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Real-time AI drawing tools on the test bench

Author: 

CogniWerk Editor

Date: 31.01.2024

For over a month now, the ability to use Stable Diffusion through LCM or SDXL-Turbo in real time has impacted digital art and design through the first true AI-based drawing tools. Although the technology is not new, having been introduced in 2022 with Diffuse the Rest based on image2image as part of the Stable Diffusion, the speed and near real-time has lowered the bar for creative people.

These tools offer interesting opportunities for creatives. In this article, we look at four such tools - Kreai.ai, Freepik's Pikaso, Leonardo.ai and StyleOf - and examine what strengths and weaknesses these tools currently have.

Overview of the tools:

  1. Kreai.ai is a tool that Cogniwerk has had in its database for over a year. It has the following key features: AI Training, Smart Object Removal, Stable Diffusion XL, Dark Mode, Private Beta. A month ago, a live drawing function and an upscaler that adds additional detail to the images were added.
  2. Freepik's Pikaso is a free AI art generator that creates images from simple sketches and descriptions. Freepik is a website that provides free stock material but now also has real-time AI drawing, a sketch-to-image AI generator.
  3. Leonardo.ai is an AI-supported image generation platform from the very beginning and, in addition to fine-tuning, now also relies on real-time AI drawing.
  4. StyleOf is a very new tool that is currently under development and is currently only running in test mode for developer feedback on the Ipad.

Comparison of features:

We compare usability and functionality, especially in terms of Ease of Use and Controlability.

Krea.ai 

This tool stands out with its array of features. It offers a clean interface with diverse image inputs such as Text2img, Img2img, Screencapture, and Webcam. Screencapture is especially useful for integrating other applications like Photoshop or Blender to conduct edits, with Krea taking over AI generation. Webcam usage, though somewhat impractical, could potentially transform live analog drawings into digital art.

The prominent size of the Prompt box indicates text as the primary control element. A notable feature is the movable Prompt box. The Denoising Strength, here named 'AI Strength', can be directly adjusted in the Prompt box, while the seed is changed through a button on the left. Clicking the dice button produces a random prompt. Krea includes a modest library of textures and images and provides basic drawing tools. One area of improvement is color selection, which takes some time to get used to. There are also occasional latency issues, causing disruptions in drawing.

Positively, the tool excels in quickly enhancing an image and performs impressively in upscaling, significantly refining details in images post-editing. It supports resolutions up to 2048x2048.

Krea1Start screen

KreatextureThe selection menu for colors, textures and images.

Krea00001Drawing works well, you can quickly switch between styles and tools during the process.

Krea Img2imgThe available styles are unfortunately very limited and have strong biases. Mainly Asian or female facial features are generated.

Krea PrefinalThe enhanced image

Krea Enhanced ImageThe upscaled image

Freepik

This tool works faster than Kreai.ai but has fewer features. While it offers screen capture and webcam capabilities, it lacks style options. Similar to Kreai.ai, Pikaso exhibits a bias, though not as Asian-oriented. However, a notable issue is the tool's transformation of a black person in an uploaded image into a white young person. The lack of control over the model's output is a significant drawback.

In Pikaso, the Denoising Strength feature is named "imagination," and changing the seed is referred to as "reimagine." A useful function is the ability to reinsert the output back into the input for further refinement of the work. Thanks to a pre-selected range of colors, drawing is quick and quite intuitive. However, a major downside is that in the free version, the editing process is limited due to the "ink" consumption, which depletes after just a few minutes. Despite this limitation, the quality of the images produced is satisfactory.

FreepikstartStart screen

FreepikfinalThe drawing process is fast and easy, the style is yet difficult to obtain

Freepik Img2imgThe image input gets also missinterpreted towards a white childlike bias.

Freepik InkAnd the drawing process comes to a halt rather quickly.

