You might have noticed all your friends' avatars and profile pictures turning into comic book drawings or impressionistic paintings over the last few weeks. That's because of Prisma, a photo editing app for iOS and Android that let's you apply a couple of dozen filters to images you feed it. The app goes further than simply messing with the hue like Instagram does, using a process similar to Google Deep Dream to warp and twist photographs - without shoving fucked up dogs in every corner.
I spent last night feeding it game screenshots, to find out what No Man's Sky, Half-Life 2, SimCity and more would look like if their artists abandoned realism.
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No Man's Sky
The game should already have plenty of artistic variety, delivered via its procedural planets and creatures, but I wouldn't mind if you could land on a planet somewhere in the universe that applied a filter like this.
The Sims 4
I love the way the filter picks up and makes blocky some details like the shading on character's cheeks, while washing other bits of detail away by choosing and emphasising the light blue.
Prisma does best with scenes that have a lot of edges in them, so scenes with characters in them are good. I like how, again, the building in the background is partly detailed and partly rendered with loose curved lines.
This is one of my favourites. SimCity already had a tilt-shift filter laid on top to warp to perspective of its little buildings, but I like how this filter smudges and warps the boxy buildings while still clearly depicting a cityscape.
Somebody call Kill Screen. Prisma has a Mondrian filter and it naturally does well with the boxy topdown buildings of scifi colony sim RimWorld.
This wasn't a snowing scene, but the filter littered little white dots across the the smooshed textures of Minecraft. It looks like a painting's been badly photocopied.
Again: Prisma likes edges, and the app did brilliant things with this screenshot no matter what filter I gave it.
This is my least favourite of the bunch, included here as an example of images with which Prisma seems to do less well. No matter which filter I used, I couldn't get the app to do much of anything with Downwell's blank backgrounds and minimal foreground. A shame given how good the game is at layering its own filters over its simple world.
This is just great.
I think the app does better with characters in the scene, but I love how this Spore character is almost disappearing into the background.