AI art generators are one of the most exciting technologies at the moment. We’re in a period of intense and rapid development, and AI generated art is becoming increasingly impressive.
Since the beginning of this year we’ve been waiting for the Dall-E 2 beta list and the mid MidJourney beta list. During this time, many of us had been making AI generated art using Disco Diffusion, Dall-E Mini (now Craiyon), NightCafe, and others.
Shortly after, some of us had access to Dall-E 2 and MidJourney, and later they were open to the public and everyone had access. Soon after, Stable Diffusion appeared on the scene and was in beta, and just recently they released it to the public.
Each of these AI image generation software stirred up a lot of excitement in the community. And each one had it’s own strengths. But it’s thanks to all of them that we’re seeing the impressive generated art that we are today.
It’s safe to say that the state of AI generated art is very strong right now. And it’s only going to get better from here.
In this article we’ll check out the five best AI art generators that you can use right now to create your own art.
We are not affiliated with any of them in any way. If you have any feedback or questions, then feel free to leave a comment. It would be very much appreciated.
Table of Contents
- Stable Diffusion (Free Version or Paid + Free Trial)
- MidJourney (Paid + Free Trial)
- Dall-E 2 (Paid)
- Disco Diffusion (Free)
- Frequently Asked Questions
Stable Diffusion (Free Version or Paid + Free Trial)
Stable Diffusion is the most recent AI art generator, and overall the best, in my opinion.
First and foremost, the quality of the generated images is astounding, especially considering that Stable Diffusion is also available for free. You can run it on your local machine or in a Google Colab, and requires a minimum amount of 5.9GB VRAM (GPU RAM). However over 10GB VRAM is recommended. In addition to this it is very fast compared to previous solutions. To give you an idea, a few months ago, with Disco Diffusion I’d wait ~20 minutes to generate a free
512 x 512 px image on Google Colab. With Stable Diffusion it’s under 1 minute, and the images are usually better (this also depends on your Disco Diffusion settings).
The images are incredibly realistic and detailed, and the software is able to generate a wide variety of images, from portraits to landscapes to abstract art.
The team seems committed to being very open to their users. They have open-sourced the Stable Diffusion model, so it’s available to be freely modified or distributed, and anyone can use it to make any kind of software.
They also have a version that is hosted on their servers, available at DreamStudio.ai. This version is paid, and more convenient than other implementations available right now. We I assume that this paid version will see some improvements in the near future, that the free and open-source versions won’t have.
However, since anyone is free to play with the free version of Stable Diffusion, and create their own software, you’ll find an insane amount of cool implementations out there. It’s only been a week since Stable Diffusion has been open sourced and it feels like awesome implementations are popping every few hours – things like Discord Bots, MS Paint Plugins (allegedly), Adobe Photoshop plugins, and many more.
You can try out Stable Diffusion for free right now. We have two very beginner friendly tutorials:
- Stable Diffusion WebUI – This is what I consider the best and most convenient way to run Stable Diffusion right now. It features an intuitive user interface, it runs on Google Colab (so you don’t need to worry about your hardware), and it comes with many useful features like image upscaling, face restoration for distorted portraits, image-to-image generation so you can better guide it to your preferred result, and more.
- Getting Started with Stable Diffusion – This is the basic tutorial of using Stable Diffusion in Google Colab for free.
The images are generated by Stable Diffusion are often very high quality, and although it may underperform when getting super specific, they are generally more aesthetically pleasing.
For example, it is more inclined to generate faces, especially of famous people. This may have to do with the fact that, as opposed to Dall-E 2, it doesn’t have as many restrictions. Dall-E 2’s content policy prevents you from generating anything that can be potentially controversial.
In addition, Stable Diffusion does an excellent job generating anime related images.
Another great feature of Stable Diffusion is the ability to easily adjust image ratio. This is a great feature for those who want to generate images that are a specific size or aspect ratio.
Finally, an important thing to keep in mind is that since Stable Diffusion is open-sourced, and has gone viral in such a short amount of time, we can assume it will improve very fast. Thus we can assume image generation will likely improve in the following months.
Community and Sharing
One of the best features of Stable Diffusion is the community and sharing aspect. When you’re using the software, you’re able to see what other people are generating in real-time, as well as their prompts and settings. This makes it very convenient and easy for you to draw inspiration, which can be very important, especially when you’re starting out.
