The magic of AI art

posted in: Life and things | 0

I mentioned last week that I’ve found a wonderful new way of being creative – Midjourney. It’s a website that uses Artificial Intelligence to create images based on a prompt entered by people like me. /imagine followed by whatever you’d like to see. The AI is learning all the time from choices people make, refining its algorithms. I’ll admit to being addicted – but so are quite a few of my online friends.

The art isn’t something I’d think about selling (even if my stuff was in that class) but it’s more than useful in visualising a scene you might want to use in a book. For my early dabble in the Midjourney world I asked for a picture of what I’d envisioned as the opening paragraphs of my story The Thunder Egg.

“THE MIST HAD THICKENED. Two minutes ago, Afra had been able to read the writing on the shop fronts. Now, she could hardly see the signs. Her pulse pounded. She shouldn’t have come this way, even if it was the fastest route back to the spaceport. She walked on, the sound of her footsteps muffled in the heavy air. Just a few more blocks and she’d be out of Old Port and its narrow, winding, cobblestoned alleys. Huh. The tourists thought it was picturesque. It was a great place to get mugged.”

I used the prompt “York shambles, cobblestoned street, mist, night, spooky, medieval buildings, woman walks toward viewer.”

Here’s what I got.

 From there I selected the bottom left image and ended up with this.

I thought that wasn’t bad at all. But I’ve learned a bit more since then and this is what I’ve come up with for this scene.

So then I wondered how Midjourney would go at creating a picture of little Neyru, who is the star of the story and an entirely fantasy character. Here’s the description Drew gives when he explains how he found out his thunder egg was a real egg.

“The thunder egg fell off the shelf where I’d put it, which was odd. I suppose she must have rocked it. When it hit the floor, it started to split and I realized there was something inside. I recall wondering if it would turn out to be some nasty, dangerous, alien creature. Until I saw her. She was half the size she is now, a little damp bundle. I’ll admit I was startled and felt useless. What did I know about little alien hatchlings? But as it happened, I’d arranged to eat in my cabin and she dived on my dinner, steak with a salad. She ate steak till she was full, then sort of looked at me with those wonderful eyes like black holes and I was lost.”

I started with “cute baby Pern dragon, pretty, smooth, 3D, sitting on hard floor, realistic.” which resulted in this.

After a couple of iterations on image 1 (top left) I ended up with this,

I think she’s utterly adorable.

There’s so much you can do with this amazing tool. Its forte is landscapes. I was able to very quickly turn out the wonderful Pilbara landscape at the top of the post. It does buildings, too, and if you’re patient enough to run lots of iterations, you get great people, horses, fantasy critters – whatever you can imagine.

A gothic cathedral

After many, many iterations, it was able to create instantly recognizable horses.

It’s not half bad
It can do medieval castles
And women bringing in the crops before the storm
Old lady in a garden

For everybody saying ‘that’s not art’… let me show you a picture of a painting that’s worth something like $20 million. It hangs in the Hermitage in St Petersburg.

It’s a ‘painting’ by Malevich, entitled ‘Black Square’. He was apparently delighted with the idea because he painted four of them. This one is the fourth. I expect he added some detail.

We already use products like Photoshop to make photos into art. I’m thinking it’s just another tool that some people will use well. We do need to make some decisions on copyright, however. I wouldn’t be trying to sell any of my creations. But it’s bloody good fun.

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