Stable Diffusion gives QR codes artistic makeover

QR codes don’t have to be boring. Thanks to Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image generator, they can be aesthetically pleasing.

A collection of QR codes rendered in artistic styles ranging from traditional Chinese ink brush painting to modern-day anime were posted on a Reddit forum and have gone viral.

Shared on r/StableDiffusion by a user named “nhciao,” the fully-functional QR codes were created using the ControlNet model that allows the addition of extra conditions to prompts on Stable Diffusion.

QR codes, or quick-response codes, originated in 1990s Japan, where they were used to label automobile parts. Since then, they’ve become ubiquitous in numerous other industries, including advertising and services.

Comprising a matrix of black and white squares, QR codes typically store URLs or other data, which can be easily accessed by scanning the code with a smartphone.

The subreddit where the images were posted went dark on Monday (June 12th) and was not accessible for non-members as part of a community-wide protest against Reddit’s controversial plans to charge developers of third-party apps.

However, anyone can still view the images on the creator's blog. The URLs embedded within these images lead to a QR-code generator website run by them.

The blog explained that the idea to make “beautiful” QR codes was born years ago, but it was too difficult to implement. It said that only the robust development of generative AI has made the idea possible.

Here are some of the results, created in different artistic styles, and you can view the rest here.

QR code done in anime style. Image by nhciao/Stable Diffusion
QR code in traditional Chinese pattern. Image by nhciao/Stable Diffusion
QR code done in Japanese ukyo-e style. Image by Image by nhciao/Stable Diffusion
QR code in ink wash painting style. Image by nhciao/Stable Diffusion
Abstract QR code. Image by nhciao/Stable Diffusion

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prefix 10 months ago
These codes are not readable with my app and there are good reasons why many scanners will fail.
QR codes are based on the distinction of two discrete values. Two distinct colors are a great means to decode those. Using colors and not fully matching segments, there seems no deterministic distinction of the 0s and 1s anymore.
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