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So in case you haven't been in the loop, in the past 24 hours or so, Someone released a tool that uses a neural network to color anime lineart.   You can find it here:

It just takes a jpg image and starts the coloring process for you, depending on the quality of your input image and contents, the results could range from meh to pretty amazing.   Of course, you can specify colors and tweak it even further, and a lot of people have posted some really great looking results:

I have no doubt many people will use this to some effect or another.  In fact, I think if this tool was released two years I might not have even bothered trying to seriously learn to color, since it'd be so convenient in comparison and my focus was more on making manga.   There's a lot of people who stick with pencils and pens, but find digital hard to get into, or traditional colors too messy.  This tool would allow them to finally get to see their own works in color.   Others might put it in their digital workflow, or let it take over their digital coloring completely.

The question is, would this be considered cheating?

To answer that question, we'd have to examine what are some cases that can be considered cheating right now.   The one that most people immediately think of is probably tracing.   Generally most people can agree tracing is cheating, especially if you present it as your own work.  The next one that comes up a lot is copying.  However, already we're starting to get into a grey area.  All fanart is basically copying the design and ideas of a popular franchise, so a lot of copying is already accepted.   The times where drama seems to flare up is when the copy is too close to a well known work of another artist or official merchandise, such as copying the entire composition in addition to the characters.  Some popular artists have ran into a bit of trouble when passing these 'studies' off as their own work, but it seems as long as you reference your source and don't try to profit off of it, its acceptable.  

1485565894420 by RobotCatArt

However, this tool doesn't really fall into the former 2 categories, but instead its more comparable to a photoshop tool or shortcut.  For example, many artists use custom brushes to make their workflow much faster.   Why draw every strand or rock crack when your brush takes care of the grunt work for you?   Or the use of applying existing photo textures, a very common and accepted technique.  Photobashing is straight up taking photos and cutting them up and putting them into your composition, and using layers, filters, and color adjusters, in combination with some digital painting touchup to make a completely new work, and is considered standard practice in the concept art industry.

So back to our original question.  Is using this filter cheating, or is some level of use okay?  I mean, if someone straight up says they colored it, but used the tool 100%, then I'd consider that cheating, but if they disclose they used the tool to color it, then it would it be okay?  What if they used it, but then altered it by hand in addition to the AI coloring, like in photobashing, or altered it significantly so it becomes more or a reference?   Would it be okay for them to say they painted it?  Or  they'd have to disclose they used it in some way during the coloring process?

I can already see a few uses I might have for it.  For example, it seems to be able to calculate a very aesthetically pleasing color palette, while introducing a bunch of additional hues that fit your overall color scheme.  It'd be extremely useful for setting up scenes or color profiles to get really interesting colors as a base reference:

1485555411481 by RobotCatArt

Also, someone already made a short animation with the tool:

I really do want to try my hand at animating portions of VRO, and having it be colored automatically would save so much time.   Of course I'd disclose my use of it.

Right now it seems the neural network was most trained on pastel type coloring, but in the future other coloring styles would become readily available.  I can easily see this tool becoming a standard filter in the next version of Photoshop or Clip Studio Paint.  When it does, it'd become widespread pretty quickly, and I'm sure there will be some huge schism on the digital artist scene regarding its use.   

What do you guys think? Is it cheating? Or just another tool in a digital artist's arsenal?


I read through everyone's comments, that sure took longer than I expected.  It seems people are pretty split regarding whether using the tool is cheating or not.  However, most people agree that credit should be given if you do use the tool.   A few comments brought up 'collaboration', which is a viewpoint I hadn't considered.   There's also the issue of commissions, which make thing a lot more complicated.  

Either way, it seems like as AI become more prevalent, thinks will be shaken up in ways we might not be able to control.

Skin by SimplySilent
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howjustrightxxo Featured By Owner 15 hours ago  Hobbyist Interface Designer
hey nice article
Krinmu Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
A little bit late to the party, but I don't think you would really define it as cheating as long as you credit the ai.

The only thing I'm really worried about is that weather or not we can distinguish the difference between hand drawn and AI as technology keeps on advancing. If the difference between AI and hand drawn truly disappears, that's when I think that things are getting to out of hand because there are people who honestly want to get recognized by their way of coloring and art. Of course this is just my opinion, but it would definitely make me feel better if someone can look at a painting and tell it was painted by an AI or by hand. I feel like the AI should be kept to around nothing to detailed, because if it starts interfering with very stylized coloring styles of certain artists, that's where I draw the line.

