What Is AI Art? How to Make Stunning Images Using AI [2024]

what is AI art

As I creative, I see the dangers of relying too much on AI to replace the work of the human creative.

While AI art generators have come a long way, they are absolutely NOT a replacement for the human. Real, artist-developed art continues to have a huge place in our world, and we would be so much the poorer if we let AI somehow just “take over” for us.

However, for some purposes, AI art is amazing! It can help streamline marketing and promotional image workflows, and it can do good things for indie authors who need to create materials for their books!

But, can we consider computer-generated art as real art? And how much input is needed from human artists to make algorithmic art qualify as original art pieces?

We’ll discuss those questions and more while giving you some insights on how to make stunning generative art using AI systems!

What Is AI Art?

The advances in computer science gave birth to the term “AI art.” It’s the art generated with the assistance of artificial intelligence, whether autonomously through a machine-learning model or the guidance of a human artist.

AI artists tweak the algorithms and command sets that AI uses to analyze data and generate art.

The level of autonomy varies depending on how much the human artist is involved. For instance,

AI artists could be specific and give step-by-step instructions to get more personalized art or give machine learning technologies more freedom to produce over-the-top results.

JasperArt city
Created by Jasper Art on December 11, 2023 (see prompt below)

A generative photography art piece featuring an image created with the help of AI, depicting a futuristic cityscape illuminated by neon lights. The photograph should emphasize sharp geometric shapes blended with organic curves, creating an ethereal atmosphere that evokes a sense of awe and wonder.

Why Is AI Art So Popular?

Where does such AI-created art fall in the bigger scheme of decades of art history? And why such art generated by AI is becoming so popular? Here are some reasons:

Free Up Time

Visual art creation is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort to ensure the artist’s message is delivered. You can quickly create a large volume of algorithmic art, focus your attention on editing such preliminary projects, and add your personal touch to make the digital creations feel like your own.

Human intelligence would be put to better use as the bulk of the tedious work is done by AI. All you must do is bring your creative flare to the table and ensure your artistic message is sound and clear.

AI also allows you to make different versions of the same art piece to test it with your audience and see which has the most impact.

Affordable and Versatile

Generative art is cheaper to reproduce once you have an AI system trained on existing images from different nooks and crannies of the internet.

Versatility is another significant advantage of artificial intelligence as the artwork created by AI can range from abstract art, an oil painting, nude portrait, and much more.

If you’re hiring a human artist to take over such projects, you’ll have to drop in more money. And you may also need to look for different people with different skill sets, as it’s uncommon for visual artists to be well-versed in many different art styles.

See below for some examples of the same prompt given to Jasper Art in the style of different famous painters!

family wandering Salvadore Dali
family wandering Monet
family wandering Picasso
family wandering Van Gogh

Accessibile

You don’t need specific training or skills to create art using AI.

Think of AI as a creative tool rather than a replacement for human artists. For instance, software like Adobe Photoshop still relies on a machine learning algorithm to streamline our workflow. Yet, no one is questioning whether Photoshop is taking over human creativity.

Thinking about AI this way can help to nourish your creativity!

It’s Easy!

We’re on the precipice of evolving technology, and recent advances made it much easier to interact with an AI system. ChatGPT uses natural language processing models to make sense of the context of your text.

AI models like OpenAI Codex transform data science by making creative coding a breeze. Such tools can convert natural language into usable code through complex neural networks.

It opens up more opportunities for automation and gives you more freedom to choose the creative practice that suits the specific visual form of your art pieces.

This means you don’t need a degree in coding to interact with artificial intelligence, allowing more people to deliver executable commands for AI to follow through without writing a single line of code.

JasperArt
Created by Jasper Art on December 11, 2023

History of AI Art

The history of AI art goes back to the invention of the computer itself and the infancy days of computer graphics. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and appreciate how far artificial intelligence has evolved and how such technologies are transforming art as we know it!

Early AI Artworks

In the 1960s, computer graphics were still a proof of concept, and computer scientists were still exploring what was possible with such a new form of visual representation.

The German mathematician; Frieder Nake worked with different computer programs to generate simple patterns and shapes.

His collection was called “Matrix Multiplications,” where he fed the machine random values in a square matrix and got art pieces with different patterns and color pallets according to the assigned values.

This was ground-breaking at the time, and it paved the road for creating digital art using the ones and zeros computers understand.

