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How to use Google Arts and Culture to Transform your Photos into Works of Art

11th October 2020

Jacob Woolcock


In this short tutorial I’ll show you how you can use Art Transfer in the Google Arts and Culture app to transform your photographs into works of art. This isn’t just any old photo filter, Google Arts and Culture uses Machine Learning to analyse your photo and to apply brush strokes, colours and styles to your images. Learn how to apply the styles of dozens of different famous artists as well as how to refine your images even further.

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There’s a great feature in Google Arts and Culture that will use machine learning to transform your photographs into real-life works of art. Here’s how it works, and hey, if you find this tip useful, feel free to subscribe to my channel down below. There’s loads more iPad and iPhone tips just waiting for you over there.

To get started, I’m going to press the camera button at the bottom of my screen, and then I’m going to go to Art Transfer as my option. Oh, hello, it’s me. I don’t want to take a photo; I want to use one from my picture library, so I’m going to press on the picture browser at the bottom. From here, I’m going to navigate to a photo that I want to use, so I’m going to go to my favourites album and choose this lovely bird that I photographed last weekend.

And then at the bottom, you will see some different paintings. You can swipe through these and tap onto anyone you like. I’m going to choose The Scream by Edvard Munch, and you should notice that my picture of the bird suddenly becomes very, very different.

Just to reiterate here, what the app is doing is actually analyzing your photo, and it’s using machine learning to completely change your picture into the style of the artist you’ve chosen. It’s really, really clever.

We can try many different options to see what looks really good for our photo. Here’s The Great Wave, and let’s try some Van Gogh as well. You can actually customize this slightly more than perhaps you’re expecting as well. You can press that little icon on the top right-hand corner of your picture, and you can trace around the area you want the filter to be applying to. So, if I trace around the outline of my bird, the picture then will only change in that area.

You might find you want the opposite of this, however. So, for me, I want the background to change and the bird to stay as it was photographed. So, I’m going to press the little water droplet, and that will then invert my selection. Now, let’s swipe along, and let’s try Starry Night by Van Gogh to give my background to my photo those beautiful stars in the sky.

You’ll notice that the brush strokes trace around the bird beautifully, and it really is a customized piece of art based on my photo. To save this, I’m going to press the share button at the bottom, and then I can simply tap onto save. You can save it as a still picture, or if you’d like, you can do it as a GIF as well, so you can animate between the original photo and the edited piece of art.

Give it a try; it’s really clever, and share what you make on Twitter with the hashtag #ArtTransfer. I’d love to see.

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