With Dall-E 2, there are many users sharing their prompts, but not always. With Stable Diffusion, you’re almost guaranteed to find someone who is sharing something that you’re interested in.
Although Stable Diffusion is the best AI art generator currently available, it does have some drawbacks.
- First, as we mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to generate images from original prompts – by this I mean when using new and super specific prompts, like
an alien toaster using its tentacles to spread butter on a slice of toast. This is likely due to the fact that the software is still in its early stages and hasn’t been trained on a large enough dataset.
- Second, Stable Diffusion isn’t great at producing images like logos. This is likely due to the fact that the software is geared more towards complex artistic illustrations.
- Although it has Discord and Lexica.art as a search engine for inspiration, it’s not as good as MidJourney. MidJourney has a built-in search engine so you can easily find exquisite AI art generated by other users, along with their prompts. MidJourney users also vote for creations, which pushes the best ones at the front. This is a huge advantage, in my opinion.
Ease of Use & How to Run
There are multiple ways you can use Stable Diffusion. It’s relatively easy to use. It has some settings that you can tweak, which is more than what Dall-E 2 offers, but it’s not an overwhelming amount of settings.
Using the Official Paid Version
Dream Studio is the official web app for Stable Diffusion. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. When you sign up you get 200 credits for free.
It currently doesn’t save your images in history, and you have to download them right after you generate them. It’s in beta as of writing this article, and it’s sure to improve in the near future.
Using the Free & Open Source Version
There’s a plethora of ways you can generate art using Stable Diffusion for free. There are multiple variants of Google Colab notebooks, and many other systems that implement Stable Diffusion. Rather than list them here, you can check /r/StableDiffusion – List of Stable Diffusion systems on Reddit. It’s a list that is continuously updated with new systems and apps where you can use Stable Diffusion.
My recommendation is to try one of the following:
- mage.space: This is a totally free and easy way to start out using Stable Diffusion. Just visit the site, input your prompt, adjust the settings, and wait for your image to generate.
- Replicate.com: Another popular easy way to start out is to use Stable Diffusion on Replicate.com. You will have limited free usage, however.
- Stable Diffusion with a WebUI: This is a fantastic Google Colab notebook. I absolutely recommend it. This is the best way to use Stable Diffusion, in my opinion. It generates a very nice and user friendly Web UI that you can access from any browser, while Stable Diffusion is running in your colab. You can share the Web UI URL with your friends, colleagues, etc. It uses Gradio for the Web UI. It’s also quite beginner friendly. If you have any issues setting it up leave us a comment and we’ll answer ASAP.Here’s a small demo of how it looks like.
- Stable Diffusion Basic Google Colab Notebook: You can check out tutorial on getting started with Stable Diffusion via Google Colab. It presents the basic Colab usage for absolute beginners, who aren’t familiar with Google Colab.
– Lexica.art – A search engine for other people’s prompts and results for Stable Diffusion. This is a fantastic resource for inspiration. I use it all the time.
– Stable Diffusion Is the Most Important AI Art Model Ever – This article better explains why I’m hyping Stable Diffusion so much.
– 1 week of Stable Diffusion – a more visual compilation of the of services, adaptations, user interfaces and integrations that emerged, using Stable Diffusion, in the first week.
– The /r/StableDiffusion subreddit – this is probably one of the most useful resources you can have, because this is where you’ll hear some of the latest news and latest resources.
– The Stable Diffusion Discord server – Same as with the Stable Diffusion subreddit, except a lot more dynamic and more granular. This is the main community, where Stable Diffusion started and where you get the news right from the source, as well as inspiration and lots of support.
MidJourney (Paid + Free Trial)
MidJourney is the AI art generator that first gave Dall-E 2 a run for its money. It was also featured on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
It probably has the best image quality out of all the software listed here. If I had to choose an AI art generator to sell AI art, I’d most likely choose MidJourney. Images are often incredibly photo-realistic and the software is able to generate a wide variety of images, from portraits to landscapes to abstract art.
MidJourney has a built-in community feed, which is basically like a search engine for everything generated by other users with MidJourney. You can also sort them by popularity and trends, and the ones at the top are simply jaw-droppingly.