But the real breakthrough came in the 1970s with the first perception of computer-aided design (CAD) software that allowed artists to work with 3D models and create more complex artistic frameworks.

Fast forward to the 1990s, when artificial intelligence art slipped into other media formats, artists could generate music, sound effects, and animated 3D models, which enabled us to produce full-length computer-animated productions.

Neural networks were also used to pre-programmed robots to create sculptures and paintings. Artists and computer scientists laid down the coding infrastructure that allows for precise robot arm movements and the creation of fantastic art pieces.

Influence of AI on the Arts

We’ve come to the point where the average person is well aware of the existence of AI-created art. You can find art pieces generated by artificial intelligence being displayed in a physical space or exhibition.

Such pieces are influential as they fuel the debate on whether this art form is as expressive and detailed as its human counterpart.

Such debate has incentivized researchers to look into the quality of new images created autonomously by AI and how they compare to conventional art pieces with a human artist behind the brush.

A study shows that the quality is comparable between human and AI-generated poetry. However, researchers could appreciate a noticeable pump in quality once AI and human poets collaborate on the same project.

AI and Creativity

The creative flow can be messy, with many improvisational and impulsive artistic decisions. But computer art is anything but spontaneous. AI operates based on systematic and logical models, so let’s explore how such stark differences can influence creativity:

Midjourney future city
Generated by Midjourney April 24, 2023

How Is (AI) Used to Create Artwork?

AI artworks have reached new heights once Ian Goodfellow and his team brought Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) to life.

A Generative Adversarial Network is a machine learning framework that uses two neural networks simultaneously, where one network’s gain is the other’s loss.

GAN frameworks allowed us to figure out how “computer vision” works, giving us valuable insights into how machines learn visual concepts.

This came in handy when training artificial intelligence models on existing images for the algorithms to lay out a pattern for the entire art creation process. Then, creative coding pushes our algorithmic art towards one aesthetic or artistic style.

For an AI-created image to see daylight, machine learning models must be trained on massive data sets to establish patterns and analyze the data at the display.

Computer-Generated vs. AI Art

AI artwork is based on patterns and schemes that a machine learning model establishes upon reviewing your input image library.

The final product is a mesh between countless existing images, with the human artists at the helm of such a process to tweak the code and command set until they land on aesthetically pleasing results.

On the other hand, Computer-Generated Artwork, or CGA, is created using rendering tools that replicate real-life textures, camera work, and environmental lighting effects.

CG workflows require more deliberate inputs on the artist’s end down to the finest details. Simulation models can help speed up the process and produce more realistic-looking effects like rain and fog.

Types of AI Artwork

Digital art has many styles and aesthetics using different models; these are:

Machine Learning

Machine learning refers to the process in which a computer model “learns” how to perform a task based on previous experiences.

The training process can take different forms, whether through reinforcement learning or exposure to large data sets.

The first training model provides reward and punishment for each time the system runs a set of commands. The machine learning algorithm will be fine-tuned to follow through the pathway where it gets rewarded.

Training your machine learning frameworks on large data sets enables AI algorithms to analyze such data and establish patterns. With each subsequent run, the system becomes more accurate at recognizing visual cues.

Generative Algorithms

Generative algorithms can make predictions based on the data they’ve been trained on. This allows for the creation of new art pieces with aesthetics and patterns that align with the analyzed source materials.

If the model is trained on data sets with heavily processed images, it will create deliberately over-processed images.

As an AI artist, you should be on the lookout for such behaviors, so you can change your models’ command sets and create art that aligns with your artistic vision.

Canva AI image
Created by Canva Magic Media on December 11, 2023

Automated Image Recognition

Automated image recognition refers to the software’s ability to identify specific objects, text, or people in a given image.

Thanks to the help of neural network processors, AI can break down images into different layers and establish a recognition pattern without human interference.

It’s worth noting that such image processing models are trained through machine learning and deep learning models.

Once the system has achieved a satisfactory number of runs, it’s when to feed it with never-before-seen images and test the accuracy of its predictive pattern.

Deep Learning

Deep learning is a more sophisticated form of machine learning with multiple layers to extract more detailed patterns from the same raw data sets. Deep learning models achieve impressive levels of accuracy that, for the most part, exceed human capabilities.

For such systems to function reliably, they’re trained with different sets of labeled data.

Such architecture is the basis for neural style transfer that blends two images; one is the input image, and the other is used as a reference for the artistic style.

The provided image will come in the same aesthetics as the stylized image, allowing you to display your art in a new light without doing all the work from scratch.

