How to use Lensa AI photo app to turn selfies into digital avatars

Lensa AI image.

Sophia Pitt

You may have noticed a new trend taking over your Instagram feed. Your friends turn themselves into digital art using an AI-generated app called Lensa.

Lensa AI is currently the best free app in the Apple App Store, although you have to pay to use the AI ​​art feature.

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Lensa first launched as a photo editing tool in 2018, but last month the company released a new feature called “Magic Avatars.” These AI-generated digital self-portraits turn you into works of art in a variety of themes, from pop, to fairy princesses, to anime.

Lensa avatar of Sofia Pitt in iridescent.

Sophia Pitt

You get a 7-day free trial. Subscription fees vary thereafter, with annual unlimited access ranging from $14.99 to $49.99. To use the “Magic Avatar” tool, you pay an additional $3.99 for 50 images.

Here’s how to try it yourself.

How to create digital art with Lensa

There has been a boom in generative AI in recent months with releases such as ChatGPT and Dall-E. ChatGPT, which also recently went viral, is an AI chatbot that has a lot of promise. You can ask it to write poems and stories or use it to answer questions. Created by OpenAI, the same organization as ChatGPT, Dall-E is an AI-powered text-to-image generator. You type in some words and it creates a picture.

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Lensa operates using the open source image generator called Stable Diffusion. This is how you get started.

  • Download Lensa AI for iPhone or Android.
  • Open the app.
  • Click on the ‘Photos’ tab.
  • You will see a yellow button that says “Magic Avatars”.
  • It will warn you that there may be inaccuracies in images, such as defects and artifacts, so you need to acknowledge these terms before proceeding. Some of these inaccuracies include creating images with multiple heads or limbs. This didn’t happen to me, although I did see some images that generated two different eye colors.

Lensa’s “What to Expect” page.

Sophia Pitt

  • After clicking “continue”, you will be asked to upload 10 to 20 selfies. The app recommends using close-ups, pictures of adults, different backgrounds and facial expressions. It advises users to avoid group photos, children’s photos, covered faces and nude photos.
  • The app says “Images are immediately deleted from our servers after the avatars are ready.”
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  • After selecting 10-20 selfies, you will be asked to select your gender.
  • It’s time to pay. If you’re a subscriber, prices are 51% off, so 50 avatars are $3.99, 100 images are $5.99, and 200 images are $7.99.
  • After 20 minutes or so, you’ll be notified that your avatars are ready to view and save. You will receive avatars in a variety of styles such as Fantasy, Fairy Princess, Focus, Pop, Stylish, Anime, Light, Kawaii, Iridescent and Cosmic.

Here are some of my findings:

Fairy Princess Avatar Lensa.

Sophia Pitt

Lensa raises privacy and copyright concerns

Artists has accused the company behind the app of stealing art from digital creators. Jon Lam, a storyboard artist at Riot Games, explained to NBC News that AI models are trained using other people’s art. Worse, Lauryn Ipsum, a graphic designer noted in a Dec. 5 tweet that artists’ signatures are still visible, albeit encrypted, on some images. I noticed that too.

In a December 6 Twitter thread, Prisma Labs attempted to address some of these concerns. “The AI ​​learns to recognize the connections between the images and their descriptions, not the artworks,” it said. “In this way, the model develops operational principles that can be applied to content generation. Therefore, the output cannot be described as exact copies of any particular work of art.”

Lensa-generated avatar appears to display the artist’s signature.

Sophia Pitt

Some privacy experts are concerned that the Lensa app may keep the photos you upload, even though it says it doesn’t.

“As soon as the avatars are generated, the user’s images and the associated model are permanently deleted from our servers, the company said on Twitter. “And the process would start over for the next request.”

But any app that collects data from a phone can lift other private data. In Pisma Labs’ terms of service, the company says it does not “require or request any metadata associated with the images you upload, metadata (including, for example, geotags) may be associated with your photos by default.” This means that it is unclear whether or not you are sharing location or personal data with the app, even if you do so unintentionally.

Prisma Labs, the owner of Lensa, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment over privacy and copyright concerns.

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