A.I. Art for February 2023

A.I. Art for February 2023

Like most endeavors, learning to use A.I. tools takes time and practice. Plus, the tools are in active development, meaning we users are all shooting at a moving target. This is my A.I. art for February 2023. Click the images below to see bigger version. For people using smaller devices, please note that this is an image-heavy post.

Want more? See these previous posts for an intro to AI art and my experiences:
Adventures in AI-Generated ArtMore Fun with A.I. ArtA.I. Art for DecemberA.I. Art for January 2023 

MidJourney (MJ) is now my go-to source for images. I get pretty damn close to what I want (or like even better) about 25% of the time, and get acceptable compromises about 50% of the time. However, with NightCafé (NC), my success rate is suboptimal.

For this month, I gave DALL-E a timeout, as I didn't have enough patience for its wayward behavior. To make up for it, I experimented (it's for science!) by trying to create a similar image using both MJ and NC. 


MidJourney's A.I. Continues to Impress

Here are some successes. Some are what I was looking for, and others are surprises that I didn't know I needed. See the captions for notes on each and the prompt used.

Pleasing A.I. Art from MidJourney

Illustration of a cute cat wearing a spacesuit, generated by MidJourney

Fantasy illustration of a mountain town's main street at twilight, with brightly lit shops and strings of lights overhead, generated by MidJourney

fantasy image of a humanoid male gargoyle standing in front of a gothic window, generated by MidJourney

Prompt: vector flat illustration, cute happy cat in space, spacesuit, spaceship, fun, simple, minimalist, uncluttered, bright red and navy blue and bright teal, clean lines
NOTE: Getting good vector images like cute cats in spacesuits is fairly easy. Harder is getting them to match if you'd like a similar style with dogs or other pets. I expect I'll need to upload an image to get the consistency I'm looking for.
Prompt: watercolor painting, street view of 21st century shopping district, all the stores sell magic items and services, strings of fairy lights above, detailed, fantasy, enchantment, beautiful summer twilight, glowing windows, sidewalks
NOTE: An decent image for the town of Kotoyeesinay, Wyoming, from my Ice Age Shifters paranormal romance series. It's fairly close to what Moira, the heroine of Shift of Destiny, sees when she first arrives. Someday, I'll figure out how to get MJ to show that the stores in this shopping district sell magical items.
Prompt: heroic anthropomorphic gargoyle with metal filigree tattoos, full body in frame, building parapet, by Dan Dos Santos and Trey Ratcliff
NOTE: I spend a fair amount of time looking at prompts/results by others to learn how to improve my own. This one was inspired by someone trying to fuse Black Panther from Wakanda with a gargoyle. Now I want to add this being (with his 6 fingered-hands) into one of my paranormal romances.


Current A.I. Art Limitations

MJ (and the other AI art services) have lingering limitations. For one, MJ is determinedly dyslexic and can't spell even if you explicitly give it the letters. Also, MJ has extremely odd notions about the correct number of mammalian fingers and toes (or equivalent—see gargoyle image above) and the correct number of legs. See my previous post, More Fun with A.I. Art, for more examples.

A more amusing limitation is its short attention span. Poor MJ becomes confused and a bit panicked if you ask it for two main subjects in an image. Especially if they're living creatures. The results can range from bewildering to hilarious. If you ask for a human couple with a cat, at least one of the 4 initial images will give cat ears, and sometimes a whole cat head, to one of the humans. Similarly, if you ask for a dark elf who sells books, and also ask for a cat on the desk, MJ will forget what animal you asked for and throw whatever animal it has handy into the image.

A collage of four illustrations of people, cat-like people, and cats, generated by MidJourney 4 initial images generated by MidJourney of a dark elf holding various animals.

fantasy illustration of a humanoid wearing a spacesuit and dog ears, a woman, and a dog, in a scifi setting, as generated by MidJourney

Prompt: illustration: human African and Asian astronaut couple and their pet alien cat, futuristic homestead desert scene, matte painting in cyberpunk digital style by Luis Royo and Julie Dillon and Sophie Wilkins, ultra-realistic 4K, sci-fi colonization, trending on deviantart, trending on artstation
NOTE: Click the image to see all four draft images. MJ really likes cat people.
Prompt: scholarly male dark elf age 45 who works at a modern store selling magic crystals and books, friendly, grey skin and neat white hair, wearing a maroon velvet coat, carrying a fluffy white kitten, painting by Nikki Dawes and Norman Rockwell and Dan Dos Santos
 NOTE: Click the image to see all four draft images. From upper left across to lower right, the (only) cat is irritated in #1; the elf looks to be holding a bush baby in #2, a fox(?) in #3, and a Shihtzu mix dog in #4.
Prompt: lovers and pets walking hopepunk in space
NOTE: I was trying to create promotional images for the Pets in Space® science fiction anthologies. See what I mean about ears? 