Leonardo.ai

The speed of Leonardo, even in free mode, is quite impressive. Additionally, Leonardo.ai offers a real-time mode for premium users. The toolset in Leonardo is concise: it includes a drawing tool, an eraser, a selection feature, and an image uploader for starting with a pre-existing image. The drawing function, similar to Kreai.ai, experiences a slight delay when selecting a new color. However, drawing seems to be given more emphasis, as the prompt field appears rather inconspicuous. Alongside the prompt field, users can adjust the Denoising Strength (here called 'Creativity Strength') and choose from 14 different styles. In testing, these styles did not vary significantly. A notable positive is the manual adjustment of the Guidance Scale and the Prompt, allowing for better control. Leonardo.ai also has the functionality to reuse the output as input, which is very helpful for quick modifications. With 'Instant Refine,' the image gains more sharpness, while the 'Creative Refine' mode tends to push the image more towards photography. Overall, Leonardo.ai is a solid tool with many customization options, though it doesn't quite match up to Kreai.ai.

LeonardostartThe start screen with leonardos remarkable logo.

Leonardo1The base model is of good quality, but has a strong white female bias.

Leonardo Img2imgThe bias is when prompted with uploaded images.

Leonardo Switch The switch funktion is good for quick fixing of details, although the image gets altered slightly.

Leonardo EnhancerThe Instant Refine upscaler sticks closer to the prompt

Leonardo Creative UpscalerThe Creative Refine upscaler adds visible realism

StyleOf

StyleOf is a newcomer that impresses with its simple and straightforward approach. As a native iPad version, it allows for voice input of prompts and even automatic prompt refinement. The Denoising Strength is intuitively located under the prompt field and operates without additional naming. Also notable is the speed of generation and the line quality. The app is pressure-sensitive, enabling manual adjustment of even finer stroke strengths. For right-handed users, the app is intuitive, with drawing on the right side and the results generated on the left. The control bar is centrally located, allowing quick access and sensible placement if the interface is to be adapted for left-handed users. Another positive feature is the ability to switch between output and input, which simplifies the iterative refinement of an image. While drawing is a lot of fun, a downside is the limited color spectrum. Colors are largely interpreted by the AI, which prevents nuanced highlights or compositions. Also, there's no way to influence the style beyond the prompt. Overall, the app scores with its speed and intuitiveness. StyleOf is initially aimed at children, but even professionals can achieve results faster than with other apps, making it suitable for sketches. As the app is still in development, further professionalization is not ruled out.

Styleof1 The simple drawing interface of StyleOf

Styleof2 Adjustments can be fixed with output2input

Style of Final Final result

Img 0137 The model does not synthesize unusual compositions, even when prompted explicitly.

Summary

Each tool offers unique features and functionalities that cater to different needs in the creative process. 

  1. Krea.ai:
    • Strengths: Clean interface with diverse inputs, Screencapture integration, impressive upscaling, and enhancing images quickly.
    • Weaknesses: Limited color selection, occasional latency issues, limited style library with biases.
    • Recommendation: Best suited for artists integrating with other applications like Photoshop or Blender, and for those needing quick enhancement and upscaling of images.
  2. Freepik's Pikaso:
    • Strengths: Fast processing, intuitive drawing with a pre-selected range of colors, and functionality to refine work iteratively.
    • Weaknesses: Fewer style options, bias in transforming images, limited editing in the free version due to "ink" consumption.
    • Recommendation: Ideal for quick and intuitive drawing, though users should be aware of the limited editing time in the free version and potential biases in image transformation.
  3. Leonardo.ai:
    • Strengths: Fast processing, concise toolset, manual adjustments for better control, various customization options.
    • Weaknesses: Slight delay in color selection, limited variation in styles, strong bias in base models.
    • Recommendation: Suitable for users seeking a balance between speed and customization, especially those who value manual adjustments and quick modifications.
  4. StyleOf:
    • Strengths: Simple and intuitive design, voice input and automatic prompt refinement, pressure-sensitive drawing, quick generation and line quality.
    • Weaknesses: Limited color spectrum, no influence on style beyond the prompt.
    • Recommendation: Great for children and professionals seeking fast sketching tools. Its simplicity and intuitiveness make it ideal for quick drafts, though the limited color spectrum might be a constraint for detailed compositions.

While Krea.ai and Leonardo.ai are more suitable for detailed and professional work, Pikaso and StyleOf are better for quick sketches and intuitive drawing experiences. Users should choose based on their specific requirements and preferences in terms of style, speed, and level of detail.

Interested in the technology behind AI drawing tools? Explore Stable Diffusion to understand and control image generation at its core. It's an opportunity for both beginners and experts to delve into AI creativity. Start your journey with Stable Diffusion today.