How to spot AI-generated art, according to artists

How to spot AI-generated art, according to artists

How long will Can you tell the difference between images created by Generative Artificial Intelligence and human-made art with the naked eye? Ari Melenciano, an artist working at Google’s Creative Lab, squints at her computer screen during our Zoom chat, scanning artwork created with Generative AI. “I mean, I can hardly tell the difference now,” she says.

The release of AI art tools like Midjourney and DALL-E 2 has sparked controversy among artists, designers, and art fans alike. Many criticize the fact that the rapid advance of technology has been fueled by scouring the internet for publicly posted artworks and images, with no recognition or compensation for the artists who had their work stolen. “I think the current model of AI art generators is unethical because they collected their data – basically against the knowledge of everyone involved,” says Jared Krichevsky, a concept artist who designed the memorable AI bot for the M3GAN Movie.

Several artists continue to express anger at their original craftsmanship powering AI generators without informed consent. “Their works are entered into a machine against their will,” says Krichevsky. “This machine was specifically designed to replace us.” Companies behind AI generators will soon be defending themselves in court against claims of copyright infringement.

Despite the legal challenges, the widespread use of AI art tools continues to cause confusion. When a digital artist recently posted his work on Reddit, an r/Art moderator accused him of posting an image that was created with the help of AI. Is it still possible to see both at a glance? “I have a feeling the average person doesn’t have much time before they can’t tell the difference,” says Ellie Pritts, an artist who embraces multiple forms of Generative AI in her artwork.

It’s often joked on the internet that you can’t look closely at the hands in AI art or that you discover bizarre finger configurations. “The eyes can be a bit funky, too,” she says Logan Preshaw, a concept artist who denounces the use of current AI tools. He says, “Maybe they’re just dead and staring into nowhere, or they have strange structures.” Logan also doesn’t expect the small clues that the average viewer can use to identify AI art to stick around for very long. Several artists we interviewed agreed that such telltale signs become less obvious as technology advances, and the developers behind these tools are adapting them to fix common ailments like dead eyes and too many fingers.

Dan Edder, a 3D character artist, believes viewers should consider a piece’s overall design when attempting to discern an AI image. “Let’s say it was some sort of ‘fantasy warrior armor’ situation. At first glance, the artwork looks beautiful and very detailed, but often there is no logic behind it,” he says. “When a concept artist designs armor for a character, there are a few things to consider: functionality, limb placement, how far is that going to stretch.”

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