The best AI art tutorials: how to use text-to-image generators
AI art tutorials are a good place to start if you’re looking to experiment with AI image generators, or if you’ve already tried using them but aren’t getting the results you hoped for. While controversial, AI art is attracting curiosity from artists and non-artists alike, but many find that their initial experiments don’t quite come out like the images they’ve seen on social media.
How are people using AI art generators to create photorealistic images or specific artistic styles when the text-to-image AI tools churn out so many deformed faces and hands with six fingers? Well, the AI art tutorials we’ve collected below should help with that.
The ease of access to AI art generators has created a broad community of users, so there’s no shortage of AI art tutorials out there, covering everything from getting started to prompt design, parameters, editing images and how to upscale AI art. We’ve rounded up our pick of the most useful that we’ve seen, including the best Midjourney tutorials, DALL-E 2 tutorials, Stable Diffusion tutorials and more.
Remember that AI art remains controversial and many artists have serious reservations about it. See the question section at the bottom for FAQs on AI art. But if you’re curious to explore how it works and whether there’s a place for AI art in your creative workflow, here’s our pick of the best AI art tutorials to start with. You might also want to see our basic guide to how to use DALL-E 2.
The best AI art tutorials
We’ve divided our pick of the best AI art tutorials into sections for the best Midjourney tutorials, DALL-E 2 tutorials, Stable Diffusion tutorials and other AI art tutorials. Use the quick links to jump to the section you want or scroll down to browse. If you’re looking to combine AI image generation with other creative tools, we also have roundups of the best Photoshop tutorials, Illustrator tutorials and After Effects tutorials.
The best Midjourney tutorials
01. Ultimate Midjourney guide: beginner to advanced
Updated in April 2023, this comprehensive Midjourney AI art tutorial from Obscurious (opens in new tab) provides a thorough guide to one of the most popular AI image generators. Obscurious admits that he’s spent an “outrageous amount of time” experimenting with the AI model, and his Midjourney (opens in new tab) tutorial covers everything from how to access the tool via bots on Discord to choosing your settings, how the different parameters work, how to create specific types of images, including photorealism and logos, and how to use the new ‘/describe’ command. The tutorial is clear and detailed but wonderfully concise and to the point.
02. Prompt tips for Midjourney V.5
Midjourney V.5 was released in March 2023 and provided a pretty massive upgrade on the previous model, especially when it comes to photorealism. In this Midjourney video tutorial, Theoretically Media (opens in new tab) provides a straight-forward breakdown of how to approach prompting in the new model, with some tips for getting the best results.
03. Midjourney V.5 style prompt tips and reference tricks
Many newcomers to Midjourney have a frustrating experience when trying to create a specific image they might have in mind, be it in terms of style or posing. In this AI art tutorial, Theoretically Media explores how output can be controlled using ‘style by’ in the prompt as well as how to help avoid the AI model ignoring parts of your prompt.
04. Building the perfect prompt for Midjourney
If you have more time on your hands, this lengthy delve into Midjourney (actually the second part of two) is well worth digesting. Analog Dreams (opens in new tab) describes it as a masterclass, and this is one occasion where that isn’t an overstatement. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, it goes deeper into promptcrafting, with examples of how to flesh out wording with styles and inspirations as well as parameters.
05. How to use separators in Midjourney prompts
Still sticking with prompts, this Midjourney tutorial focuses specifically on the different separators that you can use in them. Thaeyne (opens in new tab) shows the impact that punctuation choice (colon, vertical bar, parentheses, backslash, dashes and so on) can have on the results, with 60 clear examples.
06. Midjourney Blend tutorial
Analog Dreams also has a dedicated AI art tutorial on one of Midjourney’s newest features, Blend, which can be used to combine up to five images. The tutorial shows examples of what the tool can do, what kind of images work best, what its limitations are and how to enable Remix in order to edit blended images using prompts.
07. Why you need to use seed in Midjourney
Seed is perhaps one of the least understood parameters in image creation with generative AI. You might have noticed that repeating the same prompt in an AI art generator can result in wildly different results each time. A seed is an identifier for each individual image that you generate, By using a seed number as a parameter, you can generate images similar to one you’ve already generated, helping to eliminate some of that ‘randomness’. In this quick AI art tutorial, Glibatree (opens in new tab) shows how it works, and how you can use it to learn how different words affect your prompt and avoid starting from scratch with each new image generation.
08. How to transform sketches into masterpieces in Midjourney
AI art doesn’t have to mean leaving the machine to do all of the work; you can also use AI image generators to transform your own drawings, using prompts to develop them into particular styles. In this AI art tutorial, Samson Vowles (opens in new tab) shows how he uses Midjourney to transform rough sketches by uploading his drawings, matching the aspect ratio, adding prompts and then further building on the results.
