The Demon’s Paintbrush

Sweet Lord, my Genetic Algorithms course has ended. The giant pile of work is now behind me. I have to say that despite the large amount of work, the course has been one of the most rewarding in recent memory. There are a lot of exciting ideas in this field. The course instructor is David E. Goldberg, who is an influential luminary in the field.

For the course project, I decided to return to my decades-old interest in graphics programming by developing a genetic artwork program. The basic idea was to “breed” new images by figuring out which images in a random population are better than others. I needed a way to rank which images were better than others. Inspired by Flickr’s concept of interestingness, I decided to use color comparisons to popular images from as a way to rank images. An image that has a close match in color to a popular or interesting Flickr image is given a high rank. The genetic algorithm runs over successive generations to produce images with higher ranking. Eventually I got a lot of good results, and then a scary demon appeared:

Picture 69.jpg

The picture on the left is the Flickr image that the generated images resembled most. Lower numbers mean higher rankings. Look at 392. The demon got 4th place! Maybe that’s why he looks angry.

Here are some other interesting results I got with the demon’s paintbrush. Click to get to a more detailed writeup, including the many thousands of generated results:

UPDATE: Click here to see some giant tiled montages of artwork generated by the technique.

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