I love AI art, but it’s taken a lot of research and testing to learn how to make solid AI text prompts. When I set out to write this post, I wanted to provide the most beneficial prompt-engineering tips I’ve learned to help you write the best possible AI inputs. I’ve found these five AI art prompt tips helpful:
- Use detailed prompts to get specific results.
- Focus on subject and style keywords instead of connecting words.
- Have a list of solid modifiers and styles.
- Choose subjects and styles that support each other.
- Use 3 to 9 different seeds to get a well-rounded idea of the results a prompt can produce.
The first tip is to always be sure to experiment and have fun. The possibilities with AI art generator tools are endless. Let’s get you started.
What’s An AI Art Text Prompt?
Did you know there’s a prompt marketplace where you can sell AI art prompts for $1.99? Writing good prompts is a crucial skill in creating AI images; thus, if you cultivate it well enough, you can get paid for your creativity.
An AI text prompt is a short phrase or sentence input into an AI art generator program. It gives creative direction by describing what image to generate.
Then, the artificial intelligence program uses natural language processing (NLP) to interpret what you are trying to say and generate images to match.
Because text is free-form and open-ended, structuring inputs to produce desired AI art results is tricky. Below are the best practices for creating effective AI art prompts.
Use Detailed Prompts To Get Specific Results
Most AI art generators have studied over a hundred million images, so there’s nothing wrong with writing vague prompts that allow the AI art generator to explore a wide range of possibilities.
But, if you have a clear vision of what you want to create and are trying to get a specific effect, being detailed and precise in your prompts can make all the difference.
Example of turning a detailed photography prompt into an AI artwork
To create a detailed AI art photography prompt, take the time to ask yourself questions like:
- How is the photo composed? What is the subject matter?
- How close are we to the subject? What angle? What is the lighting?
- Where is it shot? In the studio or out in the world?
- What year was it taken?
- In what context was this photo ultimately published or used?
- And more. You can find more of these questions in the Dalle-E2 prompt book.
Answering these questions can jumpstart your writing. I ran the following prompt using the NightCafe AI art generator tool:
“A close-up, black & white studio photographic portrait of giant titanic, dramatic backlighting, 1973 photo from Life Magazine”
Notice how the NLP picked up on the stylistic choices all the way to the specifics of being an old Life Magazine cover. Be creatively specific, but also remember to keep your subject in mind.
Focus On Subject And Style Keywords Instead Of Connecting Words
Typically a text prompt consists of subject matter and style keywords.
“A cityscape in the style of van Gogh,” for example. The subject matter is what the generated image will be about, and the style key phrase describes its aesthetics.
When writing a prompt, pay particular attention to the subject matter. For example, A cityscape + style keywords (e.g., van Gogh) rather than the connecting words (e.g., in the style of). This is because those two are the words that will determine the results.
Rephrasing or rearranging the same keywords in a prompt doesn’t produce very different results.
For instance, all these nine phrases (a-i) would generate very similar results, with only slight variations.
Source: Design Guidelines for Text-to-Image Prompting
- A MEDIUM of SUBJECT in the STYLE style — Example: A painting of an ocean in the style of Disney
- A STYLE MEDIUM of a SUBJECT — Example: A Disney painting of an ocean
- SUBJECT STYLE — Example: Ocean Disney art
- SUBJECT. STYLE — Example: Ocean. Disney art
- SUBJECT in the style of STYLE — Example: Ocean in the style of Disney art
- SUBJECT in the STYLE style — Example: Ocean painted in the Disney art style
- SUBJECT VERB in the STYLE style — Example: Ocean painted in the Disney style
- SUBJECT made/done/verb in the STYLE art style — Example: Ocean made in the Disney art style
- SUBJECT with a STYLE style — Example: Ocean with a Disney art style
Based on your goal, focusing on a particular text prompt structure will emphasize the aspect you find more important to the NLP engine. However, once you’ve got your primary subject and style targeted, add some extra “brushstrokes.”
Have A List Of Strong Modifiers and Styles
Regarding writing style keywords, some modifiers work better than others. Here’s my list of modifiers that I first got from the Dalle-E2 prompt engineering guide. I keep these words on hand as I compose my prompts:
- digital art, steampunk art, cyberpunk art,
- deco art, vector art, low poly art, line art,
- ball-point pen art, cartoon art, 3D art, pixel art, Sticker illustration
- Award-Winning Art, “Trending on ArtStation
- Detailed, Photorealistic
- Unreal Engine, Fanart
Image quality and lighting modifiers:
- 4K/8K, 35mm lens,
- 15mm wide-angle lens, At/During Golden Hour, or Golden Hour Sunlight
- Studio Lighting, Cinematic Lighting
As you view AI art from other artists, take note of the modifiers used in their text prompts or from the artworks’ titles. Start compiling your list of style modifiers, then take the next step.
Choose Subjects and Styles That Support Each Other
Think about how the subject and style you choose will complement one another. After all, the subject matter and the style are inextricably linked, and they must work together to create a cohesive piece.
Some subjects go better with certain styles than others. But, ideally, when choosing a subject for a more abstract style, choose one that is easily interpretable or has high relevance to the selected style.
Here are some general tips:
- Abstract vs. Concrete: Pick subjects that can match the chosen style in the level of abstractness.
- Interpretability: Pair subjects and styles that are easily interpreted together. For instance, if you want the image to have a certain feeling, choose a subject and style that evoke that feeling.
- Relevance: The subject should be relevant to the style. If you’re going for a cyberpunk style, choose a subject related to cyberpunk culture. If you want the image to look like it’s from a particular era, pick a subject and style from that era.
- Avoid using style keywords that the algorithm may misinterpret. For example, “Action painting art style” refers to artists who paint dynamically with drips and splatters. However, the algorithm can infer a guy in action when given the prompt “a man in action painting style.”
Use 3 to 9 Different Seeds To Get A Well-Rounded Idea Of The Results Prompt Can Produce
The stochastic nature of AI art generator tools means you will only sometimes get consistent or repeatable results from a prompt.
A random seed is an initialization parameter that helps AI art generators have reproducible results and behavior.
It’s important to experiment with multiple seeds (starting points) when exploring a new prompt. Test out anywhere from 3 to 9 different seeds. This will give you a good idea of the range of results the prompt can produce.
I’ve written more articles about AI art to help you make the most of your generator credits.