Edition #2

The future of AI-generated images: DALL-E 2

The future of AI-generated images: DALL-E 2

The future of AI-generated images is here

In today's newsletter, I am going to talk about DALL-E 2, the new artificial intelligence image generator created by OpenAI, one of the biggest companies in the AI space right now.

If you are not familiar with it, DALL-E 2 let's you add any text prompt (i.e. a photo of a delicious pepperoni pizza slice in a white plate), and it will generate a photorealistic image of it in around ~10 seconds.

As crazy as it sounds, for many requests it works terrifyingly good.

Examples of Images Generated by DALL-E 2
Some examples of DALL-E Generated images.

So after ~60 hours of research about DALL-E 2, and with all my background and experience in the creative industry (I own a web design agency since 8 years ago), I will approach this newsletter with 3 questions:

1. What kind of designs can DALL-E create: Along with detailed examples of positive/successful design results.

2. What does this mean for current designers: I am going to be replaced by a robot anytime soon?

3. How to prepare for the future of AI-design: How to take advantage of DALL-E 2, along with some valuable resources to learn more about it.

If you work in the creative industry (design, development, photography, marketing, etc), I highly recommend you to read this in full, I promise it will be worth every second of your time.

What kind of designs can DALL-E create?

After playing around with DALL-E 2 for hours, and using over 1,000 credits (one credit is equal to one request that generates 4 images), I figured out the design applications where it works best.Let's go over each of them:

1. 3D Designs

After trying out many different prompts, I was very surprised that by submitting the right request, DALL-E can generate pretty nice 3D icons.

This can be a game-changer for web designers or graphic designers, among many others, because having the opportunity to use 3D graphics as assets for any website or graphic design work, can easily elevate the final design quality without adding much extra work.

DALL-E 2 3D Icons
Prompt: Very tiny red alarm Clock ⏰ that looks like the iOS emoji and has the same colors, 3D clay render, 4k UHD, white background, isometric top down left view, diffuse lighting, zoomed out very far.

I also got great results with simple 3D characters, such as the ones below.

DALL-E 3D Characters
Prompt: A brightly coloured, cute isometric low polygon 3d render of a scarlet red dragon, white background, ambient occlusion, chibi, angular.

It can produce more complex 3D renders or characters too, however, the more details and polygons added, the less 'polished' the final result is. Here are some examples:

DALL-E Complex 3D Renders
Prompt: Ultra detailed badass red dragon head with scales, 3D cgi rendering unreal engine concept art character design, professional photography cinematic.

That being said, even if the results for high complexity 3D renders are not great, the resulting images can still be a great starting point for 3D character design.

2. Stock Photography

Another great strength of DALL-E is generating realistic photographs, and this is nothing short of amazing.

If you are searching for a very particular image and you are not able to find it on any of the popular stock sites (i.e. Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, etc), DALL-E 2 can be of great help, as it can generate very impressive images, as the 8 I generated below:

DALL-E Stock Photography
Prompt: A pepperoni pizza in a wooden table, macro food photography.

This is by far what impresses me more about DALL-E, because, without looking very specifically into the details, it's close to impossible to guess these are AI-generated images.

While I don't think stock photography will be replaced by AI-generated photos as of today, I believe that in the coming years (3~5 maybe), as the models get better, it is definitely possible that stock photographers won't be spending as much time with cameras, but instead submitting prompts of the photo they are looking for to the computer.

As of today, you can generate pretty specific photos using DALL-E as needed, and use them on any design application or marketing material (we had already done so in our agency, and no one has guessed yet that those are not real pictures).

3. Iconography

Icons seem to be easy work for DALL-E. Similar to the 3D graphics mentioned on point #1, by using the right text prompt, the resulting 3D icons generated by DALL-E are incredible, and here are some examples:

DALL-E Gradient 3D Icons
Prompt: An icon of a paper plane in blue and purple metallic iridescent material, 3D render isometric perspective on dark background.
DALL-E Blue 3D Icons
Prompt: An icon of a cloud in blue metallic material, 3D render isometric perspective on a white background.

Amazing, right? Typically designing 3D icons like this can take tens of hours (we have done it many times for high-end websites), however, in a matter of minutes you can generate a complete set using DALL-E.

4. Logos

It's the turn of logos, one of the most thoughtful and detailed design pieces in the creative industry...

The DALL-E results for logos are pretty variate. While for heavy-graphic logos the results can be pretty promising, and serve as a great starting point, the results for simple logos are not as good.

