Makeovers! Comparing Portrait Generators

Sigh… full-time work is great for paying the bills, don’t get me wrong. But it does cut into the worldbuilding time…

I’ve finally forced myself to make a new post with a little comparison of my two favorite portrait-making apps – Portrait and Artbreeder.

Here are the original portraits I made of my main characters from East of the Sun, Asta and Sindri. I used PortraitAI and I’m still very pleased with the results.

But as I’ve already mentioned, PortraitAI has is very Eurocentric, and much less customizable. And I got more and more comfortable with Artbreeder, I decided I wanted to try to make my leads in glorious HD.

I uploaded my Asta PortraitAI pic directly into Artbreeder and played with the sliders until I had something I liked. She came out a little younger than I would have liked, but I love what the program did with her eyebrows, and her eyes have that “glacier blue” stare that I wrote about. I’m somewhat less pleased with Sindri – I had to do him from scratch, as the three-quarters PortraitAI didn’t upload very well. So I found a few “dark-haired and gloomy” base from Artbreeder’s catalog and crossbred them, then played with the age and facial hair sliders until I got something I liked. The lines of the face aren’t quite what I picture in my head, but again, I love the direct stare, which I think captures Sindri’s intensity.

Artbreeder is free to use, but I couldn’t resist upgrading to the “Starter Breeder” tier, with gives you a greater number of both upload base pictures, and hi-res downloads of your finished product.

How It Started vs How It’s Going

So everyone’s has their own particular *favorite style* of map. Browse r/mapmaking and you can see it breaks down into all sort of categories. Some people adore the real simple hand-drawn linework, or the iconic LOTR ink style. Others are all about the distressed parchment look, other still, the modern atlas.

Me? Deep down I’m all about the satellite look.

Nice top-down Google Earth style.

The problem as I may my “worldbook” -style info sheets, is that you can’t expect in-universe cartographers to be inking up satellite-style maps, surely. They’d be making 18th C style atlas maps, heavy on ink and low on color/accuracy. And I always love me some Tolkien-style mountains (I mean, who among us didn’t get into mapmaking from pouring over that LOTR map?)

So I compromised, and started making maps like these – sort of atlas-y, sort of parchment-y. Still some color to them.

But deep down, I knew it wasn’t enough for me.

And then I bought some new Photoshop brushes. Behold the Evolution of Sarkland.

So yeah, big mapping overhaul underway.


Tools of the Trade – Portraits using and Artbreeder

I recently found a great app for making 18-19th Century style portraits:

Just upload a picture, be it a selfie, a stock photo, your favorite celebrity or art model, and you can generate an oil painting in the style of the old masters.
The program is still very restrictive in terms of race (it will literally whitewash any POC), and aesthetics (the AI doesn’t quite know what to do with more modern or offbeat hairstyles), the website promises more diverse possibilities as the app continues to evolve. In the meantime, if you’re not a portrait artist but you’d love to “see” your European-equivalent characters, it’s a great place to play.


Here are some of my rulers from the Kingdom of Night:

But suppose you need to create a portrait from scratch? Or your character is less than lily-white? Then I highly recommend Artbreeder!


Here’s a screencap from one of the portraits I made. You can start with a randomly generated face, or choose multiple starting images from the catalog, then play around with all the sliders to customize gender, age, race, width and height, facial expression, colors of eyes and hair, and just how “artsy” vs. “photorealistic” you want to go.  Go a little too far in any category and the results are… abstract to say the least. But a little practice and you can make just about any face. I quite like turning up the “Art” slider to get that “DnD sourcebook painting” look: