How To Use AI In Your
By Neil Blevins
Created On: June 2nd 2022
AI (Artificial Intelligence) artwork has been a huge subject of
experimentation and debate these last few months. Whether this is a fad
or the future, who knows. But if we are going to use AI, my goal
is have the AI assist me rather than replace me, I want to find that
balance between my own artistic ideas / style and that of the
algorithm. And while AI continues to evolve, and so workflows will as
well, I wanted to share with you my current attempts at finding that
As a visual
artist, I've been looking at AI tools, and trying to decide how I could
use their strengths without reducing my contribution to a few well
chosen keywords. So this tutorial will discuss the methods I've been
AI artwork into some of my paintings.
Note: This isn't a tutorial showing you how to use any specific piece
of software, this is speaking about the process at a higher level, and
can be applied to pretty much any software you'd like.
You have two choices with this lesson, watch me discuss the issue in
the video below, or read the full text.
Creating Photobash Elements
Many modern day concept artists rarely paint anything from scratch, at
least for professional work. In fact, I personally feel using the term
"painting" isn't really accurate, a lot of us do what I like referring
to as a "Digital Collage", we take elements of 3d and photographic
elements, and then merge them using digital painting in a package such
So one obvious way to try and integrate AI artwork into your workflow
is to use the AI to produce your own photobash elements, and use that
in your own compositions. So instead of taking a photograph of a tree,
extracting it from the background of your photo, and placing it in the
background of your image, have the AI paint a tree, and then use the
resulting image in the same way. In fact, it may be even
better to use than a photo, because rather than going through the
process of removing the tree from the rest of the photo, you can have
the AI paint the tree on a blank background, making it simple to
produce an alpha channel.
Here's an example of this technique. First, I started with this super
quick painting that took me about 2 minutes to paint in photoshop.
It isn't meant to
look good, its just meant to give the AI algorithm some basics to start
from. Then I used the AI program Midjourney, provided this image as a
seed image, and provided it a text phrase such as "Photoreal Alien
Flower With Tentacles". So what the AI algorithm does is looks at the
painting I provide it, looks at the text prompt I provided, and tries
to produce work that satisfies these two criteria.
Here's just some of the images it created...
Since the image I provided it was so loose, the only parts of the image
that seemed to really influence the algorithm was the color palette
(Green and Purple). In this case I think the text prompt had a lot more
weight to the look of the final image.
So now I took a bunch of these images and cut out a bunch of separate
elements. I then painted on top of them to add details and give them
Then placed them together in a whole new configuration to create this
crazy evil looking alien plant.
So in this case, I used the AI to generate photobash elements, but the
composition and final design is very much my own thing.
Creating Compositions In The
Style Of My Own Work
Now here's a similar process, but a few key differences. I decided to
test out making some mechs. So first I started with an old painting I
made 5 years ago of a mech. This image was created using a combination
of 3d, photos and digital painting.
I provided this painting to the Midjourney's AI algorithm along with
the simple text prompt "Battle Droid". I then increased the weight of
the image. This means the AI will make something a lot closer to my
original painting, and use the text description less.
Here's a bunch of
Notice that the resulting images the AI produced are a lot closer to my
original painting than the flower example. In fact, it's kind of fun
looking at areas in these paintings that were inspired by my original
Beyond just the greenish color and general lack of
background, a lot of details were brought through to the AI's painting.
So now, rather than creating my own composition like I did with the
flower, I took one of the resulting AI paintings whose general shape I
- The discs on my original painting end up reappearing on the chest
- The little cut out bits from the metal
- The black elongated gap for the eyes
- My original painting has a large central head, and the two large
appendages sticking out from the sides. Even though the AI gave its
painting arms, it also gave it two appendages attached to the side of
and I added a bunch of details (some of which are photobashed from
actual photos), better lighting, & gave him feet and a background
in photoshop. Here's the result.
And here's another 2 Battle Droids made using a similar technique.
Different Ways To Collaborate
So in my first test (flower), the AI algorithm started with my very
loose painting, then was tasked with creating elements. And then I
photobashed those elements together. So the AI handled the details, and
I handled more of the design and composition.
In my second test (battle droid), I gave the AI less control over its
paintings, it had to adhere much closer to my original painting of a
robot. But then the AI provided more of the shape and composition, and
I finished it off with some extra design and details.
I said earlier, this AI stuff is only in its infancy, and I'm sure
there will be many other ways to have the AI to assist the artist. But
these are the two methods I've been using with the tech as it currently
AI is certainly a polarizing subject. Some people say that AI will
never replace the artist. Some say is absolutely will, and it'll happen
soon. I am not going to try and predict the future, but I'm working to
find ways for the AI to assist me. There are elements of making art
that I find tedious, so my focus of these experiments is can I truly
collaborate with these tools and still provide substantial artistic
input. Whether later versions of AI replace me, I have no control over,
and worrying about something you can't control never leads anywhere
good, so I'm going to focus on what I can control.
So hopefully you'll get a chance to experiment, and give these
workflows a try with your favorite AI and paint program. Let's help
shape the AIs to work with us!