MidJourney Going It's Own Way

MJ will sometimes go off on a wild creative tear whether you want it to or not. Emoji prompts in particular seem to open the floodgates.

Me (expecting a spaceship): Please use these emojis to generate an image: “🚀 🪐 🌠 🌟 ⭐.” 
MJ: “Okay! Here are some lovely fantasy images with birds and clocks!”

Me (expecting a fantasy castle): ” Use these emojis to create an image: 🔮 ✨ 💚 🌄 🏰” 
MJ: “Okay! Here's a pretty Black woman with purple flowers in her hair!”

Me (tweaking the spaceship emojis): “🚡 🚀 ☄️ 🌠 🪐” 
MJ: “Oh, you're no fun. Here.”

fantasy illustration of a songbird sitting on an analog clock, generated by MidJourney fantasy illustration of a pretty Black woman with flowers in her hair, generated by MidJourney Illustration of an astronaut standing in front of a large yellow spaceship on an alien planet, generated by MidJourney

Prompt: 🚀 🪐 🌠 🌟 ⭐ Prompt: 🔮 ✨ 💚 🌄 🏰 Prompt: 🚡 🚀 ☄️ 🌠 🪐 –no people.
NOTE: MJ will blatantly disregard “no” prompts at will. 


NightCafè Is A Frustrating A.I.

As I mentioned above, I'm not very good with NightCafé. It's frustratingly difficult to get a decent image, and has too many variables I don't understand. Using NC is like playing a really difficult game where you don't know all the rules and only win maybe one in forty rounds. Mostly, I get useless results. Still, I keep trying because they give me free credits, so I win a small payoff now and then.

Sunflower illustration, abstract watercolor and acid ink, generated by NightCafe
Prompt: Fusion of pointillism and alcohol ink paint, Vibrant, Incandescent, opalescent, stylized sunflowers, metallic ink, ethereal    


February 2023 AI Art Experiments and Comparisons

I asked both MJ and NC to create a realistic live-animal version of a Chinese foo dog**. They're primarily called Chinese guardian lions, and they're usually big stone sculptures that guard palaces and tombs. This turned out to be an intermediate-difficulty-level prompt to craft and refine. As you might imagine, prompts that work for one service must be tweaked to handle the idiosyncrasies of the other.

To start, “foo lion” got me images of frisky lions. Unqualified “foo dog” got animation-style images of a foo-dog statue standing in the snow. Adding the word “living” up front and adding some photography influences put me on the right track. I ran out of patience with NC, so I did more refinements in MJ. Prompt #1 still looks too much like an animated statue. 

Illustration of a living foo dog, as generated by NightCafé
fantasy illustration of a foo dog sitting in the snow, generated by MidJourney Illustration of a foo dog as a live animal playing with a ball in the snow, generated by MidJourney
NightCafé prompt: adorable living foo dog playing in the snow, hyperrealistic animal, natural lighting, unreal engine 5, detailed, DSLR  MidJourney prompt #1: adorable living foo dog playing in the snow, hyperrealistic animal, action shot, natural lighting, unreal engine 5, detailed, 35mm MidJourney prompt #4:  photoreal illustration of a realistic live-animal version of an adult foo dog playing with a small ball in the snow, detailed, joyful



**Why a foo dog, you ask? In my space opera novella, Pet Trade, the hero, Axur, has a genetically-engineered creature that the ethics-challenged pet trade designed to look like a miniature foo dog. Shiza looks like a wealthy child's pet, and he is, but as the veterinarian heroine, Bethnee, explains, he's as much a guardian to the child as he is a sweet companion.






    1. It is fun — it’s like a white-elephant gift exchange when you first unwrap the gifts.

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