App world goes bananas for art app that turns photos into Van Goghs | Cult of Mac

App world goes bananas for art app that turns photos into Van Goghs

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Prisma
The Prisma app for iPhone lets you apply the painting style of a famous artist.
Photo: Prisma

An AI-powered app that turns any boring photo into an art masterpiece is taking the app world by storm.

Prisma is an iOS app that not only transforms an ordinary photo into a painting, it does so in the styles of different famous artists, from Van Gogh and Picasso to Edvard Munch of “The Scream” fame.

Developed in Russia, the app is taking off like a rocket, doubling its servers, topping the charts and inspiring the #Prisma hashtag. It even counts the Russian President among its enthusiastic users.

The photo app category in the App Store is crowded, but Prisma after just a couple of weeks seems in position to skyrocket to the top in popularity. Created by Russian programmer Alexey Moiseyenkov, Prisma is king according to Apple’s App Store rankings in Mother Russia and several neighboring countries, including Estonia, Ukraine and Latvia.

Download the app for free here. Prisma for Android users is still in the works.

Within a week of its launch, the developer had to double the app’s server capacity, and then keep doubling it every day as new users rushed in. Investors quickly came knocking. Mail.ru, one of Russia’s biggest internet companies, snapped up a 10 percent stake in Moiseyenko’s tiny four-person company.

The Prisma effect on a dog named Jack.
The Prisma effect on a dog named Jack.
Photo: Adam Christianson/MacCast

Prisma’s popularity is so strong, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev has been posting Prisma-painted picks on his Instagram feed.

When Moiseyenkov saw Medvedev was using Prisma, he wrote on Facebook: “It looks like we’ve taken Russia.”

Russia and maybe soon the world.

The Moscow Times applied Prisma to ordinary headshots for a moody illustration.
The Moscow Times applied Prisma to ordinary headshots for a moody illustration.
Photo: The Moscow Times

Since its launch on June 11, Prisma has been downloaded 1.6 million times, according to the Moscow Times. It’s starting to take off here in the West, generating some buzz and a Twitter hashtag (#Prisma), where the curious can comb through lots of examples of the Prisma effects.

A nighttime Prisma view of Bangkok.
A nighttime Prisma view of Bangkok.
Photo: BkkGreg/Twitter

Prisma is powered by artificial intelligence to transform the photos, using a method called convolutional neural networks. Running on massive servers, the neural nets are trained to imitate the signature techniques of famous artists. Prisma does not just cover a photo with a pre-existing filter. It ‘repaints’ images submitted to it in the style of the artist chosen. The neural nets use the photo only as a guide, and they create – or repaint – the image from scratch as though painted by an old master.

If only VanGogh could paint your picture. Now, in Prisma, he can.
If only VanGogh or Chagall could paint your picture. Now, in Prisma, he can.
Photo: Apple.Apple.