09. Make a children’s story book in 10 minutes using Midjourney
So we can use Midjourney to create some impressive images, but what about telling a whole story? That requires a coherent look and consistent characters. In this ten-minute Midjourney tutorial, Easy EZ demonstrates his process, which also involves the use of Photoshop to put the layout together and Chat GPT to generate the story. We’re not saying that the results can compare to the best character design, but it’s an interesting experiment in what can be done with AI (you might want to use the seed parameter discussed in the previous tutorial to aid consistency.
10. How to photobash in Midjourney
It’s a common practice to generate different images in Midjourney and then combine them in Photoshop, but this tutorial from Theoretically Media (opens in new tab) takes a different approach. It shows how some very rough photobashing in an image editing program can be polished in Midjourney (at least to an extent), providing another possible way to achieve the image you want if you’re finding that prompts aren’t getting you there. You could photobash using your own images, images generated by AI or by using images from one of the best stock photo libraries.
The best DALL-E 2 tutorials
01. How to use DALL-E 2
DALL-E 2 (opens in new tab) is one of the easiest AI image generators to get started with since it’s a little more intuitive. There’s no need to run any code, communicate with a bot or sign up for a social media platform. This quick DALL-E 2 tutorial from Tech Express (opens in new tab) makes getting started even easier, breaking down the process in a way that’s very easy to follow, from signing up to buying credits and writing prompts.
02. DALL-E 2 inpainting/editing demo
Now I said that using DALL-E 2 is easy, but getting decent results using reference images is a different story. “Inpainting” is the term DALL-E 2 uses to refer to editing your own images, or previously generated images using its generative AI. You can upload an image and use prompts to manipulate it and add new elements. As we see in the demo, the results can be extremely hit-and-miss, but Bakz T. Future (opens in new tab) suggests a couple of ideas for troubleshooting.
03. DALL-E 2 real-time outpainting tutorial
While ‘inpainting’ refers to editing inside the frame of an image, ‘outpainting’ refers to editing beyond those borders, effectively expanding, or ‘uncropping’ an image. In works in a similar way to inpainting, but there are a few things to bear in mind about how to upload your starting image. The nice thing about this DALL-E 2 tutorial (opens in new tab) from ArtistsJourney is that it’s filmed in real time, so we see the whole process (there’s no ‘now draw the rest of the owl’).
The best Stable Diffusion tutorials
01. How to install Stable Diffusion in Windows in five minutes
One of the hardest things about Stable Diffusion (opens in new tab) for those not familiar with the tech is getting started, at least if you want to use it directly rather than via a third party’s implementation of the model. There are online versions of Stable Diffusion, including Stability AI’s own Dream Studio (opens in new tab), but since it’s open source, you can also use Stable Diffusion for free… with a little bit of work to get set up. This Stable Diffusion tutorial from Royal Skies (opens in new tab) quickly and succinctly summarises the process for installing the model on Windows with not a word wasted (you’ll probably need to pause it a few times).
02. How to install Stable Diffusion on Mac
Using a Mac? No problem. Analog Dreams (opens in new tab) has a Stable Diffusion tutorial showing a straightforward option for installing it on MacOS by downloading a single file. You’ll need at least an M1 Mac. 16GB is recommended for running the program, but 8GB seems to cope.
03. How to use Google Collab to run Stable Diffusion
Another way to run Stable diffusion – and with no major technical requirements – is in your browser via Google Collab. This AI art tutorial from The Digital Dilettante (opens in new tab) shows how to run it, what it looks like and how to use it. It might look a little intimidating if you’re not used to looking at code, but you don’t need to know how to code, and this is a free way to use the open-source model. You’ll need a Google account and to join Hugging Face.
04. Run Automatic1111 Stable Diffusion on Google Collab
If you want to use Stable Diffusion in Google Collab with a more friendly user interface, here’s another option that you might want to try out. It’s quick, and the tutorial also provides a walk-through of the Automatic1111 UI and the options available for image generation. This is an accessible way to start with Stable Diffusion without local installation or a powerful computer.
05. Stable Diffusion prompt guide
This Stable Diffusion tutorial from AI fan Nerdy Rodent (opens in new tab) offers a good primer on how to use prompts to generate images using the AI model. We see which words work (and which really don’t) as wel as how things like word order and punctuation can impact the resulting images.
06. Stable Diffusion settings explained
Know how to write a prompt but wondering what all the different Stable Diffusion settings mean? In the Stable Diffusion tutorial above, the ever energetic and direct Royal Skies talks us through them all, from sample steps to batch count, CFG and seed. He has individual tutorials on several of the settings.
