Japan Media Arts Festival  

Entertainment Division

Excellence Award



YONETSUJI Taizan [Japan]

© 2017- Preferred Networks, inc.


PaintsChainer is a web application that automatically colors uploaded drawings using AI. Three types of anthropomorphized AI can be chosen from, coloring models called: “Tanpopo,” a soft, pale gradient; “Satsuki,” a uniform gradation of color; and “Canna,” a coloring of highlights and shadows appearing against a strong background. After automatic coloring, the user can further change the color tone as he or she wishes by manipulating coloring. The web application also has a function that turns rough sketches such as pencil drawings into line drawings. For instance, it is capable of snapping a photo of a drawing sketched in a notebook, turning the photo into a line drawing, and then adding color. The service significantly changes the production method of illustrations and manga for both professionals and amateurs. PaintsChainer was accessed a million times within days after being released and has been used by people from around the world. The developer, YONETSUJI Taizan created this service using neural networks and applying a deep convolutional generative adversarial network (DCGAN) algorithm. The open source program has become the subject of research as an example of the latest in the eld of machine learning. 


It goes without saying that the foundation forming the strengths of Japan’s content industry is the culture of doujin (hobbyist) creations that relies on uniquely evolved manga and anime-like design stylizing. In a significant achievement, that vast accumulation has been turned into training data learned by AI as patterns of “similar illustrations” to produce a support platform capable of automatic coloring that can be utilized by anyone as an online service. Historically, Japanese manga developed under primarily black-and-white publications, and coloring is one of the biggest hurdles in amateur illustration. By helping with that process, not only does the web application contribute to production of artwork, but it also enables visual presentation even of drawings that are almost casual doodles. Currently, this service is the nest example of breathing life into drawings as expressions of communication. This example of technology clearing the way for new fertile fields in an environment where communication and creativity inherently mingle harks back to the birth of HATSUNE Miku. (NAKAGAWA Daichi) 

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