This spot-on AI Pokémon generator has me hooked

A collection of character Images created using AI Pokémon generator
(Image credit: Future / Lambda Labs)

The idea was that AI image generators would save us time and speed up creative workflows, but it turns out that they're very good at helping us waste time too. While AI art apps have been causing a lot of concern and controversy, now someone's now made an image synth with a brief so adorably specific that we can't not be 100% here for it.

Text-to-Pokémon is an image generator that does exactly what it says, using AI machine learning to let you create a brand new Pokémon from any description you type in, including the names of celebs and famous characters. We had to try it out, and we might not be doing anything else for the next few hours (to learn more about how such technology works, see our piece on how to use DALL-E 2).

A screenshot from Text-to-Pokemon

Text-to-Pokémon lets you enter any text input to create a unique Pokémon-style character (Image credit: Lambdal Labs)

Run with an API on Replicate, Lambda Labs' Text-to-Pokémon takes the AI image generator Stable Diffusion and trains it specifically on Pokémon. Type in a text prompt – it can be anything from a description to the name of a celebrity or even an inanimate object, and the model will generate a Pokémon-style character by drawing on its database of images and captions.

To create the model, the machine learning researcher Justin Pinkney took Stable Diffusion and fine tuned it by giving it further training on a more specific dataset – Pokémon. He trained the model on BLIP captioned Pokémon images with two NVIDIA RTX A6000 GPUs on the Lambda GPU Cloud for around 15,000 steps. 

"Stable Diffusion is a great generalist model, but getting a certain style of output is pretty tricky, it usually needs some serious "prompt engineering", he says. "Fine tuning the model itself is an easy approach to focus on just what you want, if you have some data."

As a result, this model has no need for "prompt engineering”, the practice of having to work on prompts and finely craft them to get a desired output with a particular style or appearance. Text-to-Pokémon (opens in new tab) will only generate Pokémon. And since this is open source Stable Diffusion, rather than say, the more restrictive DALL-E 2 with its rules against using famous people, we can go wild creating celebrity Pokémon too.

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As with all AI image generators, the output can be hit and miss, but it's hugely entertaining, and you can create as many Pokémon as you like based on whatever whim comes to you. Pinkney uses Yoda as an example on the site, and the Jedi seems an apt choice to turn into a Pokémon – he already has some signature moves. We tried it out with a range of prompts.

Images created with an AI Pokémon generator

Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Garfield, Madonna, Michael Johnson and SpongeBob SquarePants as Pokémon characters (Image credit: Future / Lambdal Labs)

You can also get more descriptive, so as well as trying celebrities we also tried "purple alien robotic bat". In most cases, it's done a fairly good job at creating what we asked of it so far – although it got a bit wild with SpongeBob SquarePants. For the best chance of getting one you like, choose “4” in the “num_outputs” field to generate four options instead of one.

The internet's already going crazy for the AI Pokémon generator. Here are a few of the creations shared on Twitter, from prompts ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog and Jesus Christ to kissing lesbians and users' own Twitter names.

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AI art generators are controversial. They can turn text prompts into images because they've been trained on thousands of combinations of existing images and captions. That's causing enough copyright concerns for Getty to ban AI content from its image library. Meanwhile, artists have cried foul after an AI-generated image won a fine art competition – apparently without the judges understanding how it was made.

Open-source AI models like Stable Diffusion have the benefit that anyone can tweak them to dream up fun tools like this Pokémon generator, but that ease of access has a murky side too, with the platform being used to create violent and sexual imagery. To learn more about the latest developments in AI art generators, read up on DALL-E 2 outpainting and check out these comparisons of the best AI art generators. We also have a roundup of the weirdest AI art.

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Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.