The making of

In case you haven't heard, we live in the future now.

On August 22, 2022, released their Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) model Stable Diffusion to the public. Stable Diffusion is a model that can not only generate some really good images from text prompts, it can generate them on a consumer grade desktop. Think thousands of dollars instead of tens-of-thousands. It's a big deal.

After I got Stable Diffusion all loaded up on my PC, I had fun making very silly images with it. After that, the first thing I wanted to do was illustrate the entire Bible. History buffs will know that the the first book printed by the printing press was the Bible. So, I wanted the first book, entirely illustrated by A.I. to be the Bible. I've been working on it for a while now, and I'm excited to share the process with you.

Note In this blog post, I'm going to refer to the Stable Diffusion model I used as MichA.I.langelo (pronounced mike A. I. langelo) because I'm going to anthropomorphize it a bit, and that's more fun if it has a name.

The first step: Painting every verse in the Bible

I gave MichA.I.langelo each and every verse of the King James Bible and asked it to generate a painting. Here are some of the actual prompts I used:

A painting. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
A painting. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
A painting. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Not very complicated. For the most part, MichA.I.langelo did a great job, and was able to get the "biblical theme" without any sophisticated prompt engineering. As a bonus, by being a bit vague with the prompt, I got a wide variety of themes and styles.

In the King James version of the Bible there are 31,102 verses, so I generated 31,102 paintings. One for each verse. MichA.I.langelo took about 4.25 seconds per painting, or about 37 hours in total.

That was the easy part.

The second step: The hard part.

Thumbing through images at random, I found that some of the images were not, as we say, "Safe for Sunday School". I'm not just talking about some tasteful nudity that you would see in an art museum (which there was a lot of too). I'm talking paintings horrible beyond all imagination. Things that would make David Cronenberg's skin crawl. There is some progress in creating A.I.s that can detect this kind of stuff, but it's not perfect yet, so I had to go through and manually filter out the bad ones. All 31,102 of them.

So I brought out my inner Santa Claus and sorted the paintings into three piles:

Now let's talk about the naughty ones: of the 31,102 paintings about 3,000 were on the naughty list. That's about 10%. I've categorized the naughty ones in about 5 main categories:

1. Nudity

About 2,400 (~80%) of the naughty paintings were filtered out due to nudity. Most of the nudity was bare behinds, something you would expect to see in a Renaissance painting. Some of it was a fair bit racier, but I'm not listing examples, so you will have to use your imagination.

2. Horrible Abominations.

Here is a relatively tame one:

2 Samuel 23: 25

2 Samuel 23: 25

Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,

Pop quiz: What is a Harodite?

Did you pick C? I can tell you one thing, MichA.I.langelo did not pick C. It did not pick C at all.

3. Jesus in the Old Testament.

MichA.I.langelo would pick up pretty easily that it should draw something biblical, and by that logic, it should draw Jesus. But, as we know, Jesus did not part the Red Sea, nor did he build the Tower of Babel. So I had to filter out all the paintings of Jesus in the Old Testament.

4. "Sticky" images.

Sometimes one particular word or phrase would cause MichA.I.langelo to get stuck on a concept. Even if that concept had nothing to do with the verse. Let me show you:

Some fun examples:

Colossians 1: 11

Colossians 1: 11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness

The sticky part here is "strengthened with all might", which MichA.I.langelo took to mean: "strengthened with the character All Might from My Hero Academia." Which MichA.I.langelo drew a nice bootleg version for us. I was tempted to keep it in, because I love that show. But, that would require me to go beyond biblical themes, PLUS ULTRA!

1 John 3:13

1 John 3:13

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

The sticky part here is "Marvel". MichA.I.langelo took that to mean Marvel comic books. I kind of like the crossover Iron Man/Spider-Man/Captain America. Knowing comic books, there's probably already a universe in the multiverse where this happens.

Job 8:11

Job 8:11

Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?

MichA.I.langelo: "Yes, I know all about countries, and by countries you mean America!"

Every time a verse mentioned anything even slightly patriotic, MichA.I.langelo would draw American Flags everywhere. It took some convincing to get it to understand that there are nations other than the U.S.A.

5. Leviticus.

The last and definitely the worst. Have you read the book of Leviticus? It's basically a list of things you really, really shouldn't do. So much horror came from the book of Leviticus. When I started this project, I thought Revelations would be the worst, but if the books were people, Revelations would be a resident of Normal-town for normal people. Leviticus would be a resident of Horror-town for horror people.

Here's how most verses in Leviticus would go:

In the future, Cronenberg should do a movie about Leviticus. (But who am I kidding, in the future, all movies will be made by A.I.)

This is also the book that talks about cutting off that certain part. That part. For reasons unexplained by science, MichA.I.langelo decided to paint the "part" that was being cut off 3 times the size of the man it was attached to. It was horrifying, but also so absurd as to be hilarious.

The last step: Redemption

I wasn't content to just filter out the naughty verses, I had to give them a second chance. As you may or may not know, MichA.I.langelo doesn't just draw by starting with a blank canvas. It starts with a random image, think of the static you would see on an old TV screen when it's not tuned to any channels. MichA.I.langelo uses that noise as a starting point, and then it "sees" the image that it wants to draw, and it draws it, by "removing the noise". The point is, if you change the noise, you can change the image that MichA.I.langelo draws.

So I took the naughty verses, and I fed them into MichA.I.langelo again, but this time I started MichA.I.langelo with a different noise. For about 3,000 images, this process took about another 3.5 hours, which wasn't so bad.

After regenerating, I had to check the new images, again. And about 1000 (30%) were still naughty. So I regenerated those, and checked them again. And about 60% of those were still naughty.

I repeated this process about 8 times,

Until I had about 400 images that refused to give up their naughty naughty ways (a lot of them were from Leviticus). The content of the verses themselves were the problem, so I couldn't rely on new noise giving me a clean image. I didn't want to manually edit each image, because I wanted the images to come from MichA.I.langelo. The solution I came up with was to modify the prompt, just slightly:

An abstract painting. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

You can't be naughty if no one can tell what's happening! After about 4 iterations, I only had about 20 left. To mend their naughty ways, I had to go even more abstract. I changed the prompt one more time:

An abstract painting by Pablo Picasso. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

I'm not going to share any abstract examples here, because even the verses are a bit too spicy. But, if you look through Leviticus, you'll probably find a lot of verses that are conspicuously abstract.

This last iteration made absolutely all the 31,102 paintings "Safe for Sunday School". I probably shouldn't have gone to so much trouble for less than 1% of the images, but maybe I heard the Parable of the Lost Sheep one too many times.

The end, or is it the beginning

I'm excited to see where MichA.I.langelo will take us next. I presented to you the first Bible completely illustrated by an A.I.. But, it surely will not be the last. As MichA.I.langelo gets better, I will update the site with even higher quality images, and I plan to do some more fun things too, like what if we could make the entire Bible in the style of a Disney® cartoon, or a maybe even a bunch of talking vegetables? Subscribe to the newsletter below to stay up to date on the latest developments!

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