Here are some examples:

DALL-E Sports Logos
Prompt: NFL sports logo of a red dragon, dark background.
DALL-E Modern Logos
Prompt: Abstract blue high-end premium modern logo of the letter M, featured on 99designs, gradient.

For logos, in particular, I believe if you are designing high-detail logos (i.e. restaurants, sports teams, local businesses, etc), DALL-E can help you save 50-70% of idea concepting time simply by generating many different logo options, and then it's just a matter of choosing the right concepts and direction, and design something completely polished based on it.

5. Faces

Oh, another big category! Faces.

DALL-E can generate photorealistic faces based on any text prompt (only limited to not generating famous or known faces, to avoid fake news and similar problems), and it works terrifically well.

Here are some examples:

DALL-E Faces Photos
Prompt: A photo of a woman, 25 years old, staring into the camera, happy, morning lightning, full face.

However, the powerful thing about DALL-E is that you can really request anything with as much detail as you need, resulting in pretty specific face photos:

DALL-E Face Photos
Prompt: Smiling young white woman with rainbow hair and rainbow makeup, viscous rainbow paint, rainbow bg, portrait

The applications for this are... endless?

From interesting applications such as giving a 'real' face to an AI assistant or generating more realistic avatars on videogames, to shady things like creating fake photos for fake testimonials.

As uncle Ben said: With great power comes great responsibility.

6. Product Concepts

Another interesting DALL-E application is product idea concepting. Just like Paul Yacoubian shared on Twitter, he created a concept of an Avocado Backpack, and then he just send that as an example for the manufacturer to produce it. Simply incredible.

DALL-E Product Concepts

From my side, I tried this out with sneakers too, and it didn't disappoint.

DALL-E Product Concepts
Prompt: Red with white sole single sneaker concept with vibrant colors, photo studio, Amazon product shot, 4K HD, crisp white background, side on shot.

The truth is that my fashion sense is not that great 😅, so there are some more cool product concepts created by DALL-E on the web.

But as you had seen, product idea concepting can be incredibly easy by using DALL-E, and I believe that will be a game changer for many people in the e-commerce industry.

7. Textures

If you ever found yourself searching for textures, you may know how specific they can get. The good thing is DALL-E knows how to generate them easily.

DALL-E Realistic Textures
Prompt: Carrara marble, high detailed texture.

This has many obvious applications, from creating textures for traditional graphic design to creating textures for architecture 3D design, 3D rendering software, or even texture-fixing for 3D models as shared by Shahriar Shahrabi on Twitter.

8. Illustration / Art Images

Last but not least is one of the most fun (but unfortunately not so business-oriented) DALL-E applications: Generation of a variate set of illustrations or art-related images.

The DALL-2 Subreddit is full of incredible examples that will blow your mind as you scroll, however, in most of these, it is hard to find the pragmatical application (it's very fun tho).

Here are some of mine. At this point, you may already guess that I am a big fan of dragons 😂.

DALL-E Illustrations
Prompt: Portrait of a red dragon breathing fire, digital art.
DALL-E Anime Illustrations
Prompt: A kawaii mage cat with white and orange fur, in the style of the famous starry night painting.
DALL-E Paintings
Prompt: Frogs having a tea party at the bottom of a beautiful garden, oil painting.

After going over all of these DALL-E use cases, you may be wondering the next big question:

What does this mean for current designers?

For many designers, it can be scary to see an artificial intelligence create in a matter of seconds something that may take hours for a 'human' designer.

So it raises the natural question: I am going to be replaced by a robot anytime soon? And I believe the short answer is no.

While something like DALL-E can create pretty specific design results (i.e textures, 3D icons, etc), it cannot produce the complete final work (i.e. a website, a brochure, a polished logo, etc), so designers are still needed and will be needed for a long time.

That being said, as of today the cost of using DALL-E is $15 USD for 115 credits (with each credit being equal to one request that results in 4 images), meaning the cost per credit is $0.13, or $0.032 per image.

As you may have guessed, it is not expensive at all, and I believe it is going to get much cheaper as time passes by and more competitors join the AI-image generation space.

So I believe that now more than ever, the gap between 'beginner' and 'expert' designers is expanding more and more.

DALL-E Future

Just like Canva 'commoditized' business cards and slide presentations by offering hundreds of high-quality templates for free, I believe tools like DALL-E will also commoditize stuff like simple 3D illustrations, certain types of graphics, illustrations, and some other things.

But this isn't necessarily bad, as this will incentivize the market to elevate the quality of work, and while this comes with downsides too, I believe there is still a bright future for those who embrace change, new tools, and ongoing learning.

Also, research from other DALL-E competitors (like Google Parti: Pathways Autoregressive Text-to-Image Model) has proven that the more data input the model has, the more the results improve. This means that as DALL-E and other AI-image generation tools evolve, it is only going to get better.

Google Parti Image Generation Model
Prompt 1: A portrait photo of a kangaroo wearing an orange hoodie and blue sunglasses standing on the grass in front of the Sydney Opera House holding a sign on the chest that says Welcome Friends!

Prompt 2: A green sign that says "Very Deep Learning" and is at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Puffy white clouds are in the sky.

Just like my favorite villain of Marvel, one time said:

Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.

— Thanos

Even though some may not like it, it is true that AI-design tools have arrived, and it's better to be prepared.

So that raises our 3rd and last question of today's topic:

How to prepare for the future of AI design?

The nice thing about all of this is that if you are reading this, it means you are already interested in learning about AI design (so kudos to you 🙌🏻).

The next step is to keep learning so you master the tool, so you take advantage of it and not the other way around. So here I share with you a few resources that can be relevant and useful:

  • 📘 The DALL-E 2 Prompt Book: This will give you a detailed intro to how the DALL-E 2 prompts work, and how to customize them to have your desired design results.
  • 📱 DALL-E 2 Instagram&Subreddit: Here you can stay tuned about updates, example prompts that drive good results, and more.
  • ⚙️ Explanation of how DALL-E works: A detailed article by AssemblyAI that explains in detail the technical aspect of how DALL-E 2 works, so you can understand the behind-the-scenes.
  • 🖼️ Use Image Scalers like BigJPG: The resulting images from DALL-E are 1024x1024px, so sometimes the resolution is not big enough to work with the images. However, the good news is that image upscaling works great with most AI-generated images, so you can easily use tools like BigJPG, Icons8, NeroAI, or others to upscale them by 2-4x (and the resulting images look surprisingly good).

DALL-E is getting so popular, that there is even a new marketplace called 🧠 PromptBase, where you can purchase 'prompts' (strings of texts) that work well to produce specific results from DALL-E. Really impressive for something like this to appear so fast.

As time passes, it is very likely that many more software solutions and platforms will integrate with the future DALL-E API to do all sorts of incredible things. So stay tuned about it, as this is just the beginning.

Relevant DALL-E Competitors

Along with the above, I highly recommend you to stay tuned about some of the other relevant DALL-2 competitors (Not all are available yet, but it's likely they will be available in the future).

  • Imagen by Google: One of the Google text-to-image models. Shows pretty impressive results. Not publicly available yet.
  • Google Parti: Sibling model of Imagen by Google. Another Google text-to-image model. Not publicly available yet.
  • Make-A-Scene by Meta: An interesting approach to AI image generation that takes advantage of sketching to create the desired image result. Not publicly available yet.
  • Midjourney: An small independent AI-generation tool that looks very promising. Available in open beta as of right now.

Finally, a short conclusion about all of this:

Take a look, read, experiment, and learn. For me, trying out and learning the basics of DALL-E was very fun, intellectually inspiring, and very interesting.

I honestly believe that DALL-E 2 is the most impressive piece of software that I have tried in my lifetime, and every time I show it to my friends and family, they are just amazed by how it instantly generates images based on a simple line of text.

I believe if you genuinely like design, it won't feel like 'work' to you, but more like learning what seems to be the future of our industry, so it shouldn't be too hard.

As history has told us, typically the ones that adopt new technology sooner, are the ones that benefit most from it, so I'm really confident it will be the same this time.

And that's all for today.

P.S. The beautiful tiny camera 3D icon used in this newsletter cover was created using DALL-E 😉.

Mauro Sicard

Mauro Sicard

CEO @ BRIX Agency and BRIX Templates

Follow me on Twitter, and let's chat.

Comments or Questions

Did you like what you just read?

As a tradition of this newsletter, I always ask a question at the end.

If you liked it, I invite you to reply and answer the question so it is not only a one-way channel of communication (I promise I will reply back).

How do you think AI will shape the world in the next 10 years? I personally have strong beliefs on how AI will shape the way we live, so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts too.

And that's all for today.

P.S. Liked this newsletter? Scroll a little, and subscribe to receive the next one in your inbox.

See you next week!

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