“If you can imagine it, you can create it” is a classic quote attributed to William Arthur Ward. But he probably wasn’t thinking about Ronald McDonald as a Star Trek character or a medieval-style painting depicting the Wi-Fi not working. For better or worse, DALL-E 2 can now conjure anything your mind can dream up, in a matter of seconds, with just a simple text prompt.
DALL-E 2 is an AI art generator similar to Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, NightCafe and Deep Dream Generator. Along with ChatGPT, it’s the work of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company founded by Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley heavyweights in 2015. The name DALL-E 2 came from merging the names of beloved surrealist artist Salvador Dali and the famously lonely Disney robot WALL-E.
DALL-E 2 is an improvement over its predecessor for image quality. Because of this, it’s disrupting the design space, and many have wondered if it will take their jobs or even replace human creatives entirely. But is there any truth to this? Is DALL-E a friend or a foe to graphic designers?
As a full-service creative marketing agency, Anchor actively stays updated with new developments in digital technology and tools, including AI. Let's take a closer look at DALL-E 2: what it is, why it’s making waves and how it may influence the future of graphic design.
What is DALL-E 2 AI?
DALL-E 2 is one of the best AI art generators on the market and is currently the most popular. It’s easy to use. All you have to do is type in a prompt for the sort of image you want to see, and DALL-E 2 will generate four images. The more detailed the prompt, the closer to your vision the images will be.
As its name suggests, DALL-E 2 is the second of its kind. OpenAI released the first DALL-E in January 2021, and while it definitely had an impact on the design world and provided entertainment for many, it also had its limits. The images it generated were restricted to 256 x 256, looked a little wacky and cartoonish and took prompts very literally with little room for nuance.
DALL-E 2, released in September 2022, tried to sort these issues out. Its images are more photorealistic and so vivid that it is at times hard to believe the animals and foods depicted weren’t real. DALL-E 2 not only produces higher-resolution images than its predecessor, but it also provides you with more detailed and specific ones. One of its most useful new developments is the ability to modify existing images with inpainting and outpainting, adding new details to pictures of expanding them beyond their original parameters.
On top of that, it’s affordable. Permanently free if you registered before April 6, 2023, it now costs $15 for 115 credits. So should designers be worried this cheap, fast-working technology is going to out-compete them in the market?
DALL-E 2’s Impact on Design
Images created with DALL-E 2 are not copyrighted, and OpenAI has given users their blessing to sell them for profit. Naturally, some design professionals have already taken advantage of that. Some current and potential impacts of DALL-E 2 on the world of design include:
Replacing stock photos
While the results are still somewhat rough (case in point: hands and faces), and it can take more than one try to get exactly what you want, DALL-E 2 generated images have the potential to replace stock photos. The days of getting the specific kind of shot you want for your blog post, website or e-book faster and cheaper than stock images may not be far away.
Brainstorming and mockups
Whether it’s a commercial storyboard, a logo brainstorming session or a branding mockup, DALL-E 2 can be a fast and efficient way to create detailed plans and guides.
Redefining creative roles
Graphic designers, photographers and artists have been understandably concerned about what DALL-E 2 will mean for them. It will almost definitely require creative professionals to adopt new skills to deal with the changes ahead.
Will DALL-E 2 Replace Graphic Design?
There seems to be a general consensus in the industry right now that AI will change the nature of creative roles but not replace them.
No matter how good a computer program is, it can’t think creatively. It doesn’t have the empathy or outside-the-box imagination required for skills like humour, market research and UX design.
DALL-E 2 can’t conceive of something new and original. It can only do what it’s been trained to do with the data it’s been fed. Graphic designers should see it not as competition but as a tool to help them create, one that’s often best used in combination with other tools like Photoshop.
DALL-E 2 doesn’t mean the end of graphic designers but will likely change the nature of their role, the same way all disruptive technologies inevitably do.
Benefits of DALL-E 2
DALL-E 2 has the potential to impact the design industry in positive ways, including
- Increasing the supply and reducing the cost of artistic assets like stock photos will allow smaller brands to creatively compete with larger companies on a more modest budget.
- Saving marketers and designers time and money on creating visual assets and plans.
- Creating personalised images for products that are difficult to represent, such as an object or person in a particular setting.
- Creating jobs. While AI programs like DALL-E 2 will replace some jobs, they also have the potential to open up new opportunities.
Limitations of DALL-E 2
We’ve established that DALL-E 2 is not a replacement for human creatives, and it’s also not without its issues. Because the software does have some issues recreating human faces and human hands (as the image above shows), AI is not quite at the stage of replacing human creatives. The results that are created also largely rely on the quality of the prompt provided by the human operator.
While brands are free to use DALL-E 2’s images, even commercially, things are far from simple. AI’s practice of using existing art for its machine learning can sometimes result in works that blur the lines between stylistic imitation and copyright infringement, and some visual artists have launched class action lawsuits against AI companies.
Despite the technology evolving rapidly, at this point in time, AI is no replacement for creative professionals and comes with a range of complexities involving legality, quality and ethics.
Graphic Design with Anchor
If you want responsive, impactful visual communication and a stronger first impression than any AI can create, contact Anchor.
Whether it’s branding, products, websites or print, we can help you reach your target demographics and turn them into happy customers.
Our graphic design is optimised for both form and function, with a focus on both UX and UI. We can accomplish the tough task of balancing striking visual design with the clear communication of information.
Form follows function and your visual identity springs from your band. We focus on the story you want to tell and build your brand assets from there. The visual design remains consistent, and every detail, no matter how small, has a purpose.
Our graphic designers stay informed on new developments in technology, including in the field of AI. We’re happy to embrace any innovation that works, but we remain committed to the timeless design principles that have always worked.