Not only does MidJourney generate fantastic images, but you can also use it’s built-in upscaler, and their images look great when upscaled.
The team behind it seems to constantly improve on MidJourney, and we’re constantly seeing updates and new features added to their image generator.
MidJourney generates some incredible images. It probably generates the some of the most aesthetically pleasing images. It’s somewhat difficult to compare it to Stable Diffusion since they seem very similar.
A great advantage that MidJourney has is that it has a built-in search engine for you to search some of the best creations of other users. This way there’s a higher chance for people to get inspired and generate fantastic art. Stable Diffusion has https://lexica.art that does a similar thing, but MidJourney has it built-in, you can see trending or most popular art, bookmark it, and pretty much everyone using MidJourney knows about it since it’s right in their dashboard. Whereas not everyone knows about Lexica.art. I’d say this is a huge advantage for MidJourney.
MidJourney works through a Discord bot. You tell the bot your text and it returns an image. Your images are stored in Discord as well as in the MidJourney dashboard.
Images generated in MidJourney can be very artistic or more realistic, depending on what settings you use. After recent updates, where they also probably integrated Stable Diffusion in their system somehow, it’s generating some incredibly realistic images, that are on a whole new level.
Speaking for myself, just when seeing the top/trending creations in MidJourney’s community feed, I’m convinced that the basic plan ($10/mo) and the standard plan ($30/mo) are more than reasonable.
These are some randomly selected images from the top of the MidJourney Community Feed.
Community and Sharing
MidJourney probably has one of the strongest communities here (if not the strongest). Since, at the time of writing, image generation is done exclusively via Discord, everyone using MidJourney will likely feel part of the community to some degree.
As for sharing, MidJourney has also has the best sharing/inspiration system, in my opinion. You can check out other members’ creations on the Discord server, as well as in your dashboard that you can access via any browser.
Most importantly, the community feed inside your dashboard is like a search engine for other people’s creations. You can bookmark your favorites, and sort by trending or most popular, and see what prompts others have used.
MidJourney’s drawbacks are:
- It’s paid and closed-source. Since we have such a great solution as Stable Diffusion in a free variant, and open-source, allowing anyone to create their own software using it, then this is clearly a drawback. This is quite understandable, however. By keeping their software paid, it means they can focus on developing and improving MidJourney.
- Same with Stable Diffusion, it has difficulty generating images from unique prompts. This is in contrast with Dall-E 2. While Dall-E 2 still may have hiccups, if used right it can generate astoundingly original works.
- Again, similar to Stable Diffusion, it’s geared toward more complex artistic illustrations, and it’s not great at generating things like logos.
- You have to use it through Discord. This is a mild annoyance. It’s probably not a problem for everyone. Having people on Discord probably has it’s perks, but many of us would probably prefer a user interface just for this.
Ease of Use & How to Run
MidJourney is very easy to use. To use it you need a Discord account. When you visit https://www.midjourney.com/ you click to sign up with Discord. Next you’ll find yourself on the Discord server.
To get started you can read their Get Started Guide in MidJourney’s Docs.
To generate images you have to run commands in Discord, like
/imagine a majestic dinosaur with a hat and a monocle. It’s pretty easy, but some might find having to use Discord an inconvenience.
Where MidJourney shines, except for their image generation capabilities, is the fact that they have a community feed in the MidJourney web dashboard. There you can see some of the most beautiful AI generated images and their prompts – which you can also use and modify.
Here’s how the community feed looks like:
- MidJourney Discord Server – the community, as well as basically the AI art generation platform
- Midjourney.com – The MidJourney dashboard. You can subscribe and pay for MidJourney there, see what others have generated in an organized way, and more. You’ll connect to it using your Discord.
Dall-E 2 (Paid)
Dall-E 2 is probably the most famous software on the list, and the one that probably generated the most hype. It is developed by OpenAI, the company behind GPT-3.
It’s in part thanks to OpenAI that we’re enjoying such an increase in AI art generators. They open-sourced their CLIP model, which is a big contribution that changed the game, and it’s an important component of most Stable Diffusion, MidJourney, and Disco Diffusion, and others.
These advancement in AI generated art are definitely a team effort, even though at first glance these generators look like competitors.
It’s image generation capabilities are fantastic. It can generate images from some completely new prompts. Every time you run it you get 4 images.
