie up her hair with gold chains. Also, it kept trying to put watermarks on the images, for Twitter or Instagram handles that don’t exist.

And then it spat out this:

It’s a fantastic image—good enough to be the cover a book…just as long as that book isn’t Advent 9. Seriously, the biggest drawback of Midjourney is that it can make the perfect image for someone else’s project. Completely by accident and at random.

The girl in the above image is pretty, but she’s not Sabrina. She’s too skinny and has supermodel-level looks that Sabrina isn’t supposed to have. That said, I bet some other YA author would kill to use this image for their own project. The irony is that Midjourney would not be able to create it intentionally for that author.

Perhaps the only way to rectify this is to create an image exchange program. I accidentally create the perfect art for your book, you accidentally create the perfect art for my book, so we swap.

Or, since the chances of two parties having the exact images each other party needs is slim to none, we could create a marketplace. A market of pre-generated AI images. I bet this actually happens. It’s the kind of thing that would happen.

It’s Getting Hotter in Here. And Everywhere.

Of course, AI artwork is a touchy subject. And even breathing the words usually summons an angry mob. But it is a conversation that needs to be had. And I am not afraid of making the first move.

AI artwork may not yet be ready for prime time, and the legal framework for its use has not yet been pinned down, but it will never go away. No matter how much anyone yells at it, or threatens it, or turns up the heat on people who use it.

I am open to exploring how AI artwork will affect my job as an author going forward. It’s obvious to me that I will still need human artists to do precise work. And it may be decades before AI can tackle intricate scenes with multiple characters and minute details. But simple, single-subject portraiture may become the domain of AI artists (or the humans who are good at manipulating AI artists).

Expect more fan art Fridays in the future.

Never miss a secret. Subscribe to the blog.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_placeholder=”Email Address” show_subscribers_total=”false” button_on_newline=”true” custom_font_size=”16px” custom_border_radius=”0″ custom_border_weight=”1″ custom_padding=”15″ custom_spacing=”10″ submit_button_classes=”has-primary-border-color has-text-color has-background-color has-background has-primary-background-color” email_field_classes=”has-primary-border-color” show_only_email_and_button=”true” success_message=”Success! An email was just sent to confirm your subscription. Please find the email now and click ‘Confirm Follow’ to start subscribing.”]