When I first saw the cartoon avatar appear on my Facebook feed, my eyes went as wide as the cherubic rendering before me. It was my cousin’s daughters, but Disney-fied, with lighting that glowed, and supersize eyes quivering with emotion. “Which app is this?” I asked her, instantly needing to know. She told me: Voila AI Artist.
There’s something about avatars I find irresistibly compelling, from the very first Yahoo Messenger avatar I ever used, to Bitmoji stickers and beyond, as if our cartoon selves have the power to capture a core essence while outstretching a more playful version of ourselves. At any rate, it took less than five minutes to download Voila AI Artist and make my first cartoon grid. I also learned a few things along the way. Here’s how to do it and what to know.
How to make your cartoon avatar using Voila AI Artist
Step 1: Download Voila AI Artist for iPhone or Android, and launch the app. It will ask for permission to use your phone’s camera roll.
Step 2: Select from among the four styles: 3D Cartoon (what I used here), Renaissance, 2D Cartoon and Caricature. Tap the arrow to begin.
Step 3: Your camera roll is now open. Select the photo you want to use, or tap Camera or Celebrities at the bottom of the screen to take a new picture or to search for celebrities. This generates a grid of four options. On the free version, expect to see an ad or two interrupt your view. After a few beats, you can X out the ad and return to your images.
Step 4: You’ll see four options — the composite grid of your original photo plus your three cartoon renderings, and all three renderings (Royalty 3D, Baby 3D and Cartoon 3D). You can either take a screenshot from here and crop it down, or select any of the four options and click the edit button — an up arrow on Android — to immediately share on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, or to email, save or share through other options (when you press More).
To remove the watermark, speed up the rendering process and remove the ads you see each time you render, you could update to the Voila Pro version for $2 per week, $4 per month or $21 a year — the price at the time of writing. There’s a free, three-day trial with that option.
What doesn’t work well with Voila AI Artist
- Nonhumans, such as dogs or cats
- Images where the app says faces can’t be detected
- Images of cut-off heads often work, but with an odd halo the app fills in
A note on Viola AI Artist privacy
From what we can tell, although the app’s parent company says it will delete your photos 24-48 hours after the photo was last used by the app, it does collect personally identifying information about you, your phone and your activity online.
It then shares that personal data with third-party partners and advertisers in countries outside your own, including advertisers that may track your activity across the web. The app also discloses your personal information to any of its sibling companies, affiliates or subcontractors.
“When you use the free version of the App, we work with advertising partners to display advertisements within the App. These advertisements are delivered by our advertising partners and may be targeted based on your use of the App or your activity elsewhere online.”
CNET has reached out to WeImagine.Ai for comment and clarification.
CNET privacy writer Rae Hodge contributed to this story.