Google released a surrealist, AI-assisted monster maker for free

Say goodbye to what little productivity (and sanity) you still had left this year.

Looking for a new way to put a face to your modern anxieties? Yesterday, Google's AI Blog published an article detailing one of its newest, strangest projects: a trained machine learning (ML) program called Chimera Painter which translates user-made creature outlines into more detailed renderings of fantastical monsters.

As the blog post explains, the idea behind the company's recent ML model was to help eventually cut down work for video game designers by reducing the time involved in early character creations. "What if artists had a paintbrush that acted less like a tool and more like an assistant? A machine learning model acting as such a paintbrush could reduce the amount of time necessary to create high-quality art without sacrificing artistic choices, perhaps even enhancing creativity," reads the article. "Enhancing creativity" is certainly one way to describe the results, as you can see below.

This last season of Game of Thrones really sucks.Google

Using generative adversarial networks to play God — To accomplish this new nightmare fuel generator, the team first designed an entire fantasy card game based around hundreds of fighting animal combinations, because sure, why not? They then trained an AI agent to create the game's randomized creatures by first teaching it thousands of computer-generated animals labeled with body parts like "eyes," "torso," and "claws." Next, the AI was charged with making its own amalgamations from user-generated base models in whatTech Crunch explains is part of "a generative adversarial network or GAN, which means it’s two working in concert: one generates an image, the other criticizes it, then the first takes the feedback and generates again, and so on."

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder — So what can a layperson do with all this newfound nerd power? Well, it all seems to really come down to just how much MS Paint factored into their childhoods. That, and how "intelligent" Google's new monster lab AI truly can be. In its current form, the Chimera Painter is still in its infancy (although its retro-90's RPG interface is pitch-perfect stuff), so it's not the easiest to utilize.

It'll take some trial and error, but really, that's what this whole thing is about, right? That, and making weird, phallic meat monsters to snicker at like the child you truly are. Here's what we managed to come up once we stopped giggling...

Kill it with fire.Google / Author
Creations that just leap off the screen...Google / Author
Portrait of the author as a young ghoul.Google / Andrew Paul

Sure, it might not be as useful to society as AI that helps detect fake websites propagating fake news, but for early character design work, the Chimera Painter could truly help ease artists' workloads. Now, if we could only design a system to rank our monsters based on hotness...