Google’s Arts & Culture app is a good way to productively while away some time, loaded with interesting articles about art and all sorts of things. It’s also where those fun “art doppelganger” comparisons came from a few years back, and now it’s picking up another fun camera feature. A new AI-powered Art Transfer mode lets you apply filters generated from specific famous works of art to your own photos —with extra tools like masking for even more creative uses.
If you’re unfamiliar with the app, Google Arts & Culture is a bit of a sleeper hit, and one of my personal favorite apps from the company (right behind the Science Journal). Beyond fun camera tools like these, it’s something like an art blog, featuring things from simple lists, to how-tos, and plenty of in-depth dives when it comes to all sorts of subjects, from styles and periods to interviews. It’s like a museum in your pocket, and a much better way to spend a few free minutes than mindlessly scrolling on social feeds.
Using the new Art Transfer mode is a snap. Just tap the camera icon in the bottom center (added in an update last year) and select Art Transfer. You’ll be dumped to a basic square-framed camera interface. Snap the photo you want, and you get a side-scrolling carousel of effects based on famous works of art. Each is accompanied with a short description that tells you details about it (and you can tap the name of the filter for more information).
AI-powered filters included in Art Transfer are based on artwork including:
- Edvard Munch “The Scream”
- Frida Kahlo “Untitled (Self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird)”
- Wassily Kandinsky “Improvisation 26 (Rowing)”
- Vincent van Gogh “Self Portrait”
- Keith Haring “Free South Africa”
- Marc Chagall “Cena de Circo”
- Yaoyi KUSAMA “The heart of the universe”
- Andy Warhol “Self Portrait”
And loads more.
Once you’ve chosen one you like, you can also do a quick bit of masking, either highlighting or excluding objects in the scene from being processed, via the crop icon/tool at the top right. You don’t have to worry about being too precise, Google’s done a good job with it, and it’s able to determine foreground from background and distinguish objects with just a bit of help from you.
Full-size GIF resolution.
There’s also a GIF tab/mode, but it’s not terribly interesting. Sadly, it doesn’t make use of Motion Photos or anything like that, it just turns your still photo into an animation that switches back and forth between the original image and the filter-applied version. The resolution for GIFs is also terribly low.
The output resolution for static images is 1280×1280, and the quality isn’t the best. Though the attribution text at the bottom is nice and sharp, the rest of your image is going to be pretty blocky/artifacty/loaded with too much JPEG. I’m not sure if that’s due to how the AI filters work or some other issue, but you probably won’t be turning any of these into prints, and they won’t crop well.
These new filters might not make you into an artist, but they’ll definitely make for some fun photos, especially with the built-in masking tool. The feature is live in the Google Arts & Culture app now.