07. How to make AI videos with Stable Diffusion
In this AI art tutorial, self-confessed tech nerd Matt Wolfe (opens in new tab) explores how animations can be made using Stable Diffusion Automatic 1111 and the Deforum add-on. It’s a lengthy deep dive, and the interview format is a little unusual for a tutorial, but if you’re interested in creating moving images with Stable Diffusion, this video provides a good overview of the tabs and settings provided in Deforum, including how options in the Keyframes tab can be used to change angles and zoom. You’ll need to be running Stable Diffusion locally or on a cloud server (the tutorial is based on running it in RunDiffusion (opens in new tab).
08. Inject yourself into the AI and make any image with your face
Think you can do better than Donald Trump’s NFT trading cards? Well, this Stable Diffusion tutorial shows how you can put your face into any scene. There are easy-to-use Stable Diffusion-based apps that can do this, but they have a cost and and often limit you to certain styles. You can do the same thing with more freedom for free if you’re running Stable Diffusion yourself. This guided AI art tutorial is quick, to the point and easy to follow.
Other AI art tutorials
01. A first look at Adobe Firefly
If there remained any doubt about whether text-to-image AI art was here to stay, that changed with the launch of Adobe Firefly (opens in new tab). The giant of creative apps entering the space is sure to make the tech more mainstream in all kinds of fields. Still in beta, Adobe Firefly is among the easiest AI image generators to use thanks to a more user-friendly UI, and it promises that its model is trained only on work by artists who have given permission.
The UI guides the user more, providing preset styles to choose from, although this means you don’t get the same level of control through prompting that you have with generators like Stable Diffusion. It’s also the only AI art generator that can generate text (at least so far). In the tutorial above web designer Payton Clark Smith (opens in new tab) demonstrates how both the image generator and the Firefly text effects tools work.
02. How to use AI art for product photography
AI image generators can create some stunning imagery, but what are the practical uses? Anyone proclaiming the death of photography is getting a little ahead of themselves because AI can’t create an image of something it hasn’t seen. However, many people are finding ways to combine AI art with photography and incorporate it into their workflows. In the AI art tutoria (opens in new tab)l above, the Austrian food and product photographer Oliver Fox demonstrates how he’s using Midjourney to create backgrounds and props that can then be combined with photographs in post-production to create impressive product photography.
03. How to upscale AI art
One of the problems with AI art is its size. Most AI image generators only render quite a small image, which might be fine for use on social media, but it doesn’t have the resolution necessary for use at a larger scale or for print. There are ways to deal with that, however. In this AI art tutorial, Analog Dreams shows how to upscale AI art. He uses Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI (opens in new tab) to upscale his images, but there are also other software programs out there.
04. How to prepare AI art for sale
Finally, this AI art tutorial from digital artist Vladimir Chopine (opens in new tab) considers the market for AI art and how to sell AI art. Part of this again involves upscaling images to make them large enough to use, but Chopine also looks at making finishing touches in Photoshop and offers some pointers on things to consider when looking to sell AI art, including where to sell it and how to present it in order to stand out.
What is AI art?
How is AI art made?
How is AI trained to make art?
Is AI art really art?
Is AI art legal?
Who owns AI art?
Can AI art be copyrighted?
What about work that combines the two things? Say an original photograph combined with an AI-generated background? In this case, copyright can protect parts that have been created or modified by a human but not the entire work.
Can artists make money with AI art?
Do AI art generators make money?
Artists slam Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster art & claim it’s “AI generated” – Dexerto
Fans of the long-dormant Duke Nukem series were elated to see a remaster of the first 2 games getting announced, but that excitement has been dampened by people calling out the game’s key art for being “AI generated”.
AI has been rapidly developing as of late, getting implemented in an increasing number of ways for people to generate images and text by feeding certain AI programs a prompt to work from.
AI art has become just as controversial as it has been prominent, and people are increasingly wary of AI-generated images replacing the work of real artists.
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When the promotional art for the Duke Nukem 1 + 2 Remasters released, the joy of many fans was traded out for disdain, with many claiming that the art wasn’t created by an actual artist. To prove their point, several artists put together a detailed analysis of the image to try and explain why they think the artist that was hired didn’t do all his work by hand.
Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster under fire for “AI generated” art
When AI art first started taking the internet by storm, it was pretty easy to discern what was and wasn’t real. Though some images were more convincing than others, things like hands, facial expressions, and other small details didn’t quite line up with what a human artist would produce.
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However, as the technology rapidly advances, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference. For instance, the cover art for a book by the name of Bob the Wizard was exposed as being AI generated after it won a cover art contest, with the author of the book now working with a different artist to replace it.