Pros and Cons of AI Art

Here are some of the advantages and drawbacks that come with AI-generated artwork:

Pros of AI Art
  • AI tools are user-friendly, so more artists with different skill sets and talent levels can express artistic expression.
  • Artificial intelligence can perform repetitive tasks like sketching, coloring, and shading, enabling artists to establish more efficient workflows.
  • Neural networks and AI models are invaluable during brainstorming and early concept ideation. Such tools can generate original content based on your text input, giving you reliable visual representation upon which you can base your projects.
Cons of AI Art
  • Marketing art created by AI proves to be challenging at times, posing restrictions to monetizing your art content.
  • For the most part, content created by AI still requires editing by a human.
  • Search engines might de-rank content created by AI, affecting the reach of your website and limiting your potential audience.
  • Without the human touch, AI artwork lacks the purpose and hidden messages that human artists include in their pieces.

Popular AI Art Programs

Next, we’ll look at some AI art software programs and see what each of them generates for the following prompts:

1. “oil painting of an old abandoned gazebo by a river, in the autumn, at sunset”

2. “old Roman ruins, surrounded by an old city, high fantasy, epic, digital art”

3. “a beautiful Norse princess, with tiara, dark hair, full face portrait, photorealistic”

4. “iron man, unreal engine, photorealistic, 3d”

Take a look at the art that has been generated, and decide for yourself which program you like best!

Midjourney AI

Midjourney

Let’s kick off our list of AI image generators with Midjourney AI. The software excels when it comes to creating concept art.

You can include a link to an existing image for the software to base its creation exclusively upon such an example if you want to remove the randomness element from the equation.

Midjourney AI allows you to set your preferred aspect ratio to ensure the images you get fit perfectly for their intended use case. The AI delivers unique art pieces without adding annoying watermarks that demolish the quality of the piece.

Bear in mind that you can only try the AI generator for 4 hours before having to revert to one of the paid plans. Currently (April 2023), Midjourney will tell you that due to demand, they are not able to let you try it out for free at that time (unfortunately!).

The basic plan starts at $10 per month, allowing you to run three concurrent projects and have ten waiting in queue to take their place once they’re delivered.

Midjourney AI art images are so detailed and beautiful, they look like real paintings. I thought they were gorgeous.

midjourney gazebo
Midjourney Roman Ruins
Midjourney Princess
Midjourney Iron Man

Jasper Art

Jasper Art homepage

If you’re looking for an AI generator that doesn’t take all day to deliver an AI-created image, Jasper Art is the tool for you. Jasper’s image generation time is sitting at under 5 seconds.

The software is backed up by an active community that provides tutorials on making the most of its creative adversarial network.

You could also export an AI-generated image by Jasper Art in 2k resolution, giving you crisp details. This enables AI artists to print such images on larger canvases without compromise.

To ensure the experience of using Jasper is as frictionless as possible, the company offers a Chrome extension you can reach out to without leaving your current web tab.

This ensures your creative flow is never interrupted, and you follow through with any spontaneous idea the moment it hits you.

Jasper Art venice gondola
JasperArt Roman ruins
JasperArt Iron Man

You can read my full review here: Jasper Art Review: A Powerful AI Image Generator!


Canva AI Art Generator

Canva Magic Media

If you’re a Canva user, you should try the newly introduced AI Art Generator within the app you love. This makes integrating AI images into your current projects easier, as you won’t have to fiddle between different apps. 

The text-to-image tool lets you create AI art in different styles. So whether you’re a content creator, an entrepreneur looking for branding materials, or an aspiring artist looking for inspiration, Canva has the Generative Adversarial Network for your needs.

Canva takes safety into consideration to ensure it delivers ethical technology. The company has invested in algorithms that automatically flag inappropriate text input.

There are many searches that Canva just won’t produce an image for (when I inputted “iron man,” it wouldn’t produce a picture – but “Ironman” was fine!).

The community also gets to report any offensive content generated by the AI while explaining its reasoning.

The deep learning models can pick upon similar patterns in the future and ensure the generated images are safe and don’t violate copyrights.

I think that these images are lovely, but are not as realistic as the ones generated by Jasper or Midjourney or Nightcafe.

Canva AI art gazebo
Canva ai art roman ruins
Canva art Norse princess
Canva ai art Ironman

You can check out my full review here: Canva AI Image Generator Review: Create Free AI Images


NightCafe

NightCafe AI art

NightCafe is a worthy contender in the AI image generator space thanks to its creative adversarial network. You can create art based on simple text inputs.

