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Is design becoming a writer’s medium? Meet the AI creators changing creativity forever

By Leroyson Figueira | Creative director

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September 27, 2022 | 7 min read

We think of design as a skill for people who are talented at using paintbrushes. But as the age of artificial intelligence (AI) design dawns, it might be good prompt writers who make the best work. 160over90’s Leroyson Figueira tracked down some of the best AI creators in the business to ask how their unbelievable images come to be.

An AI generated image of a sandstone house

Just one example of AI-generated art pushing the boundaries of creativity and design / The work of Mohamad abdAllah

By now, you’ve probably seen the incredible AI designs being generated with online AI art generator software such as Midjourney and Dall-e.

For the first time ever in the history of art and design, beautiful imagery is being created exclusively using words. Not paints. Not Photoshop. Anyone who can write can now design.

But the most interesting part of AI design is not how jaw-droppingly stunning the output is, but that it has unwittingly created a new design craft. I’m calling it ‘creative prompt writing.’

Writing as a design craft. A brave new world indeed.

How AI design is created with words

There are no traditional design tools in Midjourney or Dall-e. The online software only has a text input tool: you write what you want it to make.

Let’s focus on Midjourney. In Midjourney, all you need to do is write: “/imagine prompt: [anything you want it to create].”

The better you are at writing the prompts, the better your output will be. The more intricate and detailed your written prompt, the more intricate and unique the artwork will be.

Writing the design

In a traditional marketing and advertising agency world, we often split the creative process into words and pictures. Copywriting and design, with job titles to match: copywriters and art directors. And only creatives are allowed to create. But in the new world of AI design, traditional designers need to learn how to write prompts to get the designs they want. And non-creatives can also create.

The best prompt writers will get the best designs.

AI design is a brave new frontier. Even in the last month, it has seen huge innovation and acceleration with new versions being released.

Think like a designer, write like an art historian

In this article, some of the leading AI creators share with us their personal prompts, giving a unique insight into the words and sentences they use to create their art. They’ve shared with us their written prompts and the images that these prompts created.

No design tools were used to create these designs. Just words.

Notice how intricate the wording can be. The level of detail sometimes approaches an art historian’s level of understanding. The words create nuance.

Majestic Monkey

Mohamad abdAllah’s prompt: “/Imagine prompt: majestic monkey knight, portrait, finely detailed armor, intricate filigree metal & brass armour, cinematic lighting, 4k, 8k, octane render --ar 9:16 –test”

An AI-generated image of a regal monkey

Red Citadel

This one’s Mohamad abdAllah again – the prompt: “/Imagine prompt: Red Citadel rising above a lush Crystal Forest, cinematic light, volumetric light, Beautiful architecture, Vibrant colors, Atmosphere, Spectacular details, Dramatic lighting, Epic composition, Wide angle, Low angle, Close up, Miyazaki, Ghibli studio --ar 16:9”

An AI-generated red citadel against a blue sky

Frozen Road

Matteo Ferrari’s prompt – and no, this isn’t a photograph: “/Imagine prompt: frozen road leading to a gigantic sun and sunset, snow, storm, stormy environment --testp”

An AI-generated image of a snowy road

Desert Greenhouse

Matteo Ferrari again: “/Imagine prompt: interior of a massive dome greenhouse in the desert, interior shot with lush vegetation inside, night image, uplight, glass metal and vegetation, red rocks, desert rocks, photoreal, photorealistic, photography, epic design, massive architecture, massive scale, wide shot, Canon Eos 7D, hd, --test --upbeta”

An AI-generated image of a desert greenhouse

Parametric Dress

Mohamad abdAllah again: “/Imagine prompt: hyperrealistic beautiful female model, full body portrait, with 3d printed white parametric dress, organic design, fluid, low angle shot --ar 9:16 --test --creative --upbeta“

An AI-generated design of a woman in a white dress

Space Penthouse

Matteo Ferrari: “/Imagine prompt: interior of a futuristic spaceship, big window looking outside to massive planets and stars and spaceships, futurism, future, futuristic, sci fi, science fiction, epic lighting, crazy composition, super wide lens, photorealism, vray, unreal engine, robots and androids, --ar 2:1 --version 3 --upbeta“

An AI-generated design for a "space penthouse"

Underwater City

Matteo Ferrari: “/Imagine prompt: futuristic underwater city in the deep ocean with massive people walking and interacting with shops bars and restaurants, exterior wide shot, activities lights and people, neons, lights, glows, epic shot, epic composition, concept art, cgi, photo real, hyper-realistic render, architectural visualization, vray next, unreal engine“

An AI-generated design for an underwater city

There will be haters

In any revolution, especially those that affect human culture, there will always be haters. Art, design and creativity are often seen as distinctively human. Being able to create, we thought, made us different to (or better than) animals and computers.

Were these artworks made by humans or computers? I say that it was the humans, with human vision and a human need to express and create. The software was merely the brush.

The future?

Perhaps written prompts will come to hold as much value as the preparatory sketches of Da Vinci or the pencil drafts of Rembrandt. Maybe they’ll hang alongside artworks in exhibitions. Maybe they’ll become trademarked, or auctioned off as collectable NFTs. All I know is that it has changed the world of creativity and design forever.

‘Wanted: creative prompt writers.’ Just /imagine.

If this article inspires you to try AI design, check out my colleague Louis Moss's tutorial for Midjourney. I’d love to see your first attempts. Please share them with me on Twitter (#160over90) or LinkedIn (#1600ver90).

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