But I do think that it's a really neat tool to help express something quickly, but I don't think it's something you should use all the time if you truly want to keep that traditional or maybe even professional feel.

I feel like a similar debate started when digital art was becoming more widespread too, but even though traditional paintings may be a thing of the past, you still give them recognition (Like have you seen those Star Wars concept arts that where traditionally painted. F***** amazing)

Happy arting!
Weissboard Featured By Owner Edited Feb 21, 2017
When I buy something, I go by the final result. I do not know if you hand painted it or used a computer. all I go by is whether I like it or not. I'm not an artist, so doesn't make sense to advise, just appreciate.

Looks like a fun tool, but I may be missing something here. Is there  a way to download the result to your PC or do you have to post it to Twitter?
JaliosWilinghart Featured By Owner Edited Feb 19, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I dont think its cheating at all. Not even close. This great advancement can bring much more good than harm. Just like the elevator, the bike, and Photoshop. All can be argued to only be "tools of the lazy", but in reality they can all be great tools for people to not only improve their lives, but also give them abilities they would not else have at all.

I, as well as anyone else, should have respect for skill. But just imagine how many more people can show their artistic visions and works with this tech? Art is not about limiting it to only a few being able to properly express themselves according to their vision. Living, breathing, art, is about not just one doing so. But many. This can free up many artists to be able to express themselves, as they have yearned for. Life is too beautiful to be limited for only the few to express it to be so.
CRUMVIII Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2017
This is the most amazing thing I've seen in the last few months. <3
Night-hearted Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting. Neural networks are starting to get better and better every year, and it's possible that one day they might even be able to create their own artwork of a professional quality and replace human artists entirely. O_o For now, though, I could see how this would be immensely useful in applications such as animation. Maybe someone will start working on a neural net that is able to do in-betweens given a few key frames.
Sakuchu Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know if I'd consider this cheating, but I know I wouldn't want to use it since it's just no fun? lol
At least I enjoy coloring most about the whole artwork process lol

But I can see how this can be very convenient for producing fast results, especially for animation. (which is a rather tedious task if you decide to color everything on your own.)
Shadowwright Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  New Deviant
The A.I. should be given the credit for coloring your art for you.
Shiwakura Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cheating what? It's just a tool, which is something that aids in accomplishing/completing a task, the only way I could consider this cheating it would be if someone uses it in a colouring competition or something like that.
Tinseii Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017  New Deviant
I know this journal was posted a few days ago but I do consider this cheating since many of us struggle (and are still struggling) for years to get our colouring to where we want it 
r2om Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
For a product stand point....Party on!!
KurouKoutarou Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017  New Deviant Student Traditional Artist
I wouldn't take this as cheating, it's pretty convenient especially if you don't have the luxury to buy expensive markers just to make your art look half-decent (from a digital artists perspective it might be a different story)
onyxrose777 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
ok...I FINALLY got a chance to play with this program and I am going to say ... no.  This is not cheating.  The reason why I say no is because in a more complex drawing it is going to take a lot of editing and user input to get the lighting, mood and effects just right.  I'm still a pretty novice digital artist, but when I used a more complex sketch (keep in mind, it is a very rudimentary sketch) the results are utter crap!  This could be due to my lack of digital skill or my inexperienced color choices, but if I were to "finish" this sketch on my would come out a lot better than what I made with that program.  This is not to say that the results weren't pretty impressive, it is still nothing more than a tool.  The sketch I used was this one:  Furrier Things by onyxrose777    
Hih0shi Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
It's not perfect, and if I spent more time it could come out pretty good, but:…
Kayozera Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Omgosh. This is crazy!
MahouShoujoIceStar Featured By Owner Edited Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think it's cheating, because art is a culmination or all of your skill and hard work.

This AI objectively knows where to put everything, which means that you are not using any critical thinking, at all, in the process.

How will you learn to manipulate light and shadow, colour and hue, if you already have a tool doing all of it for you.

Art is a constant learning process, and if you're not learning, then you're not getting better.
Sylverstone14 Featured By Owner Edited Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
It has its uses, but over-reliance on the tool will probably lead to complacency if the artist doesn't really know much about coloring.

