This Fursona Does Not Exist

arfa

Furry site uses machine learning to generate your new fursona

These fursonas do not exist. But they could.

May 13, 2020, 4:52 pm*

Internet Culture

Ana Valens 

Ana Valens

Good news for furries in need of a fursona: There’s now a website with artificial intelligence that can develop your next anthropomorphic original character. This Fursona Does Not Exist uses machine learning to generate an endless number of unique furry character portraits.

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But if you're not familiar with the world of furries, the concept of a fursona may at first be hard to grasp.

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What is a fursona?

A fursona is a character that represents a member of the furry fandom. Fursonas' roles vary from person to person. Some identify deeply with their fursona, whereas others treat their fursonas more like original characters. Fursonas can be hyperrealistic, fantastical, extremely animal-like, or look more like anime anthropomorphic characters. Vampires, aliens, demons, and mythological beings are all possibilities, as well, WikiFur notes.

Sariya Melody is a furry in their mid-20s who has had "some kind of not-entirely-human persona" for at least a decade, they told the Daily Dot. At 12-years-old, they commissioned cheetah fursona artwork. These days, they regularly commission artwork of their Android otter (or "neptunian aesthetic synthetic being" with serial number HLY-11641-β, if you will) also named Sariya.

"To me, my fursonas are a reflection of myself in both a form I find more aesthetically pleasing and more reflective of myself than I can easily express in the meat world," Melody said. "Beyond that they're characters I can use in art too!"

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Adult artwork of fursonas is very common, albeit it's not a universal experience. The '90s and 2000s furry community regularly fought over adult content's place in the furry fandom, singling out kinky and queer furries in particular. While tension has since cooled, each furry has their own comfort level with yiff (or furry sex) dictated by many factors, including gender, sexuality, and their social circle.

"Lewd art is uhhhhhhh…. fairly prevalent within my communities," Melody said. "My armchair psychologist says it's because I'm around a lot of trans people and lewd furry art allows for the expression of an idealized self engaging in sexuality devoid of stigma. Not to even mention the folks who are interested in it because it allows them to engage in something physically 'impossible' (vore, macro/micro, transformation)."

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What is This Fursona Does Not Exist?

This Fursona Does Not Exist by programmer Arfa is a fursona maker that spits out a random mosaic of furry portraits. The website can render an enormous number of styles, from realistic anthropomorphic characters to designs inspired by anime catgirls. All images are "non-copyrightable" and thus open to the public's use, its creator writes. Unfortunately for My Little Pony fans, ponies and scalies (reptile characters) were omitted from the process, but mammals including foxes to wolves made the cut.

"This looks like a Zoom meeting with 4chan," one Hacker News commenter wrote.

Arfa's machine-learning AI spent 33 days training on over 50,000 images from furry imageboard e621. But This Fursona Does Not Exist only creates completely original images, as demonstrated by a video Arfa shared on Twitter.

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"You can see that it is able to smoothly transition between images of Zootopia characters and other characters, which indicates that it has learned a lot more about the actual features [of furry characters]," Arfa said on Hacker News.

Arfa first began working on This Fursona Does Not Exist in mid-February after being inspired by a similar anime-themed machine learning site, This Waifu Does Not Exist, he told the Daily Dot. Once Arfa read an explanation of the anime character creator, he realized furries could also be generated through a machine learning AI.

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"The original outputs weren't very impressive, but with enough training, they eventually improve," he said.

Fursona AI Furry
Early fursonas generated by arfa's machine learning AI. arfa (Fair Use) Ana Valens
Fursona Examples Machine Learning
Fursonas rendered by the published AI.
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Fursonas came into existence thanks to furry artists working together with clients like Melody. Arfa, who has been in the furry fandom since 2017, suggests AI may soon be an avenue for creating fursonas, as well.

"At the rate AI is improving, I think we're only a few years away from being able to customize fursonas like a character creator in a video game," he told the Daily Dot. "It's exciting, but a bit scary as well."

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*First Published: May 8, 2020, 12:35 pm