When comparing it with Stable Diffusion, we could say Stable Diffusion is like an artist that draws inspiration from millions of artworks, so it can generate amazing images based on those artworks, but it has trouble creating “innovative” images. This is where Dall-E 2 shines, because even though there’s a higher chance that you won’t generate aesthetically pleasing images, sometimes Dall-E 2 just seems to generate completely new works that blow you away.
So the success rate of aesthetically pleasing and coherent images may be lower with Dall-E 2, but you can generate some pretty amazing original artworks.
A very useful feature it includes is inpainting, which means it can fill in missing parts of an image.
Given that it can work well with original prompts, if used right, it can be pretty good at creating inspiration for logos, video game assets, or other such things.
If you’re looking for an AI art generator that can handle original and never heard of before prompts, then you’ll want to check out Dall-E 2. It performs better than other AI art generators when given super specific prompts, which can produce impressive results. Just be aware that it isn’t as artsy as some of the other options out there.
Some images generated with Dall-E 2:
Community and Sharing
The community is not as big as Stable Diffusion or MidJourney, however Dall-E 2 is still quite popular. The primary places you’d want to join are:
- Their Discord server: https://discord.gg/openaidalle
- Dall-E 2 subreddit: /r/dalle2
- Follow them on IG: https://www.instagram.com/openaidalle/
The reason that it’s #3 on this list is because:
- It’s paid. Even though I am sure OpenAI are trying to keep prices as low as they can, it’s $15 per 115 image generations (each generation has 4 images). You also get 15 free credits that renew monthly. To me that’s a bit expensive. But I think (and am hoping) that prices will go down in the future. They recently announced that OpenAI GPT-3’s price went down by two-thirds.
- It’s closed-source. This is understandable, but Stable Diffusion spoiled us. Development using Stable Diffusion is advancing at a very fast pace, thanks to it being open-source. However it is thanks to OpenAI open-sourcing their CLIP model that AI art generation software has come a long way in a short time.
- Lower chance of getting a realistic/aesthetic image. Given that it’s paid, and there’s a higher chance of failure, it’s kind of a let down.
- Content Policy. This is probably unfair to count as a drawback – while it is frustrating, it is understandable. Dall-E 2 has the strictest content policy out of all the AI art generators listed here. OpenAI is probably in the spotlight and everyone’s watching, so they have to avoid controversial content or there will probably be a backlash.
Ease of Use & How to Run
To use Dall-E 2 you will have to sign up for the Dall-E 2 waitlist. They seem to still be rolling it out slowly, in comparison to the other popular AI art generators, that are now completely open to the public.
Dall-E 2 is very easy to use. There aren’t any settings to tweak that would make it confusing. It retains a good deal of previously generated images, and you can intuitively use the inpainting feature or generate a art based on an initial image.
- DALL·E 2 Prompt Engineering Guide – This was made by members of the community, and is a very valuable document that aims to help you gain intuition for creating prompts for Dall-E 2
- DALL-E on Instagram
Disco Diffusion (Free)
Disco Diffuson is the AI art generator that I started with and I still love it. It’s free, and mostly used via Google Colab. If you’d like to get started using it, feel free to check out our tutorial on getting started with Disco Diffusion.
Disco Diffusion generates more abstract art than the other AI art generators here. It may also need you to tweak its settings to come close to generating something close to MidJourney or Stable Diffusion.
It’s completely free and open-source. As their Github says, it’s “a frankensteinian amalgamation of notebooks, models and techniques for the generation of AI Art and Animations.” Also, two of the main Disco Diffusion developers are also working on MidJourney and Stable Diffusion.
Since it’s open-source, users from all over the world keep tweaking and having fun with it. It’s seeing continuous development, and users often fine-tune it to generate a specific style of art. For example Pixel Art Diffusion, Medieval Diffusion, Pulp Sci-Fi Diffusion, and many others.
With Disco Diffusion you can generate images, as well as animation.
Overall Disco Diffusion is a bit more technical, is considerably slower than the other AI art generators when generating images, but you can create animations with it, has a lot of configurations and you can fine-tune models to create new styles. It’s also completely free, and you can use it via Google Colab. If you’d like a simple and user friendly way to create generative art, then you’ll probably want to check out the other options on the list.
