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Art Transfer by Google lets you apply famous artists’ styles to your own photos

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A new feature in Google’s Arts & Culture app allows you to turn your boring old photos into works of art — or at least, reasonable approximations — the company announced in a blog post. Instead of creating an overlay on your original image or blending it with an image of an artwork, Art Transfer “kicks off a unique algorithmic recreation of your photo inspired by the specific art style you have chosen,” according to Google.

Here’s how to use it: open the camera menu in the Arts & Culture app, and select “Art Transfer.” After taking or uploading a photo, choose what style you want to apply to your image. The process doesn’t require uploading the image to the cloud, and you can pick artist styles like Vincent van Gogh, Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, and others.

My dog, Zelda, cooperated beautifully to help demonstrate:

Zelda the dog styled as (clockwise from top) a van Gogh, a Monet, a da Vinci, and a Krasner.
Photo by Kim Lyons / The Verge

The Arts & Culture app has been available since 2016. It offers a combination of information on artists and art history and boasts an impressive catalog of artwork. The app’s earlier selfie-matching feature, which let you compare your face to famous works of art, was a huge hit in 2018.

Art Transfer includes “styles” based on artworks from the UK’s National Gallery, Japan’s MOA Museum of Art, and other cultural institutions, and includes artists like Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Edvard Munch, and Leonardo da Vinci. It’s similar to last year’s ai.portraits, which used a widget built by researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, which let users apply a similar artistic transformation to their photos. But unlike that site, Art Transfer can do more than selfies.

And with Art Transfer, you don’t have to upload your image to the cloud; the effect is applied on your device, thanks to artistic style transfer, a neural net that allows the creation of a new image, or pastiche, that’s based on two input images: one that represents the artistic style desired and the original image. In the above images of my very cute dog, I saved it to Google Photos first to create that grid collage.

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