These people are not real
If you’ve ever had to prepare a presentation or other design project, you might have included photos of people. An image of a face could represent a user of a product or service, a target market, or simply be included to humanise and add warmth to a communication.
But finding high-quality, diverse photos can be time-consuming, and using legally-sourced images from stock photo websites can be costly. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), you can access convincing-looking, yet entirely fake, photos of people for free.
A company called Icons8 has just released an enormous resource of 100,000 faces generated by AI. The images can be used for any application you desire, from presentations to websites, mockups and more. They are all free to use, with no copyright to worry about. The only condition is that you attribute generated.photos somewhere in your project.
The faces are diverse in their expressions and shapes, and represent a range of ages and ethnicities. They are also consistently lit and sized, making them look harmonious when placed in groups.
The creators assure that the AI used to generate the images was not trained using stock media or other photos scraped from the internet. Instead, all training data was gathered from photographs of models shot in-house. According to The Verge, the team took 29,000 pictures of 69 models over three years – quite an effort.
The results aren’t always perfect, however, as you can see above. Some photos contain major AI-generated splotches or oddly-placed features. Looking through the library, it seems that headwear, long hair and ears are the trickiest features to resolve. But for the most part, the images are incredibly convincing. An Icons8 blog post notes that “when you see a face that is a bit ‘off’, just give it some slack.”
The project continues to be developed, and the team’s ultimate goal is to produce an API that can easily generate diverse photos based on inputs such as ethnicity, age and mood. It would allow designers to quickly produce photorealistic portraits without worrying about copyright or model releases.
With the inexorable advancement of AI, the writing appears to be on the wall for a portion of the stock photography community, which will no doubt struggle to remain viable.