Google likes to make experimental web apps from time to time, but the company introduced something a bit different on Thursday. Google is collaborating with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and 12 cultural institutions across Japan on a new virtual art exhibit called Manga Out Of The Box, and part of the project is a web app for generating manga-like artwork.
The company wrote in a blog post:
With Giga Manga, you’ll be able to create your own manga-style ink drawings with the help of machine learning. In this unique experiment, all you need to do is sketch a few simple lines and add some splashes of color – then let machine learning fill in the rest. You can also draw freeform to personalize your creation further. And when you’re done, the tool will help you discover manga similar to the one you’ve drawn.
The web app is accessible on the web, and generally seem to work well. However, “a few simple lines” is overselling the tool a bit — you’ll need to sketch much of the image by yourself. The web app mostly just helps with shading and color filling. Giga Manga also seems to have a difficult time if an object has the same color for both the outline and fill. When you’re done, the tool shows artwork generated by other people that looks similar to what you made.
Manga Out Of The Box includes other hybrid digital pieces, including a visual history and timeline of manga art and insights from artists like Takashi Murakami (who is well known for his “superflat” art style and its influence on other artists’ work). You can check out the full collection at the blog post linked below.