Images generated with Disco Diffusion tend to be more abstract, and less realistic. They can be quite beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, however.
At first Disco Diffusion wasn’t very good with portraits. But since you can fine tune it on specific styles of art, there is also a way you can generate beautiful portraits.
In my opinion Stable Diffusion and MidJourney are have a big advantage over Disco Diffusion at the moment, especially considering that they’re much easier to use, produce more coherent images, and the fact that Disco Diffusion is considerably slower. If I’m wrong about this, feel free to let me know in the comments.
You can use Disco Diffusion via Google Colab, locally (however you need a strong GPU), or via platforms that offer Disco Diffusion image generation, such as on Replicate.com.
Some popular images generated with Disco Diffusion:
Community and Sharing
The Disco Diffusion community is mainly:
As for sharing, you will find a plethora of fantastic guides and resources for Disco Diffusion. Since it was among the first open-source and free Ai art generators, with lots of settings to tweak, users have been sharing a lot configurations, prompts, and “spin-offs” of the original Disco Diffusion. We’ll link these in the resources section below.
Some drawbacks that Disco Diffusion has:
- Slower than other AI image generators. This depends on your configurations, image size, and such. In my experience, I’d generate images in 20-40 minutes via Google Colab with an Nvidia P100 GPU (your mileage may vary, though). Whereas with Stable Diffusion, which is also free, you need about a minute per image in Google Colab, and images are more coherent.
- More technically complex to run. Although it’s quite easy to run Disco Diffusion, it’s more technical than the others. In addition, Stable Diffusion also has been implemented in many variants that allow you to run it in a more user friendly way.
- Generated images aren’t as coherent as the other tools, and they tend to be more abstract.
Ease of Use & How to Run
For a newcomer, Disco Diffusion is probably the most intimidating. It’s not difficult, but not everyone is comfortable right away when using a software with Python code lying around, lots of configurations, and having to wait 20 minutes for images to be generated.
For a beginner-friendly tutorial on how to run it you can use our guide on getting started with Disco Diffusion via Google Colab.
I used Disco Diffusion on Google Colab almost daily for a month+, and have generated images all day long, and I like it. However Stable Diffusion is considerably more appealing, and easier to use. Since Stable Diffusion is more popular, after just over a week after it was launched, it has (and will have) a lot more guides and implementations making it a lot easier to use, in the near future.
- Our guide on getting started with Disco Diffusion via Google Colab. Feel free to leave a comment if you encounter any issues and we’ll answer as soon as we can.
- Tools and Resources for AI Art by PharmaPsychotic – an excellent list of Disco Diffusion related resources, such as guides and all sorts of adaptations.
- Zippy’s Disco Diffusion Cheatsheet v0.3 – one of the best guides to get you to understand how Disco Diffusion works. This was like the Disco Diffusion bible for me.
- A Traveler’s Guide to the Latent Space – another fantastic guide to help you understand Disco Diffusion. I highly recommend it.
- *A.I. Art* – THE ULTIMATE Disco Diffusion Tutorial – Video tutorial of Disco Diffusion on YouTube. It’s easier to follow, if reading the above mentioned guides is tiring.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Free AI Art Generator?
The best free AI art generator is Stable Diffusion, especially when used with a Web User Interface. You can do that by using this variant of Stable Diffusion using Google Colab and a Web UI.
Is Dall-E 2 Free?
Dall-E 2 isn’t free. While at the time of writing you receive 15 free credits each month, the pricing for Dall-E 2 is $15 per 115 generations. Each generation yields 4 images. So you could say that it’s $15 per 460 images.
Is Dall-E Available to The Public?
Dall-E 2 still works with a waitlist. You can sign up here.
Is Midjourney for Free?
MidJourney isn’t free. It does offer a free trial with ~25 image generations, however after those are used up it costs $10/mo for the Basic Plan, which means ~200 images. It also has a Standard Plan of $30/mo for unlimited images, as long as you don’t generate at a very fast rate. You can learn more about this when checking out their plans.
In this article we covered the best AI art generators, and we tried to cover some essential aspects for each one without going into too much detail. These tools are the ones that we consider the best. We’ll continue to update this article with as much useful info as we can.
If you have any suggestions for another tool or have any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.