Clip Studio Paint, one of the most popular software programs for digital illustration, has nixed its new artificial intelligence “Image Generator palette” after widespread backlash from its users.
Clip Studio Paint announced the new AI image generator tool on November 29. Only three days later, the company announced that it had dropped the feature.
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“After the initial announcement, we received a lot of feedback from the community and will no longer implement the image generator palette,” a Clip Studio Paint statement read. “We were so preoccupied with how generative AI technology could be used creatively that we lost sight of what our core users want from Clip Studio Paint as a creative tool. We would like to sincerely apologize.”
In Clip Studio Paint’s initial announcement about the new AI tool, the company assured users that it was using Stable Diffusion — a powerful AI text-to-image model — to power their generator and wouldn’t be harvesting their users’ work to further train Stable Diffusion’s well developed AI.
AI text-to-image generators have been highly controversial in artist communities, particularly amongst digital illustrators, because their models were built by ingesting and analyzing hundreds of millions of images, many of which were by artists who did not consent to their work being used.
In addition, many users have been using these AI image generators to produce work in the style of a specific, often living artist. For example, after famed illustrator Kim Jung Gi died in October, a fan uploaded his illustrations into an AI text-to-image generator that could replicate his style at will.
Jordan Kinkaid, an illustrator with a relatively small following but who makes her living illustrating books and selling merchandise based off of her illustrations at conventions, was surprised when she saw that her work had been stolen and input into an AI generator that could roughly reproduce her style.
“I’m not against AI generators existing, but there need to be protections put in place,” Kinkaid told ARTnews at her booth at Anime NYC, a convention for anime fans in New York in late November. “We spend years and year perfecting our craft, we’re underpaid, this is a big deal.”
Experiences like Kinkaid’s have made illustrators wary of AI tools even being offered as an assistive tool, hence the backlash to Clip Studio Paint’s announcement. However, these piecemeal moments of resistance may not be enough, as major tech companies like Google and Adobe continue to develop their AI offerings.