AI is Already replacing Illustrators In China

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence has left many individuals concerned about the future of their careers, with the illustration sector being one of the largest industries expected to feel the impact of AI. AI image generation tools, such as Dall-E, Stable Diffusion, and Mid Journey, can now produce illustrations nearly indistinguishable from those created by human artists. One notable development is the first manga drawn entirely using AI technology.

ai replacing mangaka illustrator
This image is generated by AI

Rest of World recently interviewed freelance illustrator Amber Yu, who disclosed that large Chinese gaming companies have begun utilizing AI to generate game illustrations. Previously, Amber could earn between 3,000 and 7,000 yuan ($430 to $1,000) for each video game poster she created. This process involved using Adobe Photoshop to create sketches and then add outlines and colors. She once spent an entire week crafting an image of a woman in traditional Chinese attire.

However, Amber Yu has observed a decline in illustration jobs as gaming companies turn to AI software that can produce similar drawings in mere seconds. These companies now offer only a small fee for artists to fix minor issues, such as awkward body parts or oddly positioned hands.

Xu Yingying, an illustrator at an independent game art studio in China, has also experienced the effects of AI on the industry. Her studio creates game designs for major Chinese gaming companies, and she has seen five of her 15 fellow illustrators specializing in game design lose their jobs this year. Xu believes that the rise of AI image generation is at least partly responsible for these layoffs.

The quality of AI-generated art has become so exceptional that some illustrators are considering leaving the industry altogether, according to Rest of World. One game artist, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of employer retaliation, lamented, “Our way of making a living is suddenly destroyed.”

Several gaming companies are even encouraging their employees to incorporate AI into their work processes. For instance, at Xu’s studio, AI generators create clothing and accessories based on human-illustrated character sketches. Another game artist mentioned that while human illustrators used to create a scene or character within a day or two, AI now allows them to generate 40 designs in a single day for their supervisors to select from. This has led to heightened competition and longer working hours among colleagues, as many fear losing their jobs.

Nevertheless, some artists are resisting the encroachment of AI-generated art, arguing that these image-generation tools are trained on millions of images from artists who never granted permission for their work to be used in training AI generators.

The Implications of AI on the Animation Industry: Will Animators be Replaced?

As the field of artificial intelligence continues to evolve at a rapid pace, its potential impact on various industries, including animation, remains uncertain. With the improvement of computer-generated imagery (CGI) techniques, an increasing number of studios are now integrating these methods into their workflow, as they tend to be faster and more cost-effective than traditional 2D animation.

While some fear that AI might replace animators, it is essential to consider the potential benefits this technology can bring to the industry. For instance, AI image generation could prove invaluable for manga artists, or mangakas, who often face tight deadlines. By utilizing AI-based illustration software, these artists can generate quick sketches, allowing them to focus on crafting compelling stories and character development.

Moreover, AI can serve as a complementary tool to enhance the creative process rather than as a direct replacement for animators. By automating certain repetitive tasks, AI can free up animators’ time and energy, enabling them to concentrate on the more nuanced aspects of their craft, such as refining character emotions and expressions or experimenting with innovative artistic styles.

Source: Rest of World

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