If anything, it looks like a nice launchpad.
Hebigami-Okami-77 Featured By Owner Edited Feb 1, 2017  Student General Artist
It's a great tool, but it's not so much cheating that I'm concerned with because that's quite a grey area, but rather the following:

1. Laziness.  People who do colour their own work most certainly do not learn overnight nor do they take shortcuts.  They have to learn and practice, practice, practice.  My own colouring is not perfect - definitely not compared to this - but comparing my digital colouring when I first started on DA to now, I'm still very proud of where I've grown and developed and fully intend to learn more.  The tool is amazing, but at the same time, it can make people lazy.  Thus, when the time comes and the tool is not available, they can no longer draw, colour or even showcase their skills.

2. Lack of knowledge for the actual art.  Can also fit with laziness - actually learning the concepts and purposes of shading, lighting and colour theory takes time and dedication.  Artists don't just pop out overnight - not even the artists during Impressionist, Renaissance or Surrealist periods just immediately become sensations.  There's a reason why majority of the masters of art are presented as older gentlemen (i.e. Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Salvidor Dali, etc.) - they take years to craft and perfect their trade.  Somehow, I feel like the tool is undermining all their hard work.

3. Loss of jobs.  Because if this tool is here, what's then the point of digital artists who actually do what they like for a living? Upload, click and there - you get a pretty picture.  As a result, that can lead to the loss of jobs for those who want to make a living out of their passion.

4. Lack of individuality and variety.  From my observation, the colouring style is very similar - a softer and lighter palette that leans towards pastel colours even.  What makes art so amazing is the range and variety it has.  Anyone can do art since it can come in many different forms.  So to present the same sort of thing over and over again will eventually get boring and thus raise the question - what's the point of digital art if it all looks the same? Wouldn't you want some variety? 
albrecht995 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Loss of jobs would be the big one worry I'd see as well once this thing got more varied and more accurate.  Unfortunately tech keeps coming up with ways to need less people in the mix.  In cinematography they are beginning to come out with 'fly' cameras that can take a shot at several different focal points and allow you to choose the focus of the image in post.  Which sounds cool but completely eliminates the need for a focus puller which is basically what a 1st AC does.
Hebigami-Okami-77 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2017  Student General Artist
Loss of jobs is actually a very frightening one - imagine the look on some of these aspiring artist's faces when told, "We don't need you.  We have this.  Be on your way."  They're essentially being dropped or denied wanting to make their passion for a living.  Even if someone says, "Just make your own business!" It's not at all that easy.  

Ouch, really? Feeling pretty bad for those 1st AC's.  :(
May-I-Tutchem Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2017  Professional General Artist
I think its useful for when you're pressed for time and you need to get something completed fairly quickly, or helping with creating a good color scheme. Otherwise, it is kind of cheating.
t-4-v-0 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Student General Artist
in fact im gonna start using that xD
LOL im too lazy to color my stuff
Gingerbreadbirdy Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Hobbyist
Seems like just a means to an end if you ask me.
firesparkes Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Professional General Artist
I don't forsee this tool actually teaching anyone anything about color theory. In that regard, I think it's a bad thing. It's important to understand fundamentals, regardless of what tools you actually choose to use in your artwork or not. It's like learning to run before you can walk, or building a house on a shoddy foundation.
DTJB Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Rather than cheating, this leans more towards the category of lazy.

I can see the benefits of using this program, especially if someone is stumped on what colors to use to make everything aesthetically pleasing, along with the fact that personal tweaks can be made as you mentioned, but if an artist abuses this tool to do the work for them without any thought, I think that lacks genuine creativity.  If all an artist does is push a button to make the decisions for them, then the artist isn't utilizing their own personal vision and they're not challenging themselves to develop their potential.

Used in moderation, sure.  Otherwise it's not really creative.

By the way, that first pic is Fuuka from Persona, am I right?
FelinusRex Featured By Owner Edited Jan 30, 2017
Wow. This is kind of amazing (and expected in a weird way).

The fact that facial recognition software has been advanced enough for a while now to fill in partial faces would seem to point to AI being eventually capable of the task of coloring in outlines. That doesn't surprise me much. The fact that "artists" would consider adopting it as a tool is the surprising and disappointing part for me. It's not that the artist isn't personally responsible for the work: interns and apprentices have been doing that for centuries now. It's that a lot of the "joy" of making art is in the doing, and that disappears when the "doing" is a push of a button. It's a bit like foreplay with the happy O left to someone else, very capitalistic and detached. 

