Deep Forger turns photos into works of art

Deep Forger can recreate any image in the style of classic paintings, and the results have to be seen to be believed.

Google's DeepDream system caused a stir earlier in the year with its ability to take normal photos and magically transform them into nightmarish tableaux of horrifying mutant lizard dogs.

Naturally we loved it so much that we used it to create this terrifying quiz that challenges you to identify the famous designers from their DeepDreamed photographs, but now we've found something even better that works in a similar way to DeepDream but which won't leave you crying yourself to sleep because of all the ghastly freaks seared into your brain.

Developed by artificial intelligence expert Alex J Champanard, it's called Deep Forger and instead of generating Boschian nightmare fuel, it'll turn your photos into works of art. Working from an enormous library of iconic paintings by a host of famous artists, it uses a deep neural network to map out content patterns in an uploaded image, while looking for style patterns in a painting, and then it combines everything together using an optimisation algorithm to make a version of your uploaded image that's been recreated in the style of the painting.

Like any automated system the results can be a little hit or miss, but when it gets it right, Deep Forger's creations are absolutely staggering, turning ordinary snapshots into artistic masterpieces of all styles, from impressionistic daubs to dreamy watercolours, and with a roster of artists including Picasso, Van Gogh, Munch and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Our man McCauley's landscape photo got the AI Picasso treatment

Submitting a photo for the Deep Forger is easy: simply tweet it at @DeepForger and it'll go to work, getting back to you with a random forgery within a couple of hours. If you're choosy about your style of paintings, however, there are a few tags, commands and filters you can add to your tweet to steer Deep Forger in the right direction; for example if you have your heart set on a Van Gogh, simply add +Gogh to your tweet; find out more about these commands at the Deep Forger guide.

And if you want to encourage Deep Forger to get on with your picture a bit faster, follow it on Twitter and it'll try to prioritise you.

The end results are a little low-res because they take a lot of computation, but if you love your forged image and want a version that you can print out or use as desktop wallpaper, you can pay $9 for a high definition copy that also comes without the Deep Forger watermark.

Words: Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.

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