At the beginning of the pandemic and lockdown in March 2020, I was stuck at home with a two and five year old. It began immediately apparent that the only way to get any work done was to ply them with activities. At that point, we were a nearly-no screen time household and wanted to keep it that way.
They quickly exhausted all interest in their toys and stuffed animals and there was a constant nagging for entertaining and engagement, while work steadily piled up. Braving the virus, I retrieved the large laser jet printer from the office and brought it up. There, I was able to print out activity books. However, the most popular requests of March and April 2020 were coloring pages.
I used Google Image Search to find coloring page but the paradigm of choice quickly got the better of the girls. They’d come to me during work and ask for a coloring page and then spend minutes looking over the images to find the one that they wanted to color. While they did this, my brain would melt and I’d daydream about getting work done.
Soon, the requests for a particular coloring page became too elaborate for Google. “I want a unicorn on a rainbow. No — a cute unicorn! Eating a strawberry.”
I’d use PowerPoint or GIMP to fashion together two coloring pages into one and press Command-Print. They’d run off to the printer to scribble on the page and come back in a few minutes.
Then, they’d make even more elaborate requests. They’d find a Sesame Street character that didn’t have a coloring page but a full color image and wanted me to color it. I found sites that offered the conversion, take a screenshot, and then print. That was my peak of coloring page making and I felled many poor trees satisfying their demands.
If only Dall-E Mini and Craiyon.com were available two years ago! Now, creating a coloring page is a super easy task that is designed well for this system. Coloring pages only need to approximate realism, they’re black and white, and even low resolution works.
Just like horse-drawn carriages with the automotive revolution, coloring page makers are likely to be the first victims of the AI revolution. Looks like the gravy train is at the end of the line.