I'm sure this type of thing will become immensely popular, especially with Americans. 

eo84 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I find it interesting as it will sort of give some guidance to those who are weak in colour.

However I dont find it cheating as the quality is far inferior than any trained artist quality. But eventually this tech will be adapted into app or art software as a feature.
Mister-Jackson Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Nahh, It's a tool just like anything else. Like all tools though you definitely don't want to be hindered by the thing, so learning to color is still your best bet. Honestly though if you look deep enough into fine art and art history there has always been this sort of thing. The flemish used a form of lense to project things onto canvas and painted what they saw to great effect, and today people copy paste and rearrange things in photoshop.

If anything not using the tool is dumb, on the other hand learning to not have to use it or build upon it is just a good. Fundamentally I think the idea is to get to the point where you don't have to rely on the tool in order to make good work.
themagicalpinata Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017
I like to draw concept images for the stories I write, but cannot colour worth shit... this tool is a blessing (which is odd because I paint Warhammer plastic models quite nicely). 

Funny thing is I use machine learning (artificial intelligence) in my career, where I use it to identify patterns in resistance to chemotherapy in breast cancer. I am all for the machine, but know there are many who are a stick in the mud when it comes to this kind of change (and can respect their view/opinion).

Thanks for sharing!
TheTacoGirl Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
how does it work?
Norski Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Is this cheating? My opinion is - yes, and no. It depends on what can reasonably be expected in a given situation.


If someone asked me to do an oil painting, make a digital scan of the piece, and send the digital copy - - - in principle, I could use software to create a three dimensional scene, render that from a suitable perspective, then use other software to make the render look as if it had been painted in oils. That, I think, would be cheating: and a really bad idea.

One time followed a process something like the first example, with the finished product looking more than a little like an inked graphite-pencil drawing. I was doing that for myself, never claimed that it was a traditional artwork, but didn't specify the steps I took to make it. I do not think that was cheating, since the piece was intended as an illustration for a bit of fiction: and I doubt that a reasonable person would expect that artwork of that sort had to be produced in a particular way.

For your purposes: I don't know the anime/manga/animation culture very well. If there is a deep-seated assumption that *all* work done must be created using a particular method: I suppose deviating from those expectations would be considered cheating. I also think that, if that is the case, the assumptions are long overdue for re-appraisal.

My own take, for art which is intended primarily to be enjoyed by folks who are not fanatic devotees of some particular process, is that what matters is how the art looks when it's done. How the artist gets there should be up to the artist - - - provided that minimal ethical standards are followed. The latter shouldn't be an issue in this case, since I gather than using an AI to color your art does not involve human sacrifice or slave labor.

If AI ever get civil rights: that's another topic. ;)
Norski Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Briefly, cheating?? *This* is a *question????!* The results look good, and I assume that you're savvy enough to look at what the AI does, doing post-work as needed to make the results look good.
Graycchi Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Student General Artist
this will definetly affect the whole digital art world, and if they make more styles for it, it will actually be very helpful for animations and comics (where there's a LOT to do) plus taking into consideration that you do need skill to use the program, I don't see any problem with it being used, even for comissions (as long as the price reflects the effort, obviously) as long as everything is stated up front ("used paintschainer for coloring" or smth)
smolgrump Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Student General Artist
I honestly see this as a shortcut, a bad one depending on if you rely on it for everything and don't take the time to actually study and pratice color. But the fact that you can tweak colors suggests that you'd need some knowledge on what looks good.
Quivscor Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  New Deviant Student General Artist
that's amazing
Shen-fn-Woo Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
This has probably been said already, but if if photography is considered an acceptable form of art and no credit needs to be given to that which you've taken a picture of, nor is it considered cheating having a tool that simply captures an image rather than you yourself creating it, then this AI coloring tool is completely legit.  I don't care how much time and effort, or skill you put into pushing that little button to make sure you capture that image correctly.  It took time and skill and effort to press the little button for the AI to color my artwork :).  Hey, not everyone can do it - technicalities work both ways, how do you like it when such logic is used against you, photography "artists"? 

