The Evolution of Carol

AI art is harder to make than you would think.

You go to Stable Diffusion for the first time, type in a random prompt like, “A horse galloping through the woods,” and get back a picture that actually looks pretty cool.

So you play around a lot more, until your confidence is bolstered enough that you start to think that you can create something specific — to approximate a solid idea that you have in mind.

And that’s where the trouble starts.

I decided that I wanted to create a character portrait of Carol, from The Scion Suit/The Scions.

My first attempt, anime style:

… Okay, I’ll give it a few more tries …

By which point, I realized that simply describing the woman I wanted a picture of wasn’t going to be enough. AI doesn’t have the same intrinsic grasp of human anatomy and faces that we do.

I joined a Discord server and did a lot of reading.

A LOT of reading.

And I quadrupled the number of keywords I was using, to include things like, “Normal face,” and “Not disfigured.”

Highlights include:

Waaaaay better, but not even close to my end goal. Too glamorous and sunkissed for Carol.

Anatomy is still off. Also seems a little vampirish.

Hair is too short.

Now we’re starting to get it.

I liked the picture, but I decided to change art styles to see if I could better grasp the essence of Carol. And I like anime, so, you know … 😀

I’m still amazed that the face isn’t horribly wrong. But it’s not quite there — the woman is too doll-like to really be Carol.


All told, it probably would have been easier and faster to draw a character portrait if I had the art skillz — but I don’t. I generated dozens of pictures, most of which I didn’t save, and probably spent more time on it than it would have taken to paint it in photoshop.

But, truth be told, I enjoyed the process quite a bit. I think very strongly in words, and my brain turned it into a puzzle game of figuring out which words in which order would produce the best results. My final change was to swap out the keyword, “Shy,” for “Demure,” which gave the right tilt to the eyebrows and mouth for her expression.

And thus, I give you, Carol.

2 thoughts on “The Evolution of Carol”

  1. Fascinating! It never even occurred to me how useful this could be for writers who lack drawing skills. I’m definitely in that category. Although AI drawing people also kind of disturbs me, so it may take me a while to test it out. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the AI distinguishes between drawing a human and drawing a tree — though the human has those confusing worm thingys on the end of their limbs, and the AI can’t always remember how many there are supposed to be, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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