Training Day

The obvious answer to getting better looking hands from a generative AI would be to give it a few examples of good hands.

Da Vinci – studies of hands

Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo were not born knowing how to draw hands.

I always loved these sketches, because they are such a viewport into the artists’ process. They also humanize the immortals. Somehow, knowing the Rodin actually had to think about what he was doing, is comforting.

I love me some Rodin. When I look at these, I don’t feel as threatened by AI after all. No doubt, eventually AIs will be trained to produce Rodin-look-alike renderings, but that day is not today.

Midjourney AI and mjr: “studies of hands in the style of Da Vinci”

That was without any prompts given. So, I loaded up that single page (above) of Da Vinci studies, and asked it again:

Midjourney AI and mjr: “studies of hands in the style of Da Vinci with actual examples of Da Vinci”

I’ll spare the interim steps but for my next attempt I loaded some hand studies by Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and some buddha hand poses.

Midjourney AI and mjr: “studies of hands in the style of da vinci” with actual prompt of hands by da vinci, Michaelangelo, Rodin, and some buddha statue poses

Basically, I asked the AI “copy this” and it failed. But it failed interestingly and amusingly.

So, I asked for Rodin’s danieade as a cute space alien. Obviously the Rodin signal is overwhelming to the AI:

I had to cheer a little bit for the AI, choosing to use two textures of marble to emphasize the image. That’s pretty darned neat for something with no taste or comprehension of what it is doing.

Naturally, that led me down the garden path of Marilyn Monroe as the danieade, and the danieade in Warhammer powered armor. Which resulted in a sort of “dying gaul” fusion experiment.

Midjourney AI and mjr: “Rodin’s danaieade in warhammer powered armor”


Midjourney AI and mjr: “rodin’s danaieade in Warhammer powered armor.”

Then there was:

Midjourney AI and mjr: “giger’s alien sculpted by auguste rodin in marble”

I need to stop, this is too fun. I did ask the AI to render some of Marilyn Monroe sculpted by Rodin, but what kept coming out looked more like Jeff Koons or neo-Soviet Realist worker’s art. You don’t need to see it; nobody does. Unquestionably, in my opinion, Rodin would have done better. He also would have (no doubt) scandalized all of Paris high society with Ms Monroe. I kind of wish I could see that.


  1. says

    For some reason I really like that (almost) symmetric hand with two thumbs. But it still had problems with the fingers between the thumbs.

  2. says

    I am beginning to find this whole AI fingers thing to be a bit disturbing. OK, I get the confusion leading to 8 oddly-shaped fingers on one hand that looks like a transporter accident between a human and a bowl of cavatelli, but what’s with the hollow fingers in the upper-right? Why does it create a cross between a human hand and a bunch of leeches or lamprey? This seems like fertile ground for creating nightmares (or at least bad monster movies).

  3. davebot says

    We’ve poured god knows how much time and money into AI art only to wind up with virtual Rob Liefeld…

  4. robert79 says

    RE: “studies of hands in the style of Da Vinci”

    There is text there!

    What I find fascinating is that the AI makes handwritten annotations with its images… and everyone ignores them. Obviously, they are extremely incomprehensible, but that is generally taken as a given while the six fingered hands are seen as endearing quirks of the AI.

  5. xohjoh2n says


    Comprehensible text is accepted as hard – you’d have to do something like plug in ChatGPT as a text generator to get that right. But people expect fingers to be easy. You don’t have to have years of school to finger. (And yet, yes, the whole alien text thing does in fact get pointed out.)

    (And even from a technical perspective, it might be a bit surprising. After all, isn’t the training method to get it to generate a whole bunch of stuff, and spank it when it gets them wrong? Since it’s so easy for us to detect the errors, you might have expected it to be able to learn it’s way out of that already.)

  6. Ridana says

    Maybe it’s just my own perception, but do AI renderings of hands (and feet) show a bias toward odd numbers of digits, +thumb (or even numbers of toes including big toe)? I can almost hear it thinking, “Ok, I’m told human hands have five fingers…there! Five fingers! Oops, forgot the thumb. I’ll just tack that on here, no one will notice…”

    Has anyone explicitly asked for a hand with 4 fingers and a thumb? I think someone needs to teach it the concept of “thumb.”

    I do rather like that one with the extra fingers growing out of the palm like crystals.

  7. Tethys says

    I wonder if the built in features that prevent people from producing AI porn are also creating problems with the fingers? It could explain why some of those fingers look more like a bunch of penes.
    I’m so not shocked it has no problem rendering realistic boobs that are ridiculously out of scale.

    Marcus – He also would have (no doubt) scandalized all of Paris high society with Ms Monroe. I kind of wish I could see that.

    Paris society at the turn of the century was notoriously not shocked by sexy women. It was quite cruel to Camille Claudel who was IMO, a better sculptor than her former teacher and lover Rodin. The Waltz is stunning. There is a Rodin bust of Camille in armor, and a Claudel bust of Rodin at the link. He is very staid, traditional classical Greek in his style, while she is far more transgressive and abstract.

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rodin is famous for putting oversized hands on his sculptures, but they generally had the correct number of fingers.

  9. says

    Hmmm, could it be that comic book artist Rob Liefeld is an early AI? It would explain his penchant for drawing people with far too many teeth in their mouths, his odd feet, and his other anatomical faults.

  10. Tethys says

    I find it very comforting to look at Da Vinci and Michelangelo’s sketches and see them encounter the same issues I do when drawing. Da Vinci messed up the hand in the top right corner badly enough that he abandoned it.

    You can see how the original outlines of Michelangelo’s sketch are refined and proportions adjusted as he adds in the fine details.

    Both artists used cadavers to understand human anatomy. The underlying bones and connective tissues are frequently included in their anatomical studies.

  11. Ridana says

    @ahcuah Loved the handshakes. :D
    These seem to be generated by a different AI system, but somehow it seems to have gotten teeth down pretty well at least. Most of them are actually a bit unnerving if you’re worried about deep fakes, with only a few really obvious flaws in hair or ear details.
    (dunno if it’s my browser or what, but I had to refresh each time to get new images.)

  12. outis says

    It’s very strange: Midjourney can do decent faces, and they are at least as hard as hands. So what’s the hangup?
    Did someone speculate it could be an intentional error, left there so nobody can use the results as they are?
    This said, that Gigeresque angel is *dang impressive*, I’d really love to have it at home. Even if I am not sure what’s going on with its arms and legs and hands…

  13. Dunc says

    Midjourney can do decent faces, and they are at least as hard as hands.

    The article ahcuah linked to @ #13 explains this:

    “It’s generally understood that within AI datasets, human images display hands less visibly than they do faces,” a Stability AI spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “Hands also tend to be much smaller in the source images, as they are relatively rarely visible in large form.”

    There’s more detail at the link.

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