“Picture yourself in a boat on a river”

image of a person in a boat on a river, overlaid on a pattern of rectangles.I wanted to do a random visual assignment, so I sorted the entries in the section from old to new and picked one from the first page, the One Shot assignment. To make it AI-related I decided to get a generated image to start with. I went to the Rundown AI tools page and picked the Magic Studio AI Image Generator for no other reason than it was free-ish and looked like it would do the job, i.e. create a scene from a text input. As I was wondering what to say, these lyrics came to mind:

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies

That seemed as good as anything. I made a few versions. They had very little variation, so I just picked this one. The first thing I did was see if I could remove their watermark, not seen in the image above but very visible on the download. In Photopea, I fixed it with the Magic Wand tool and the Content-Aware Fill function. Would we call that function AI? Whatever, it worked pretty well to flawlessly. Next I had to chop it up to create tension and narrative. It wasn’t exactly a tense scene, so that could be a challenge.

I copied sections and adjusted the scale. I also played with Levels, Hue and Saturation.
To make it comic-book-like, I used the Magic Wand to select the background area on each layer, then inverted the selection so I had the image part. I made a new layer, then used the Modify-Expand function to increase the selected area by 8 pixels. I filled it with white and moved the layer behind the image layer, making a white box around it. I rotated some parts to create a sense of movement, or at least askew-ness. I thought the part in the top right corner might give the impression of an axe, and maybe tilting the other oar might hint that the boat capsized.

I was hoping to create a sense of a boating accident or an impending one. I don’t think I got it though. There is some drama in the color, contrast and organization. It probably would have been better, or easier, to start with an image that would lend itself to the project, like something with more going on. But it did make me think about image and narrative and tension a bit, along with color and mood.

The way the generator interpreted the input was interesting. It gave views of a figure from behind, one from inside a boat and one of an empty boat. That seems like a fairly sophisticated way to deal with “picture yourself.” A frontal view, or one that showed part of the figure’s face, would be picturing someone else. I’m not sure if I’d describe the sky as marmalade, but it’s more marmalade than blue. The trees have a tangerine-ish color. One image had a treeful of tangerines. The lyric was somewhat metaphorical but not so much that the machine couldn’t predict from it.

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