The model achieves stunning results with different word combinations, so you’re encouraged to experiment with your word choice until you land on the result that better represents your artistic vision.

If you’re looking to collaborate with your fellow artists on a project, NightCafe allows you to create and join chat rooms where you can brainstorm different project ideas.

The social aspect of the AI generator doesn’t stop there, as NightCafe runs a daily art contest where users can display their creations and vote on which art piece deserves the title for the day.

NightCafe gazebo art
Nightcafe roman ruins art
NightCafe Norse princess art
NightCafe Iron Man art

DALL·E 2

DALL·E-2

The DALL.E 2 AI generator enables you to create unlimited images without paying a dime. It also excels in creating animal illustrations, whether in 2D or 3D perspectives. 

What DALL.E2 claims that sets it apart from other AI art generators is its ability to create realistic-looking images. However, as you can see in the images below, I thought that they were the least realistic of all the AI art programs that I tried here!

It’s worth noting that one interesting thing that DALL.E2 can do is put a twist on your existing digital art. The outpainting composites an original art piece onto a more expansive canvas that matches the original’s aesthetics.

The AI generator offers an inpainting feature where details are added to your images without feeling forced or out of place. It enriches the artist’s vision and creates new images that tell different stories.

Here are the four images that I created using the above prompts in DALL.E 2.

Dall E 2 gazebo
DALL E 2 Roman Ruins
DALL E 2 princess
DALL E 2 IronMan

Artists Using AI-Generated Art

Mario Klingemann

One of the pioneers in the AI-generated art space has to be Mario Klingemann. He balances his analytical mindset as a programmer, his creative flare as an artist, and his willingness to experiment with new forms of artistic expression.

Some of his most popular projects are “Memories of Passerby I” and “Neural Glitch.”

Memo Akten

Memo Ayten likes to describe himself as a computational artist. He explores themes related to technology, spirituality, and AI, fitting for an artist who uses artificial intelligence for his creations! 

You must experience the details that go into his piece with the name “Deep Life” and get lost in the patterns and colors of “Pixelflipper.”

Andreas Refsgaard

With years of coding experience, Andreas Refsgaard explores how algorithms, machine learning models, and neural network frameworks can influence creative endeavors. Andreas brings a humorous flare to all his projects, making his artistic style unique.

He creates interactive experiences like “Sounds from the Mouth” that let the audience be part of the piece and ensures everyone gets to experience art based on their own terms and mindsets.

Sougwen Chung

Sougwen Chung believes in embodied AI and explores how humans and machines come together through art. She leans back onto her Chinese culture to create unique pieces celebrating diversity and expression. 

Omnia Per Omnia” has to be one of her most unique projects, as she uses a swarm of robots to replicate the busy nature of her home city.

midjourney ai image
Created by Midjourney on December 11, 2023

Final Thoughts

AI is creating ripples in all aspects of life, including art.

By using AI image generators, you’re signing up for a cost-effective, efficient software that allows you to realize your artistic vision without necessarily having the talent and skills to execute such projects by yourself.

Remember that AI art is still debatable, and copyright infringement concerns make it challenging to market your AI-generated content.

This doesn’t mean you can’t rely on AI for ideation, draft creation, and creating preliminary frameworks. Just do your homework (as rules change all the time!), and then get creating!

what is AI art

Common Questions (FAQs)

Why Is AI art controversial?

Plagiarism concerns loom over AI-generated images as private databases and the open web are scrapped for data to create AI art. This raises concerns over the originality of the digital artwork created and whether the original creators should be compensated for having AI models trained on their work.

How is AI used in art?

AI tools can inspire and help artists visualize their ideas, and create more efficient workflows. Neural style transfer allows you to present the same art piece in different styles and aesthetics, giving you more flexibility on how you choose to exhibit your art.

Is AI art legal?

This is still a gray zone with a precedent yet to be set. The content created by AI can’t be copyright attributed to a person. However, content used to train such models is usually copyright protected. For instance, Getty Images has filed a lawsuit against an image generator using content published under Getty Images’ domain.

Interested in using AI for image and video content? Check out these other ideas!

9+ Best AI Video Editor Software Tools [Reviewed]

7+ Best AI Photo Editors [Free and Paid Software Tools]

The 7+ Best AI Video Generators [Text to Video]

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