Machine learning turns photos into works of art

Most of us are familiar with photo filters that give our photos a vintage look or a warm glow. But recently, a whole new kind of “art filters” have emerged that turn photos into works of art that resemble famous paintings — like “Starry Night” by Van Gogh or “The Scream” by Munch. When I first saw my friends posting these photo-painting hybrids, I thought a) they look really cool, and b) how do they actually work???

So Lo and I talked to some research scientists at Google to find out. It turns out these so-called filters aren’t filters at all, but a far more complex and interesting process called style transfer. Style transfer apps use deep neural networks (a technique in machine learning) to look at images, determine what’s content in one and style in another, then synthesize them together into an image that’s a combination of both. And cooler still — a team at Google has been working on technology that can combine multiple styles in a single transfer, in real time. You can read their full post on the Research Blog.

NatLo Style Transfer_Photo

Watch the video above for more info on how style transfer works, and to see me turn a photo of my dog into a Kandinsky-esque work of art.