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DALL-E 2 from OpenAI shows how impressive the creativity of AI can be – if you know how to control it. A short tour through DALL-E 2.

I have now had access to DALL-E 2 for almost two weeks and have been able to test the artificial intelligence extensively. My interim conclusion: DALL-E 2 by OpenAI is currently the best available AI system for image generation and editing.

With DALL-E 2 you can create photos, illustrations, paintings, or 3D art with a simple text input. The quality of the images often approaches or is even comparable to that of professionals. Alternatives like Midjourney are on the rise, but they don’t yet reach the quality of DALL-E 2.

Which prompt is behind this motif? Guess in the comments. | Image: Generated with DALL-E 2 by OpenAI

In the following I would like to give you a short insight into the functions of DALL-E 2 and the high art of prompt design.

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OpenAI DALL-E 2 can create, edit or modify images

DALL-E 2’s user interface is as simple as can be: You can enter your text command, called “prompt”, via an input field and send it to the AI system by clicking “Generate”. After a short waiting time, DALL-E 2 outputs four images.

Generating AI images is simple: You put text into a text field. The input can be short or detailed. Your prompt has a strong impact on output.

Below the input field, you can alternatively upload your own picture – as long as it does not show a real person. From uploaded and newly created images, DALL-E 2 can generate variants. This makes it relatively easy to create images inspired by existing subjects that can then be further edited. In this way, the AI system can be controlled even more precisely.

A click on an image opens the detailed view. Here, variations can be created, or the image can be edited.

In addition, the edit function can be used to mark an area in the image, which can then be changed by DALL-E 2. For this, the desired result must simply be described via text prompt again.

The area to be edited can be marked with a brush.

DALL-E 2 then generates three variants of the original containing the corresponding changes. Here I have added a fancy mustache to the statue.

A mustache for a Greek philosopher? No problem for DALL-E 2.

OpenAI DALL-E 2 and the prompt design

As is already clear from the example of the ancient bust of the Greek VR pioneer, DALL-E 2 can be controlled in astonishing detail via text input. OpenAI has trained the AI system with over 650 million images – so DALL-E 2 has seen and can reproduce numerous subjects, styles, exposures and other image properties.


Using so-called prompt design – the design of the appropriate text description – DALL-E 2 can, for example, generate photorealistic images with different lens specifications to simulate small focal lengths or motion blur.

DALL-E 2 can reproduce the image style of different cameras, here Polaroid.

With the right descriptions, you can also capture moods, define structures or proportions, reproduce styles such as steampunk or cyberpunk, determine camera angles and exposure, or use the design of TV series or movies as a template.

Numerous illustration styles can be imitated by DALL-E 2, as well as 3D art or historical paintings. This ability to imitate styles is also demonstrated by DALL-E 2 for numerous artistic styles, individual artists or specific works.

Thanks to extensive training, DALL-E 2 can also reproduce styles such as steampunk.
DALL-E 2 can also imitate the style of individual artists or paintings.

If you want to capture the style of a particular work of art or artist, you can also use AI help: In the so-called unbundling, first DALL-E-2 users ask the text AI GPT-3 to describe the characteristics and style of a painting. The comprehensive AI response can then be used for prompt design.

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In addition to antique busts, DALL-E 2 can also create other objects – from embroidery to statues, bodies, stuffed animals, architecture, or designer chairs, it’s all there.

Half dog, half Jedi, half Greek philosopher – DALL-E 2 impresses with meaningful interpretations.

DALL-E 2: External image editing, prompt design and editing function

With the already introduced editing function, details in the image can be changed, such as adding a mustache, replacing objects, or the entire background.

Since the generated images can also be downloaded, an external image editing program can be used to get even more out of DALL-E 2. In the simplest version, our bust of the Greek philosopher can be reduced in size and used as the basis for a new image.

With simple tricks, the pictures can be edited further. Here, for example, you can generate a statue to go with the head.

Paintings can be added using the same method. DALL-E 2 can give Mona Lisa a body, and our Greek VR philosopher gets company.

DALL-E 2 adds the VR philosopher’s torso and environment, matching the desired style. With further adjustments, the results can be refined.

If you repeat this process often, you can zoom out further and further – some artists already create impressive journeys through DALL-E 2 worlds or giant murals.

By combining external image processing, intelligent prompt design and the editing function of DALL-E 2, many other applications are possible.

If you want to dig deeper, you should check out the DALL-E 2 Prompt Book by Guy Parsons. This gives a comprehensive overview of many of the prompt designs discovered so far and additional methods for getting the most out of DALL-E 2.

Within the next few weeks, about one million people should have access to DALL-E 2. OpenAI announced this recently, along with pricing for DALL-E 2 as it entered the beta phase.

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Max is managing editor at THE DECODER. As a trained philosopher, he deals with consciousness, AI, and the question of whether machines can really think or just pretend to.
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