The photo filter craze that began in 2010 with Instagram, continues to intensify to this day.

Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest are part and parcel of our world that revolves around images and videos. Do you know what is the one common factor that connects all of them? They’re all using face /photo editing apps. In this blog, let’s dive deep into the world of how Artificial Intelligence in photo editing apps works through an AI use case. 

You would remember the photo editing craze that took over the internet a few months ago. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds were filled with photos of friends and family who seemingly aged overnight? Even celebrities had participated and fuelled the trend. All thanks to FaceApp – a mobile application that uses artificial intelligence to apply filters that can age users by 30 years older or younger. With over 150 million lifetime downloads as of July 2019, this AI-based photo editing app had gained huge popularity across the globe. But how do FaceApp and other photo editing applications work?

Photo filters are so 2010, Enter the Era of AI-based rich “style transfer” photo editing apps.

How does Artificial Intelligence in photo editing apps work?

Unlike typical filters that float on top of a photo to change its look, filters based on artificial intelligence gives a completely different overhaul to the photo filtering concept. AI based photo editing apps alter the look of your photo by completely recreating the photo and not simply adding an overlay to it. This is accomplished by using algorithms based on machine learning and neural networks.  Neural Networks make use of object recognition for photo art to basically analyze images in layers. This alters the image’s underlying pixels in such a way that it imparts a specific work of art or artistic style to the image. Almost all AI-based photo editing apps, in all their algorithm-based integrity, basically change the structure of the image or video by responding uniquely to each photo or video based on the content to render singular results.

Here’s how AI is used in some of the most popular photo editing apps that create works of art from your photos to beautify your face or swap it with someone else’s face-


This new selfie app trending all over the web changes a user’s face to match their expressions, swaps faces with their family or friends, or changes gender with the use of AI to make the photos look more engaging. Rather than using image stacking or pixel manipulation, the app uses artificial intelligence to transform features and facial expressions of the user. It can make a person look younger or older and it can also make a woman look like a man. Suppose the task at hand is to make a person smile in a photo where the person is not smiling at all. It is not just about extending the lips but requires adjusting the eyes, mouth and other facial features so as to make sure that the transformation looks realistic. FaceApp uses GANs and AI open-source libraries like TensorFlow to find features from your face and apply filters to make you look younger/ older. It relies on neural networks or rather, generative adversarial network (GAN),  to identify and examine how a person will age over the years.

Neural networks are mathematical algorithms that let computers learn patterns from previous data and provide decisions or recommendations when applied to new data. It is the trained neural networks behind the FaceApp viral sensation which learn how faces age from billions of existing images to a point that when given a new face, they can simulate with perfection on how a person will age


PRISMA is another popular app leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to augment photos. Though it is not designed specifically to edit selfies, the app creates new versions of your photos that resemble artistic styles of famous artists like Lichtenstein, Van Gogh, Picasso, and others. Prisma uses a deep learning method named convolutional neural networks to learn the low-level or artistic style of an input photograph and create stunning images. The algorithm behind the Prisma app uses two images to create a third image from scratch. The first photo is the photo from the user’s phone and the second one is obviously the artistic style. The AI-powered algorithm analyses the input images and intelligently uses the texture and style from famous artwork to create a great result in the exported one. This is how Prisma generated imagery from scratch similar to a blank canvas and that’s the reason why photos edited with Prisma look like real-life paintings.


Imagine having your selfie turned into a Matisse or Van Gogh painting. Developed at the University of Tübingen in Germany, the DeepArt algorithm lets you tweak your photos for a  completely new look using the style of your favorite artist using an algorithm inspired by the human brain. The algorithm works on the latest technological advances in deep learning i.e. it is based on algorithms used for computer vision and face recognition that make use of high-level abstractions. The app makes use of the stylistic elements of an image to reproduce the content for another one by extracting the key features such as an object or a face. The application then paints an image by comparing the initial features with the artistic painting it is supposed to reproduce.

Our take on the role of Artificial Intelligence in Photo Editing Apps

Artist’s Beware! Artificial Intelligence is coming to your paintbrush too! The waves of photo editing influenced by artificial intelligence are likely to become a lasting trend. The use of neural networks in photo editing is still developing and it is soon likely to take over this field. AI-powered photo editing apps could have a bright future, making it possible to edit photos with mere clicks instead of having to understand the process of doing it the complex way using Photoshop. These AI-based photo editing apps are just the tip of the iceberg of the use cases of Artificial Intelligence. 

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