As the designated artist round these here parts (and isn’t that a strange role for me to have fallen into. Also, proof that if you live long enough, you change profoundly) I’ve been playing with MidJourney for fun and profit for a few months now. Time flies. As does fruit if you propel it fast enough.
I’d said at the beginning of this that the AI tools were only going to get better. About a week ago now, MJ leveled up. Also, there are quite a few other options now, if you are looking to dabble in AI art, but I’ve been using this one as my sandbox. It’s fun, it’s becoming familiar, and there’s often new things to experiment with. I thought I’d get bored, but no. No I am not.
This post is going to dig into the nitty gritty of MJ in particular. If you are just starting out, I recommend reading the help pages over there. If you are getting serious about it, you should pick up Jack Wylder’s book on Ai art prompts, he’s far more an expert than I ever will be.
Version 4 is still in the infancy stages – you can’t change aspect ratios, the images are low-resolution – but it’s already a marked leap forward from what was possible before. Sure, the AI can’t do hands. Neither can most human artists. This is what post-processing in Affinity Photo is for, or Procreate (I don’t use nor recommend the big subscription software any longer). Regardless, a lot of what you can get is eminently usable in the same place you’d have used stock art before, for book covers, blog headers, promotion graphics, and so on.
The prompt I used for the exemplar image that I’ve chosen is:
cutaway view, experiment on translucent liquid sphere terrarium aquaponic pine bonsai, hyperdetailed –v 4
Note that V4 modifier.
This is the initial result:
There are ways to work around what V4 gives you – and I’m guessing these won’t be needed for long, but it’s still interesting to see how the machine learns and can be used.
The result is now 2048px square, and I happen to know that at this size you can use it for an ebook and a print cover, not to mention actual prints. I’ve been happily playing with improbable art for some time, since the afternoon where I fired up my wide-format inkjet printer and tried to make a mess out of MJ images… and failed. I could, and did, print up to 13″x19″ without pixelization or excess loss of details. They look amazing, and I have at least one framed and hanging on my wall.
But! What happens if you take this result, which offers you even more options, and push it further?
Finally, I tried out “Detailed Upscale Redo” to see what I’d get. Immensely more detail, leading to a somewhat cluttered image, and the return of the characteristic MidJourney noise. The resolution here, interestingly, is 1536px square, a reduction from it’s parent image.
I could, by they way, keep on iterating with this image. I know from experience that I’m likely to see more distortion the longer I do this, however. Usually a few iterations is good. Too many, and you start to get frankly Lovecraftian. If I were anthromorphizing MJ (which I totally do, all the time) I’d say it gets confused about what I want, and starts adding or subtracting. Because this particular AI is not collaging from images it’s been trained on, but rather rebuilding techniques to create images based on my prompts, it’s going to have trouble with things like, say, anatomy. However, V4 has made a giant leap forward in terms of stuff like, say, horses. Or Battle Unicorns.
It’s also gotten better at scenes, like the SciFi coffee shop I used as a header image.