Artificial Intelligence pioneers Artomatix discuss how their tools can help innovate some of the more mundane tasks present in the 3D industry…
Officially formed in 2014, but established long before that, Artomatix is a Dublin based company that specializes in applying Artificial Intelligence to creativity. The company has developed a new way of making 3D art that it hopes will optimise 3D content creation and solve a major problem it sees in the industry.
In a broad sense Artomatix's technology attempts to automate many of the mundane, tedious and low-value tasks for artists and allows them to get to the part they really enjoy. It calls this new approach, "Example-based content creation,” and accomplishes it through the use of neural networks, statistics and, in their words, "a whole lot of passion for the 3D industry!”
Artomatix's service consists of converting low resolution, old and 2D textures to PBR materials
The company is hoping to position its technology as the solution to what it describes as an endless appetite for 3D content. Artomatix believes the spiralling cost and demand for content creation has fostered an unsustainable environment in the industry.
"AI is the only answer to the current 3D content creation problem: the need for 3D content is exponentially increasing for entertainment, architecture, AR & VR, industrial product design and advertising.”
For Artomatix Artificial Intelligence is the solution. The company's mission is, through the use of automation, to save artists and studios valuable time and money, and give them space to move on to more exciting and imaginative parts of the creative process.
"By moving 3D artists away from tedious, repetitive tasks, we help artists focus on high added value tasks that brought them to this field in the first place.”
Enhanced quality textures (up to 16K) can be created from an input texture
That is undoubtedly music to the ears for anyone who's spent endless hours fixing seams and doing double shifts to get that ground texture look just
right. However, it doesn't stop at simply increasing productivity; Artomatix is keen to stress that it wants to "lower the barrier that individuals need to meet to express their creativity.”
"Our mission is to help anyone who wants to create 3D content to be able to do so easily: it is about democratising the 3D content creation industry.”
It might all sound too good to be true but the company is already implementing many of its technologies into major projects. Numerous companies in the 3D industry are already using Artomatix services, including major 3D software editors and leading game engines.
Of the features Artomatix is hoping to provide, the more tangible benefits might be obvious in things like In-painting, Infinity tiles and material enhancement:
The in-painting feature is simple to use, as it allows 3D artists to remove any unwanted features by simply painting on them.
In-Painting removes unwanted features from a texture
Infinity Tiles can cover an infinite surface without obvious repeats. They look perfectly natural but take up the exact same memory footprint as a traditional tile.
Conventional tiling creates obvious seams
Infinity Tile covering a large landscape in a non-repetitive way
Artomatix uses "Deep Learning” to increase the resolution and detail of old, low resolution materials. This can be good for remastering old games or recycling old assets
Link's shield from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time enhanced to four times its original resolution
Artomatix doesn't see itself as exclusively as a selling a solution to a problem. The company has demonstrated that the technology has the ability to generate massive amounts of unique and novel assets. However, it is adamant that the technology is complementary, rather than a catch-all replacement for good artistry.
"While it's possible for Artomatix to come up with new and potentially interesting designs which could help inspire, at the end of the day the real creativity comes from the artist.”
Instead it prefers artists to think of it as another brush; "But this paint brush has a mind of its own which learns from and complements the creativity of the artist.”
The company's ambitions don't stop at the 3D and VFX industry. Although originally the technology was aimed at 3D studios, the company has found application for it in a variety of fields, from architecture to industrial design. One key area of interest for the company is in e-commerce, particularly in digitizing texture libraries into high-res materials for 3D representation in VR and AR.
"Think visualizing one's living room on a tablet and unboxing a new customized sofa, in accurate size and dimensions, through augmented reality.”
The company certainly paint a compelling picture for the potential for AI in all kinds of areas of design. It's clear that Artomatix sees itself right at the cutting edge of what AI is capable of, and continues to research and experiment in the space.
Another area that the company has developed its interests is in "Style Transfer”, and recently published a paper
with the catchy title "Stable and Controllable Neural Texture Synthesis and Style Transfer Using Histogram Losses.” For those who aren't AI scientists, there are a couple of attractive applications which might help clear things up:
The Style Transfer algorithm has kept the overall structure of the tiled roof texture, and coupled it with the painted style of the input picture, to issue a tiled roof texture with heavy brushstrokes.
• Using PBR materials such as Quixel Megascans
, to update old, low resolution assets to modern standard in high detail. This would also help artists make their hand drawn materials fit a PBR style
Here the algorithm has done the same with a stone wall texture, and coupled it with the cartoony style of the input, to produce a stone wall texture with a cartoony style.
• There are a lot of assets out there thanks to content repositories such as Turbosquid
and the Unity Asset Store
. It can be difficult to find uses for these assets in production because their art style doesn't necessarily fit that of your game. Style Transfer will let you quickly assemble a visually heterogeneous scene from purchased content and homogenize it.
Transfer has been applied to the textures of the castle: the stone wall has a greater definition and the roof has a complete new drawn style.
It seems for a long time people have been promising a brighter, more convenient future with the help of AI. Whether or not you believe that future is finally becoming a reality; the implications for Artomatix's technology, both currently available and potential, are genuinely exciting. With more partnerships and its local client coming out next year you can expect to see a lot more of Artomatix in the near future.
See more of Artomatix tools at the website
Read 3dtotal's interview with Artomatix CTO, Eric Risser