Sketch & Ai Scarecrow Scene

About 10 years ago I created a quick sketch of a mid summer scene with a young, helpful girl offering a scarecrow a hat to protect him from the heat of the day. It was one of those quick drawings which you complete then put away, Its strange when you look at old work and see all the mistakes, but the main thing was, even after all this time I still remembered the illustration. 

Original Sketch


I decided to use it recently with AI to help refine the sketch and maybe push it further. I know there's a lot of varying opinion's about the use of generative AI art, but I find it fascinating as I've always been interested in abstraction, variants, fractals and pareidolia. Not that this illustration encompasses any of those, but given the initial image to work with, its interesting how the ai uses it as a base to work with.
I've started using Leonardo AI as I've found Stable Diffusion (Automatic 1111) a wonderful sandpit to play in, but due to my hardware falling behind a little, the taxing demand on my aging PC was proving to be a little worrying. So instead I treated myself and subscribed to Leonardo AI, the reason for this is? I found the output of a high standard due to their fine tuned models, but also they offer a wide range of tools with the subscription which meant I could experiment.

To keep this an 'easier read' I won't go into prompt details, but needless to say, I ran a number of them giving Leonardo some creative freedom to push the concept, but I wanted to maintain the composition and original 'vibe' the drawing gave me.

Below is one of the first pass' and from the offset I could see my illustration of the Scarecrow was giving the AI some problems :) To be fair my scarecrow illustration style and chosen drawing angle was not the best, and the results are comical...


However here's where for me, its starts to get interesting. I really liked the black and white pencil look, the landscape was wonderful, like a composite of water colour and pencil. The young girl looked great too, it maintained the character and gave a hint of time period too something I hadn't really considered in the original sketch.

Leonardo doesn't do the work for you, it takes patience and you slowly curate the output, but if you stick with it you slowly find yourself working with the AI to build the picture you want. I think one of the early misconceptions regarding AI was that 'it does the work for you' - that's not the case. As I mentioned earlier its better to think of the process as curation while having a vision to aim for.

I won't bore you with all the iterations...

but after numerous attempts I started to piece together elements I liked along side testing Leonardo's other fine tuned models to push the illustration forwards...


Until I arrived at the final image...


Is it the same as the original, well no, not exactly, but for me personally, that's the fun of the journey. What started out for me as a simple sketch with a memorable composition developed into lovely piece, with the help of AI  not only capturing the original, but refining, adding, improving a simple concept.

Thanks for making it to the end :)