This AI image generator makes cursed Pokemon art, but it's weirdly obsessed with butterflies

Pokemon
(Image credit: TPC)

A new AI image generator lets you conjure imaginary Pokemon based on a prompt of your choice, but it seems biased towards one bug-type in particular.

Lambdal (opens in new tab) is an AI image generator created by developer Justin Pinkney. Much like Dall-E, which shot to prominence with its surreal (if blurry) images earlier this year, the tool takes a written prompt, and generates a unique picture. Pinkney took that tool, and trained it on captioned images. Those captions weren't perfect, as they were also generated by a separate AI, but they helped give Pinkney and Lambdal a baseline of almost 1,000 images to work with.

Plugged into the system, the images can now be used to create AI-generated Pokemon. Pinkney's initial suggestions include a leafy version of Yoda, several unsettling politician-themed 'mons, and a collection of adorable Totoros, but the possibilities are pretty much endless.

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That said, Lambdal does appear to favour a specific design. I've been playing around with it for a while, and I've noticed a pattern based on Vivillon, a butterfly Pokemon introduced in Pokemon X and Y that comes in a number of forms all with a noticeable pixel-art style. Echoes of that style have shown up a whole bunch of times, based on prompts ranging from my boss' Twitter handle to Darth Vader. It's a phenomenon reminiscent of Carcinisation, a term used to outline the way in which multiple species throughout evolutionary history have, independently of one another, ended up as crabs.

It's not clear why that might have happened, but I've seen too many slightly round, pixel-y fakemons to believe that it's just my eyes playing tricks on me. It might have something to do with the fact that Vivillon's 20 different forms could disproportionately affect the AI tool, but it's far from the only Pokemon to boast a suite of different appearances, so perhaps Lambdal just really likes butterflies.

Lambdal was released last week, and has already been used to generate more than 200,000 mons. You can give it a go right at the link at the top of the article (you'll need a GitHub account to input your own prompts) - just don't be upset if it steers clear of flying or fire-types.

With Pokemon Scarlet and Violet on the horizon, who knows what new concoctions could soon appear?

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.