Picas – Turning Photography Into Digital Art

This past week I’ve been playing with Picas, a new filter app for my phone. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a couple of shots I shared there.

The premise of the app is, according to the description, that it ‘combines deep neural networks and artificial intelligence to automatically redraw photos into famous art effects.’ The filters are based upon famous paintings: Munch’s The Scream, Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Hokusai’s Great Wave are all represented, along with many others.

So, how does it work?

Well, the deeper programming mysteries will have to remain just that for the time being, but basically, when you open the app, you have the option to either take a photo or access your photo library. Once you’ve chosen an image you’re taken to the filters screen, where you can scroll through the different filters and apply them, only saving the amended images you want to keep.

img_3827And there are some pretty cool effects. Here’s a photo I took of some red shoes (thinking about the cover for A Thousand Rooms). I then applied a few different filters to get the following:

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And here are some photos of me. First I added a Snapchat filter (see note on copyright below), then I added the Picas filters to get different effects. It only took a few minutes to do, and I think that, if you played around with costumes and make-up, you could create an image to suit just about any genre.

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Overall, I think that Picas has some great effects, and I really enjoyed playing around with my photos. I was a little disappointed with the Klimt filter, as I would have loved to be changed into one of his glorious golden paintings, but at the same time, I appreciate there are such things as copyright laws, so the filters are designed to give your images the same feel as the artworks, rather than converting them to fake masterpieces.

img_3849And, speaking of copyright, there was one caveat I forgot to mention on my Prisma post, and the same would apply here. If you use a filter for a photo which is then used for commercial purposes (ie a book cover), it’s worth checking with the app provider that there are no copyright issues involved in doing so. As for Picas, I’ve already done that bit for you – a quick email exchange with app creator Miya assured me that, once the filters are on your photos, they’re yours to use as you wish.

So. Another great little app full of options for creating cover designs or promotional images, or even just having fun with holiday snaps. It’s easy to use, and it’s free. Available now for Android and i0S.

Note: I was approached by the creators of Picas to provide an honest review and I thought, why the hell not? This is my blog, after all 🙂

Wednesday Wander – Setanta Wall, Dublin

Dublin mural 2

This is the Setanta Wall in Dublin, Ireland. Created in 1974 by the artist Desmond Kinney, it depicts scenes from the story of Cúchulainn and the Cattle Raid of Cooley. The small art critic standing nearby will give you an idea of the size of the piece, the vibrant colours and textures obviously hitting a positive note with her.

The mural is on a side street and, at the time we saw it, had a mosaic panel nearby – apparently this is now gone. As you can see, at the time it was already quite deteriorated along the bottom and side edges, so perhaps it just fell away. There was no other indication as to who had created the artwork or what it represented, which I thought was quite sad.

I hope things have changed for the wall now, and that perhaps the panel can be restored. If you are in Dublin, it’s definitely worth going to see – or perhaps you’ve seen it already.

Dublin mural 1

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next week!