The popularity of AI art generators is at an all-time high thanks to another leap in technology. Now, anyone can produce stunning images, whether they have ever picked up a paintbrush or not. All you need to do is write a prompt that describes what the image should look like.
As you can imagine, the world’s your oyster. In this article, we’ll explain what computer-generated art really is and how to start creating your own AI images straight away.
What Is AI-Generated Art?
AI-generated art is made by entering a text prompt and allowing a computer to create an image based on the description. These text-to-image systems use a range of complex technology such as deep learning algorithms and generative adversarial networks (GANs).
These terms are difficult to understand on their own, and there are lots of different methods used, so they are often collected under the term AI-generated art. While we haven’t yet reached the stage where computers are sentient, AI art is now so convincing that it can easily fool most of us.
The fun part about computer-generated AI art is you don’t have to know a single thing about how to draw or paint, nor do you need to know anything about computer programming. There are plenty of free apps you can use to generate unique artwork without lifting a paintbrush.
If you want to dig deeper into the different AI technologies, you can read our article on deep learning vs. machine learning vs AI.
Where to Access AI Art Generators
AI art generators can be downloaded as an app or accessed online via web-based applications. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the AI pond, then the best place to start is with one of many AI text-to-image generators available for free.
Some notable names to try are Nightcafe, OpenArt, and Dream by Wombo. They’re free and simple to use and are continuing to improve as the technology gets better.
More recently, Dall-E 2 and Midjourney have garnered a lot of attention for its powerful art generation algorithms that have now entered beta release. Previously, there was a waiting list to access either application, but now anyone can try it out for free.
How to Use AI Art Generators
Most text-to-image AI art generators work in the same way. All you need to do is enter a text prompt and watch the art come to life before your eyes. The results will appear quickly, sometimes in less than a minute, and from there you can download the image or choose to generate another set of images based on the first result.
In the text box, start by entering a sentence that describes the image you want to create. For example, we tried the following prompt using Dall-E: “A digital painting of a girl baking croissants in outer space”.
When you are happy with your sentence, press Enter or the button that says Generate, Create, or similar.
Here are the results that we got:
On most platforms, you can click on the image to preview or download it. Another trick is to look for a button that says Upscale, this will give you the option to download a higher-resolution image.
Many platforms offer free credits to spend on generating art before you need to pay for anything, so if you’re just using it for a bit of fun there are plenty of platforms to try out.
Here are a few detailed guides to some of the most popular AI art generators:
How to Get Better AI Art Results
The best way to improve your results is to tweak the prompt. Try to be specific about what exactly you want in your image, right down to the art style, color, and material.
Because many AI art generators are trained using famous art styles, they can understand terms like “impressionist”, “digital art”, or “watercolor drawing”. You can even ask it to generate art in the style of a famous artist like Van Gogh or Picasso, or to reflect a specific time period.
Here are a few prompt ideas you can try for narrowing down the results:
- A specific artist: “In the style of [artist name]”
- A time period: “A 1920s painting of [object or scene]”
- A painting style: “An Impressionist painting of [object or scene]”
Other modifiers are less obvious but can produce some surprisingly great results. For example, NightCafe explains that using the keyword “unreal engine” will result in images that look like 3D models. That’s because the AI understands that Unreal Engine is a 3D rendering engine largely used for game development.
Crafting a Good Prompt
“Prompt Engineering” is what OpenArt calls the task of crafting a really good prompt in the Stable Diffusion Prompt Book. It suggests that you start with a list of questions about what is it you want to create, then include those answers in your sentence.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Is it a photo, painting, drawing, or 3D model?
- Is the image of an object or a landscape?
- What colors do you want? (Pastel, neon, dark, rainbow)
- Is it made from a specific material? (Plastic, concrete, metal)
- What texture does it have? (Smooth, rough)
Of course, this isn’t all that you can include in your prompt. Much like a real artist, thinking about the kind of lighting you want or what’s in the background will help produce greater images. Even suggesting the emotion of the scene will give you different results.
The good thing is you can combine many of these things into one sentence by separating each idea by a comma. If the result isn’t exactly what you want, try changing the order of words.
In the images below we used the prompt “An acrylic painting of a cow in the desert, vibrant blue sky above, midday, realistic, serene”.
The only difference is we changed the order from “a cow in the desert” to “a desert with a cow in it”. That small change shifted the focus away from the cow to highlight the landscape instead.
Some AI models will give more importance to words that are at the start of a sentence than at the end. So it’s worth spending time experimenting with different sentence variations before abandoning an idea.
Get the Most Out of AI Art Generators
The beauty of computer-generated art using AI is how simple it is. Writing a sentence is all it takes to generate your first AI painting and there are plenty of platforms you can try for free.
Once you get the hang of the process, the next step is to work on crafting really great prompts. Get your imagination flowing and begin thinking about the specific art style, color themes, and lighting you want. It will take a few attempts to get the image just right, but that’s all part of the fun!
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