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OpenAI adds ‘Outpainting’ feature to its AI system, DALL-E, allowing users to make AI images of any size

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emma catnip dall e outpainting
Crop of an outpainting created by DALL-E user Emma Catnip

In July, OpenAI’s incredible AI system DALL-E 2 entered public beta, allowing users to create their own images and artwork using sophisticated AI technology. OpenAI has now announced Outpainting, a new feature that helps users ‘extend their creativity by continuing an image beyond its original borders.’

Imagine a famous painting, such as ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer. The original painting is a close-up view of a woman. The background is nearly black and you can only see the subject from the shoulders up. With Outpainting, it’s possible to reimagine the portrait with a full scene, including more of the woman’s body and an entire room behind her. You can take a story ‘in new directions’ using a natural language description, like DALL-E user August Kamp did with Vermeer’s famous painting, as seen below.

august kamp girl with pearl earring outpainting
DALL-E user August Kamp used Outpainting to extend Johannes Vermeer’s famous 1665 painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

Outpainting takes existing DALL-E features even further. You can already edit generated or uploaded images using what OpenAI calls ‘Inpainting,’ but these edits were limited to preexisting borders. Outpainting can extend original images, create larger images in different aspect ratios, and much more. Plus, the system considers existing shadows, reflections and textures, to help make newly-generated content appear natural.

Outpainting is now available to all DALL-E users on a desktop. If you’d like to join the public beta, join the waitlist.

dall e outpainting sonia levesque
Outpainting created by Sonia Levesque

DALL-E’s AI technology is already blurring the lines between reality and fiction, which is exciting to some and unsettling or scary to others. AI creating cartoon cats playing basketball in space is one thing, but for AI to be able to extend existing works of art? Perhaps it’s a bridge too far. A game designer, Jason Allen, recently used a different text-to-image AI platform, Midjourney, to win first prize in an art competition. Allen sees no issue with his victory, but some people are concerned. Allen won a digital art category and disclosed that he used AI at the time of entry, so he doesn’t have anything to apologize for. However, it’s easy to see how people could deceitfully use AI to win competitions meant for hands-on creations.

dall e outpainting david schnurr
Outpainting created by David Schnurr

If anyone can create a beautiful work of art by typing a description into an AI platform, there are implications for the future of art. Considering DALL-E’s Outpainting feature, if anyone can augment existing works of art, that could quickly become problematic. On the other hand, AI is enabling a new generation of artists who may have previously been held back by physical disabilities, lack of time or the inability to receive art education. There seems to be a worthwhile place for AI-generated artworks, but there’s no doubt to be some growing pains as the technology improves and AI artwork proliferates.



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