Google’s New AutoDraw App Will Make Anyone a Stock-Art Maestro

Welcome to the age of smartart. Google’s latest effort combining artificial intelligence and art is an impressive new app called AutoDraw, which is basically the world’s best Pictionary teammate. Users can scrawl a few basic lines, and AutoDraw will do its best to interpret them and replace them with professional line drawings of the intended object, allowing even those of us who struggle to create passable stick figures to draw.

(It’s also, as CNET discovered, passably able to interpret minimalist Modern works of art, like Pablo Picasso‘s sketches of his beloved dog Lump.)

Google’s official blog post introducing AutoDraw describes it as “a new web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw,” developed because “drawing on your phone or computer can be slow and difficult.”

The idea is that you can quickly access clean and simple images from professional artists, allowing you to easily create fliers, invitations, and other materials otherwise requiring graphic-design know-how. (Google also suggests you use the app to doodle during boring meetings.)

Google AutoDraw at work. Courtesy of Google.

Google AutoDraw at work. Courtesy of Google.

The technology is borrowed from the company’s existing Quick, Draw! product, a little game that gives you a one word prompt, 20 seconds to draw it, and sees if the neural network AI can correctly identify your image. As you draw in AutoDraw, the suggestion tool offers a number of clip art replacements for your scribbled image.

The new app is already a big hit, as its website is currently down, instructing would-be users that “This application is temporarily over its serving quota. Please try again later.”

Once it’s back up and running, you’ll be able to use AutoDraw on your phone, computer, and tablet devices, all without downloading or purchasing anything. And, if you’re among those of us with a gifted hand, you can also contribute your own artwork to the AutoDraw library here.

The initial set of images, which number in the hundreds, are from designers and illustrators Erin Butner, Julia Melograna, Pie Liew, Simone Noronha, and Tori Hinn, and HAWRAF design studio and Selman Design Creative Studio.

Watch the video for AutoDraw:

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