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Bad doodler? Artificial intelligence can fix that too with Google’s AutoDraw

Why it matters to you

Turn quick drawings into something better than stick figures with Google's free AutoDraw tool.

Say goodbye to crummy stick figures — artificial intelligence can now turn crappy drawings into actual artistic sketches. AutoDraw is a new web-based tool from Google, announced April 11, that interprets quick sketches and replaces them with artistic renderings.

The AI program seeks to recognize what you are drawing, and then displays similar drawings at the top for you to replace yours with. Along with replacing your sketches with artistic renderings, the online tool allows users to color in the figures and add text, good for making quick graphics that don’t look like they were done quickly, from flyers to coloring pages. Since the program is web-based, users can access it from desktop computers or mobile devices — and it’s free.

When AutoDraw turns your bad stick figure into a yoga pose, it’s using neural networks and object recognition to determine exactly what you’re trying to draw, then displaying a list of similar figurines crafted by artists. Along with using drawings from a team of artists, the program encourages users to submit their own non-crappy drawings for the system to use.

The tool comes from Google’s experimental AI Quick Draw that was designed to guess exactly what you’re trying to sketch, except the new web-based tool can actually replace it with the real thing. Quick Draw was actually partially taught by asking web browsers to draw an object in under twenty seconds. The more users drew with the program, the better the system got at interpreting just what that drawing is.

The computer verbally guesses what you’re drawing — the first guess on our snowman drawing was a potato, but the system picked it up after the second snowball and even before any carrot noses.

Besides the artificially intelligent sketch recognition, AutoDraw will also let you keep your drawings as-is for those just looking for a free drawing tool. Sketches can then be downloaded or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Since it’s designed for quick sketches, there isn’t an option to save your work to come back later.