On the other hand, if you do NOT consider photography or any other form of capturing an image (if there exists any) artwork, then feel free to disregard that standpoint.  You would then be correct - any form of tool assistance with your art outside of your being responsible for creating the image would be considered cheating.
MahouShoujoIceStar Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ouch, don't cut yourself on that edge there, kid.
Shen-fn-Woo Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Of COURSE the person with a shitload of attention getting useless stamps and widgets on her DA user page that tell what she personally likes would have something to say about statement, because, if her page is anything to go by, she believes everyone gives a flying fuck about her opinion, right? 

I'd love to debate, but I'm quite sure you'll be the one forfeiting after a few back and forths (probably contemplating right now to forgo the endeavor just because I mentioned it). 

And me?  A kid?  Bitch, I'm your father.  RESPEK
MahouShoujoIceStar Featured By Owner Edited Feb 4, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aaand now I know you have autism. GG.

PS: Thanks for the new copypasta. Reddit'll love it.
Shen-fn-Woo Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Bitch with a name like MahouShoujoIceStar is accusing another person of having autism....  Adding this to my list of shockers of Jan 2017.
Shen-fn-Woo Featured By Owner Edited Feb 4, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
And just like the picture perfect textbook of responses dictates, she blocked me and ran away.  Predictable fucktards, all of them.

Why the hell do people find it fit to start an arguement with someone and not even fucking finish?  If you didn't want to speak to someone who you know is not going to change their opinion, why bother talking in the first place?
MahouShoujoIceStar Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Anyway, I'm not in a trolling mood, so have fun. Have a good day.
GreenAngel5 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm gonna say...this would be in the gray area where it concerns 'cheating'. Granted I'm traditional artist; so I'm seeing it as a 'skip' avenue for digital artist. Like how alot of digital artist have their own 'brushes' and 'textures'. I'm seeing it like that.
As long as credit is also stated, I don't see how it would 'anger' anyone or make them think that their cheating
jpeg96 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017
idk this kind of scares me lol
CoolioHorse Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMG that is amazing!!!

Also, I think that in the second drawing one of the girls looks like Rukia from Bleach... :D

nzao Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017
I want the kind of AI which would draw absolutely everything for me from scratch, send art to clients, receive money, invest them into markets, build army of robots to capture the World and most importantly - would feed my cat nonstop. So all I would need to do is just sit and eat ice-cream.. or maybe nap.. :o (Eek)  idk, its hard to choose you know Meow :3 
Veratai Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
well, this is a nice tool for those who keep saying that they can't draw/color at all x3 or for the industry, but'd guess it needs to be quite more refined
Scorpiosa-x Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If I can react to the update, in additionnal with commission, support through patreon will had some trouble for those who want to use the tool... everything which bring money on the table will be reconsider :/
I wonder if digital illustrators who work for advertising, make logo or something like this will see their job taken by this sort of tool...
And I was thinking for those who want to make a comic, manga, etc... Do they need to pass through a redraw or coloring service before print their book? May it will be the start of a quick cheap coloring for manga which are B&W for the moment... I think this program will change definitly the way we see the digital art... May traditional art will take more importance until they make a cheap robot which can draw with a pen on paper...
AngedeCristal Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
J'me dis la même chose XD

Pi je rajouterai :

C'est cool pour faire un dessin rapide fissa genre référence et tout ou encore pour tester différent jeu de couleur sans devoir tout refaire à chaque fois, c'est un super gain de temps pour un résultat pas dégueulasse, mais y'en a qui vont forcément l'utiliser sans le dire for MONEY EASY MONEY.
Et là, ça devient problématique. Déjà, le client se fait berner, mais en plus, on va douter de la sincérité des artistes qui font du digi : il fait lui même où il triche ?

Sans compter que le(s) style(s) de colo fourni(s) par le logiciel va/vont devenir répétitif(s), donc ptete lassant si les gens se servent du truc en masse, et ouai, l'art au digital va perdre de l'intérêt.

*Et là tu te dis que t'es bien content d'avoir ton style à toi en digi, personne pourra t'accuser de tricher :')*
Scorpiosa-x Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Bah oui... Les abus vont être plus simples et ca va mettre un nouveau terrain de méfiance envers les artistes, ca les penalise vachement :'( et le pauvre type qui a exactement le style utilisé par le logiciel va se faire totalement rouler dessus :'(

Aussi, c'est très possible... :-/ faut voir jusqu'où le logiciel est capable d aller...

Haha haha XD c'est sur ^_~ et la ils sortent le module "Angedecristal" ET BIIIIM dans les dents X'D
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