Coming from a lineage containing what I consider “real” artists, I could not, for years, give myself any mercy or permission to create anything. None of my creations would have any value, so why bother?
Then, I reconsidered the word “value.”
And I started creating things, random things.
- I went to a couple of drink-wine-and-paint classes.
- I made a photo book of my family’s Kauai vacation pictures.
- I made a pottery bowl for a charity organization.
- I crocheted a Christmas tree garland for my friend, Julia.
- I sewed together old t-shirts into a quilt for my husband.
Some of the random things turned out nicely, and others, well, I enjoyed the wine.
I discovered that I love being artistic. It activates a part of my brain that had been snoozing all of my life.
I have often written that motivation follows action. People who wait for inspiration before doing a task are going to be waiting a long, long time.
My artistic exploits in the past decade have similarly taught me that creating creates creativity. Those of us who wait to be deemed “creative” before creating anything are going to be in the same waiting room as the folks mentioned above.
So, I give you the following guest post from my dear friend, Julia. Yes, the same recipient of the tree garland crochet thingy. Julia is artistic AND skilled with technology.
If you wish to create some creativity in your life, below is a place to start.
Creating a personalized coloring book using AI
Guest post by: Julia Stoner
As I have become a “woman of a certain age”, as my doctor so tartly put it, I have realized that my family and I have collected an incredible amount of stuff. Some of the stuff is useful, some is sentimental, and some is necessary. But, if I were to be honest with myself, the majority of the stuff is just that, stuff. So as Christmas time approaches, I am giving gifts that are intentional, serve a purpose, or have been created specifically for the recipient.
As a dog person, I was delighted to learn that our older son’s girlfriend is also a dog person. Another thing that I have learned about this lovely addition to our family is that she is very artistic and enjoys relaxing by doing one craft or another: knitting, sewing, painting, coloring.
I follow many dog people on social media. I began to see cartoon renderings of other people’s dogs that they had created using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The dogs were dressed up in costumes, on movie posters, and surfing the waves. Of course, I raced to my computer to try that right away.
And then, I had a stroke of genius! The crafty, dog loving, sweet girlfriend needed a coloring book dedicated to her fun little guy, Finnigan. Off I went to create a personalized, AI generated, adult coloring book. It looked daunting at first, but once I created a plan and spent some time learning how to customize the AI image creator, I was well on my way.
I am by no means an AI expert, but I am confident that you can follow along to create your coloring book in just a few steps.
Decide what you want to create
Obviously, I wanted to create a coloring book that centered on the dog. But what in the world should the dog be doing? What were the defining characteristics of this particular dog? My husband and I brainstormed over dinner one night and came up with a list of fun activities that the dog could be doing and what made Finnigan, Finnigan. I warn you that creating an image based on a well-defined image is simpler than an image of something that is a combination of several different subjects. Finnigan is a mixed breed dog, so we had to pick out the breeds that gave him his most dominant traits. That is how “The Many Adventures of Finnigan” was born.
What kind of coloring book do you want to create? Make a list of the descriptions that you want to include, my advice is to be specific.
Learn how to use Bing Image Creator
Bing Image Creator is a free AI image generator. The image generator uses the words you enter, or prompts, to create the image you request. The AI pulls from the vast knowledge found on the internet to piece together an image. I suggest you start out with simple phrases and see what kind of images the generator gives you. Then look at the images and decide what you do and do not like about each. How can they be improved? I recommend that you keep a running list of the prompts you create for two reasons. The first is that you will want to remember what you have and have not tried. And second, it is a bit clunky trying to edit the prompt on the submit line.
I suggest you open Bing Image Creator on a personal computer, but it does work on a smart device.
Type your prompt into the submission area and select create. It may take a few minutes for the image to render.
Let’s examine a few prompts to see how it goes.
For the image below I entered “Create a coloring book with pale blonde and white border collie and Aussie mix dog at a zoo near zoo animals” and the AI returned these four images.
It is important to note that each time you generate an image it will be different in some subtle, or not so subtle, way. As you can see below, the same prompt can generate vastly different results.
Either way, these images are not what I was looking for in my coloring book. I want the images to be black and white coloring book pages, plus I do not really think that the zoo scene is quite as detailed as I want. Additionally, I think I should specify that the coloring book is for adults so that my recipient finds it entertaining to color.
So, my next prompt is “Create an interesting adult coloring book page that depicts a pale blonde border collie and aussie mix dog in a scene at the zoo near the elephants. Ensure that the image is only black and white, simple, with clear outlines, and spaces big enough for coloring”.
This is much better! But do you see the problem with the dog? The AI took my instruction of a mix of a border collie and an aussie and made two dogs. I need to be specific and use proper punctuation.
Let’s try again. “Create an interesting adult coloring book page that depicts a dog that is a combination of a pale blonde border collie and aussie mix dog. The dog should be at the zoo near the elephant enclosure. Ensure that the image is only black and white, simple, with clear outlines, and spaces big enough for coloring”.
And there we have it, a proper dog coloring book page in the bottom left.
You can also add artistic styles to your prompt so that your pictures will have characteristics of modern art, impressionism, or even look like a comic book. Don’t worry about your prompt getting too long.
In order to get a dog mandala image, this was my prompt “An interesting, but simple mandala composed of black and white patterns, depicting a central dog that looks like a mix of a light blonde merle aussie and border collie, while subtle gem-like embellishments add details, Artwork, coloring book page template with no colored in spaces”.
You can see the image is very detailed and is a very good rendering of what I requested. It’s all in the details, folks! All in the details…
Speaking of details, AI is not good at spelling. If you request words in your image, you may get the word you want or you may get gobbledygook. It would be better to add the words in post-production so you can ensure they are properly spelled.
I am happy with the image in the bottom right corner so we can move on to the next step in the process.
Select, save, and edit your image
Now you have some choices to make. The first, of course, is which images you intend to keep. If the image is exactly like you want it to look you can go ahead and save the image to your device.
However, if you would like to make some changes to it just click on the image you want to edit, choose Customize from the next screen and Microsoft Designer will open. There you can make basic edits, resize, save, and download your image.
Once opened in Microsoft Designer, and you are ready to upsize it. Note that you will need to log in to be able to save and upsize. On the top left, click the drop-down box, and choose Resize.
When the Resize box pops up, choose See All and then the size that you want. Since I was printing my book, I chose US Letter Portrait. You can then use this program to add filters, words, or other embellishments as you choose.
If you prefer to use Canva you will need to save the original image and edit it in the Canva program. Please note that no matter the editing software you use you will need to resize your image so that it will not be blurry when you print it. Both Microsoft Designer and Canva (must have Pro) allow you to upsize your image.
Compile and print your project
Using your editing program create a new project and start adding your pictures to your new coloring book. If you choose to print the document and bind it, be sure to leave room on the edges where the binding will be placed. Don’t forget to add fun comments and titles to your pages, it is your creation after all.
After you have reviewed all the pages you may want to give it a test print at home before you send it off. I found that some of my images did not upsize well and ended up blurry. The more complicated designs tend to end up blurry once upsized.
When you are ready to print you can use Canva’s printing program, or do as I did, and print from Office Depot online. I was very impatient to see the finished project. You will have choices on what kind of binding you like, if you want clear covers and even what paper weight you desire.
And that’s it! You are now the proud gift giver of a personalized, thoughtful, original coloring book that your loved one will adore.
Melissa’s Last Word(s)
Don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t even wait for skill. Take a moment and create anything, and all of a sudden, you are creative.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at email@example.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.