Art with QR codes thanks to Artificial Intelligence

qr codes anime.jpg
qr codes anime.jpg

QR codes, those squares filled with black and white dot patterns, have become commonplace in our everyday lives. We find them in advertisements, products and even in digital payments. However, a Reddit user named “nhciao” has taken these codes to the next level by creating functional anime-style QR codes using the Stable Diffusion image synthesis technique. This innovative combination of technology and art has captured the attention of many on social media and could usher in a new era where QR codes are not only practical tools, but also complex and fascinating works of art.

QR codes: beyond their original function

QR codes, short for “Quick Response,” were originally designed for the automotive industry in Japan. These two-dimensional codes can store a significant amount of data and can be easily scanned with a smartphone or dedicated QR code scanner. Scanning a QR code provides quick access to the encoded information, which can be text, a website URL, or other types of data.

Functional art: the fusion between Stable Diffusion and QR codes

The technique used by nhciao to create these anime-style QR codes is based on the AI-powered image synthesis model called Stable Diffusion. This model, released last year, has the ability to generate images based on text descriptions and transform existing images using the “img2img” technique. Although nhciao has not disclosed in detail the exact method used to create these codes, it is believed that they trained several custom Stable Diffusion ControlNet models, along with LoRA tune-ups, which are conditioned to generate output of different styles. They then fed existing QR codes into Stable Diffusion’s AI image generator and used ControlNet to maintain the position of the QR code data despite synthesizing an image around it, likely using a written instruction as a guide.

The magic of error correction in QR codes

What makes this technique possible is the error correction feature built into QR codes. This error-correcting capability allows a certain percentage of the QR code data to be restored if it is corrupted or obscured, allowing some degree of modification without rendering the code unreadable. In traditional QR codes, this error correction function is used to recover information if part of the code is damaged or dirty. However, in the case of nhciao, this feature has been taken advantage of to combine creativity with functionality. Stable Diffusion adds unique artistic touches to QR codes without compromising their functionality.

Functional art as a new form of expression and marketing

These anime-style QR codes created by nhciao direct users to the URL of a QR code generating website called, possibly run by nhciao itself. Although this technique could be applied to any QR code, it may work better with shorter URLs due to the way QR codes encode data.

This fascinating combination of functional art and technology opens up new possibilities for both digital art and marketing. Previously considered practical tools, QR codes can be transformed into unique pieces of art, adding aesthetic appeal. The positive reaction experienced by nhciao on social media could usher in a new era where QR codes are not only convenience tools, but also interesting and intricate works of art.

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.