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Now, Duke Nukem fans and artists are calling out Oskar Manuel, claiming that he used AI to generate the cover for the Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster under the nose of Evercade, the company promoting the remaster.
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It hasn’t been confirmed by the artist or Evercade whether or not Manuel used AI in the production of art for the title, but several artists and gamers have swarmed the account, claiming that art from Manuel’s portfolio seems to be AI-generated.
One artist went out of their way to mark the places in which they think the art most clearly shows its faults and other examples of art from Manuel’s portfolio that includes things like clocks with no hands and characters with 6 fingers.
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Neither Evercade nor Manuel have commented further on the matter at the time of writing, and the story is still developing.
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Head to the Vancouver Art Gallery for Fashion Fictions,
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Poland's quest to retrieve priceless Nazi-looted art – BBC
When the Nazis occupied Poland in World War Two, many of the country’s priceless pieces of art were stolen.
One of those was Madonna with Child, a 16th Century painting attributed to Italian Alessandro Turchi. A Nazi official who oversaw the looting of art included the painting on a list of hundreds taken from occupied Poland.
It is one of 600 looted artworks that Poland has managed to successfully bring home, but more than 66,000 so-called war losses are yet to be recovered.
Poland recently launched a campaign seeking the return of hundreds of thousands artworks and other cultural items still missing after German and Soviet occupations in World War Two. It is also seeking $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for damage incurred by occupying Nazis.
Experts believe more art will be discovered with the passage of time as heirs to looted artwork attempt to sell pieces without being aware of their history.
Madonna with Child is thought to have been transferred to Germany in 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The Nazis often looted art belonging to Jewish families before killing them.
The painting was included on a list of 521 artworks in occupied Poland compiled by Kajetan Mühlmann, a Nazi official who oversaw the looting of art.
The painting reappeared in the 1990s, when it was sold at a New York auction.
It was due to be auctioned in January last year, but the sale was halted after Polish authorities spotted the piece. Once it was proven to be the looted painting, the auction house and the painting’s owner agreed to return it to Poland. An official handing-over ceremony took place in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Polish art historian Natalia Cetera said the return of masterpieces like Madonna with Child help restore pride in the country’s art heritage.
Poland had Rembrandt and Raphael pieces stolen, as well as internationally recognised Polish masterpieces, she said.
“So whenever there is this situation where the artworks come back to Polish collections, you feel proud because it shows the importance of Polish collections that is sometimes forgotten,” Ms Cetera told the BBC.
“It means we have some strong focus on remembering our heritage, our collections and the strength we used to have in art, because this is something we tried to rebuild after the war and this is a long process to be recognised again.”
Ms Cetera says she believes there has been a shift in recent years in cultural heritage “being seen as a common good”.
Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, has spent more than 30 years finding missing masterpieces. He believes that more pieces could start showing up as looted artwork gets handed down to the next generation, with the new heirs unaware of their history.
“We’re talking about a generation ago now and these looted objects are being left to their heirs when the possessors pass away and the children don’t necessarily know the history and they decide to sell it,” Mr Marinello said.
Polish authorities have recorded stolen pieces of artwork on Interpol and other private and government databases.
“There’s also a great number of art historians out there who are doing research of looted artworks from Poland and they’re spotting them too,” Mr Marinello said.
“The more that tech improves and auction houses start to post everything online, there’s more eyes looking for the objects that have been looted.”
Mr Marinello believes there is also a “generational shift” in attitudes to stolen masterpieces. He’s currently working on a case where a man in Chicago contacted him about a piece he believed his grandfather stole from a German museum in World War Two.
“They’d had it for an entire generation and now they realise that they can’t sell it and that they would rather give it back than have any more trouble over the issue.”
But the law varies from country to country, and sometimes a stolen piece can only be returned with the goodwill of the current owner.
Japan, where Madonna with Child was found, “is not a great country to recover stolen art from”, Mr Marinello says.
“It’s really up to the possessor in many cases to do the right thing… to understand that something was looted or stolen and that it should be returned, because you can’t rely on a lawsuit under Japanese law,” he said.
Ms Cetera said that the successful retrieval of Madonna with Child was a source of pride, but is unsure whether the passion for bringing stolen artwork back to Poland will continue with future generations.
“The question is whether it is important to the next generation – Gen Z and younger generations, do they really care? From what I observe, this might not be the case,” she said.
Digitised art collections might mean people losing interest in the physical form, she said.
“At some point maybe we won’t have to retrieve artworks… because we will have it in the Cloud and we will be able to reach it any time anywhere, no matter who has it.
“This digitisation and tech that is coming might at some point suppress the need of retrieving physical artworks.”
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