Art Generator Software
Art Generator Software*
Image from Keith Wigdor and Midjourney AI
AGS is a class of software that allows users to easily create visual art. Using an art generator is as simple as describing a scene to the software package, or using some other prompts such as photograph, video clips or pre-existing artworks. Using these prompts as inspiration, the software will then proceed to generate an image. If the generated image is unsatisfying, the user can edit the scene by offering clarifications. A sophisticated AGS system can create a piece of art which reflects the user's requirements by anticipating their needs, adding subtle nuances to match the user's descriptions, even if they are relatively vague. The end result is somewhat generic but functional art. AG software can also be used to edit pre-existing art that is fed into it.

The core of this type of software is a library of pre-packaged objects and templates, and a description interpreter — typically a simple expert system but specialized AI may be used in more powerful packages. The interpreter can handle a wide variety of inputs, depending on who the intended users are — verbal descriptions, body language, memory uploads, tactile sensations, and a plethora of other communication methods and data encodings. AGS systems, depending on their sophistication, gradually adapt to the preferences of their owner as they are used, and learn to understand and even predict their requirements.

AG software is a mature technology in the modern terragen sphere, with the earliest versions dating back to the Information Age. AGS packages of one type or another are a standard feature of general purpose computing devices, and in some societies employing DNI, generated images are a standard part of any communication. As such, there are some functions that almost any art generator has:
- In order to produce convincing art (taking things such as lighting and perspective in account), art generator software generates every image as a 3D scene internally. As such, even the simplest versions of the software can render 3D scenes as easily as 2D ones.
- While the typical AGS package is capable of producing realistic scenes it is not limited to them — it can produce art in a wide variety of styles, and convert it from one style to another.
- Most can analyze preexisting works of art done in an unknown style and then mimic it in the future.

More complex versions have the ability to create video works and virch environments. In order to deal with additional demands of these mediums, these versions contain a library of sounds (and other sensory inputs), and ability to manipulate them in the same way the basic AGS manipulates visual objects. This kind of advanced Art Generator Software forms the basis of most user-friendly Virchbuilder technology used by modosophonts to create Virtual Reality Environments for their own use.

Automated procedural generation can be used to create large virtual environments, but the development of these environments and particular details can be controlled by an AGS verbal or direct neural interface. One particularly popular method of interfacing with art generator software is by the use of smart paint; the artist can create an image using a paintbrush, stylus, airbrush tool or even their own fingers or other appendages; the smart paint then responds to the painted image by adding detail, correcting mistakes and adding procedurally-generated backgrounds, either autonomously or with input from the artist via a variety of methods.

One advantage of using autonomous AGS is that an arbitrary number of alternate images can be generated at the same time, and the artist is able to choose the one they prefer; often the artist will choose elements from several different versions, which can be combined seamlessly by the software.


The earliest versions of art generator software emerged in the Information Age serving as support tools for games and virtual realities of the time, helping less tech-savvy users build their own avatars and add content. They only produced art in a single style, but the ability to create through simple verbal descriptions was well received by the users, so stand-alone versions soon appeared on the market.

Because of the very generic appearance of the art produced by early versions of AGS, there were many critics, especially professional artists, who claimed such software was culturally harmful and otherwise unsuited for anything but most trivial purposes. The criticism had little lasting effect, as the use of such software spread quickly among amateurs and casual users. These users, when snubbed by the critics, generated their own prizes and cultural recognition methods that bypassed the then-traditional critics. The use of generated images as visual aids in written works and descriptions became especially widespread. As the use of AGS became common, professional artists started using it to handle their commissions: an approximate version of the client's demand would be finalized with AGS, and the artist would use that as a basis for producing actual works.

Art Generator Software
Image from Steve Bowers
Smart paint responds to the user's wishes by adding detail and style to painted artworks as they are being painted
At the same time, specialized AGS packages (called 'toolkits' at the time) were incorporated in popular franchises, allowing fans to produce fan-works with the same visual style used in the work itself. Over time, the format in which these styles were stored in was standardized, allowing several general-purpose AGS packages to simply import relevant templates and gain the ability to produce art in the style specified. Desires to bypass the often expensive copyrighted styles fueled the development of 'mimics', which could produce a simulacrum of a particular art style simply by analyzing a number of artworks that utilized it. Though media corporations attempted to outlaw such tools, it proved technologically and legally impossible to enforce a ban on them.

The large number of pornographic or hyper-violent imagery that anonymous users produced with AGS packages caused deep controversy at the time, and there were numerous motions to mandate installation of restrictions and safeguards into them to curtail such use. Such measures proved futile at the time, as unrestricted versions could be easily obtained. Memetic solutions proved to be far more effective than technical ones in restricting questionable use.

In time, professional versions of art software began including AGS as a component of itself — these software tools allowed artists to produce the basic framework with minimal effort, and then provided additional tools to modify this 'raw footage' into a piece of art they had in mind. A profession of 'style artist' emerged at this time, describing people who did not produce individual works, but rather invented different styles or art and then sold them as AGS templates.
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Development Notes
Text by Domagoj K.
additional material by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 01 May 2009.

Image by early, but real art generation software (Midjourney AI) with prompts/direction by Keith Wigdor, added April 2023.