Golden hand AI helps sketch and paints… Anyone with an idea is a webtoon writer

Naver Webtoon’s ‘Webtoon AI Painter’ automatically colorizes hair, skin and clothes with just a click. / Provided by Naver Webtoon

When the female character’s head is pressed with a pen on the screen, the empty hair color is filled at once. You do not need to set the skin brightness and clothing color separately. This is because artificial intelligence (AI) creates results that are as good as professional works by understanding the thickness of the draft line. It’s about Naver Webtoon’s AI coloring program, ‘Webtoon AI Painter’. This program was named Naver’s best project last year. Compliments from the artists were also pouring in, saying that “the effort of coloring was reduced”.

AI technology is being applied to Naver Webtoon, the No. 1 webtoon platform in Korea. Various technologies are being developed one after another, including the webtoon AI painter, ‘auto drawing’ that supports automatic sketching, and ‘toon radar’ that protects the copyright of creators. At the foundation of the Naver Webtoon AI organization is the image recognition (vision) AI startup B.Doo, which Naver acquired at the end of 2019.

Kim Dae-sik, director of Naver Webtoon, founder of the artificial intelligence (AI) startup B.dooo.  / Reporter Huh Moon-chan

Kim Dae-sik, director of Naver Webtoon, founder of the artificial intelligence (AI) startup B.dooo. / Reporter Huh Moon-chan

Daesik Kim, the founder of B.doo and in charge of the AI ​​organization of Naver Webtoon, said, “We are preparing a system that can perfectly assist writers with the data accumulated by the No. 1 webtoon platform. The time will come,” he said.

B.Doo is a company that developed AI video analysis solutions. D2SF, an enterprise accelerator (AC) organization of Naver, which recognized the business potential early on, made a seed investment in the first year of its founding.

The representative work, Webtoon AI Painter, has accumulated 160,000 members. The number of colored works is about 560,000. Recently, he is improving his auto drawing technology by applying it. AI supports the entire production process from the sketch stage of the cartoon to the completion of the cut. Director Kim explained, “It’s still at the level of helping the basic sketches in their works by learning the artist’s drawing style,” but “Based on the vast amount of data, if even the general public has an idea, AI will implement the level of drawing webtoons with individual drawings.” The technology is being developed with the goal of completion in 2025. An AI-based webtoon editing tool is also planned to be released in the third quarter of this year.

AI isn’t just used for painting. A program called Toon Raider, under development, uses AI to catch people who copy content without permission. Toonsafer is an AI that blocks violent or sexual content. It was applied to the Naver Webtoon ‘Challenge Manga’ corner. We are also developing a webtoon me program that converts real portrait photos into webtoon characters and backgrounds. We also study the technology to transform the facial expressions of webtoon characters.

Director Kim said, “The development of any technology inevitably slows down as time goes by, but AI continues to innovate until now.

Reporter Lee Si-eun see@hankyung.com

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