A picture may be worth a thousand words. But you do not need a thousand words to create a picture. Now, you only need a few. Midjourney, an AI art generator from text, has arrived and is open for business. As of this writing, it has nearly a million members.
This artificial intelligence art generator may change the way you create.
What is Midjourney?
Midjourney is a research lab that explores new mediums of thought. Their goal is to expand the imaginative powers of the human species.
What we are talking about here is Midjourney’s interactive bot. It uses machine learning to create pictures based on text. A bot is an autonomous program on the internet or another network that can interact with systems or users. The program appears to take concepts and make them a reality. Many similar technologies are developing, including DALL-E 2.
Describe what you want to see. The MJ bot goes out and finds images that are like what you have described and combines them uniquely and artistically. What you get is more than a simple composite. Midjourney is an AI image creator. You get an entirely new creation!
How to Get Midjourney
The Midjourney multiverse opened up beta testing in July of 2022. Before this, you had to have an invite to get onto the platform. With this expanding access, everyone can try out this new world of AI art generation.
The MJ bot runs through the Discord server. Open Discord in your browser to use the program. Or you can download the app on your smartphone. Follow the steps to create an account.
In a browser, go to Midjourney and click “Join the Beta.” Then, accept the invite. While you are here, look at the Getting Started link, where you will find general instructions on using the bot.
When you return to the Discord app, you should now have an MJ icon in the left-hand column. It is white with a boat icon.
That’s it! You are in! Time to have some fun.
How to Use Midjourney
Let’s now look at how to make AI-generated art. Click the MJ app icon in Discord. This takes you to the MJ workspace. In the left-hand column, you will see a list of chat rooms. Start in one of the Newbie rooms.
In the Message area at the bottom of the page, type “/imagine.”
Type what you want to see. Your prompt can be as fanciful as you want. You can include subjects, artistic styles, mood descriptors, and anything else. Enter a whole paragraph, one word, or your favorite song lyrics. The combinations are endless. Let your imagination fly free!
The bot recognizes some descriptions more than others. One example is dinosaurs. At the time of writing, the app is not great at rendering dinosaurs. They look mostly like aliens. But it is great at steampunk! The beauty of machine learning is the program learns. When you read this article, it may be great at making dinosaurs.
There is a knack for writing prompts, and that is half the fun of Midjourney. Currently, the bot seems better at creating artistic images than photographic ones. And that may be the point. Sometimes the results look like a photograph, but mostly they look like a painting or drawing.
It really depends on the descriptive words you use. If you want a photo, try creating a vintage one like a wet plate or tin type. The program has a style of its own. You probably will not be able to make any deep fakes—at least not yet.
The bot recognizes many famous people. Recently, the daily prompt included John Oliver. For 24 hours, everyone on the server was making pictures of the comedian.
After a minute or so, your images should pop up at the bottom of the thread. Keep your eyes open! The pictures fly by. Other people are creating at the same time. Take a moment and appreciate their AI-generated art.
You will get four options in a grid based on your prompt. Select your favorite by choosing the upscale (U) button underneath that corresponds to the image. Upscaling pulls the image out of the grid and makes it larger. The V buttons make variations of an image.
Creators often perfect their images by running the program many times. Each time they refine the prompt description and try different variations.
Some prompts add functionality and do something specific. By default, all the images are in a square format. Typing “–ar 16:9” for instance, changes the aspect ratio to a wide landscape, perfect for video screens.
If you want to see all of the art you made, go to the Midjourney page and log in. Your creations will be on the home page. And you can download them from there.
Midjourney and Copyright
By default, images generated on MJ are public. Everyone can see what you are creating. You can even interact with someone else’s creations by upscaling one you like or asking for variations. On the flip side, you get to see and learn from other creators’ prompts. To use the app, you have to be cool about the public nature of the platform. But if you just cannot live with the open space, you can pay a fee to make your account private.
Copyright for AI-generated art is a bit ill-defined at the moment. You created the prompt. But the bot actually compiled the image. Art created with a free, trial account comes with a Commons Noncommercial 4.0 Attribution International License. Basically, you can use the images if you do not make money off of them, and you credit Midjourney.
If you pay for an account, you can use your art as you want. This includes selling them. But the company can use your image. Since you created the images on a public forum, you probably cannot expect to use them exclusively. Copyright law is complicated at the best of times. Throw artificial intelligence into the mix and we are in for some interesting copyright cases. It remains to be seen how AI copyright issues pan out.
How Much Does Midjourney Cost?
You can make your first 25 images on Midjourney for free. But you are not going to want to stop at 25! The Basic Membership monthly subscription lets you create up to 200 images. The higher-level Standard Membership subscription gives you unlimited creations if you work in “relaxed” mode. You can get results faster. But you are limited to 15 hours. There is also a corporate membership available.
At any time, you can manage your subscription by typing “/info” into the message bar.
Can Midjourney Post-Process Photos?
I often get asked by photographers if Midjourney is able to post-process photos taken with a camera. The short answer is no. This is not an image editor. You can get images based on your photo and prompts. But you are not going to get a post-processed version of your photo.
To base your image on an existing photo, start the prompt with the web address of your photo. I usually save images into Dropbox or Google Drive and copy the associated link. Follow the photo link with text describing how you want the final product to look.
Midjourney AI is a powerful tool for artistic image creation. You do not need to be able to draw or have an artistic background. Simply, describe what you want to see and let the bot do the rest. But you cannot always anticipate what Midjourney will give you. It is like rain on a car windshield. The results are somewhat predictable with a large dose of randomness. You do not always get exactly what you had in mind. But you often get a really cool image that you were not expecting!
If you are looking for photorealism, you probably will not find it here. But you can create concept images, art in various styles, and bring your imagination to life.
You can control the Midjourney bot to an extent depending on how well you can verbally describe what you want to see. For many, this is tricky enough. But you cannot always predict what the bot will render. There is an element of chance to what you get. In this way, it feels more like a game. Spin the wheel and see what you get.