One of the more evocative platforms for AI art, Midjourney, has now opened to everyone in beta mode.
This is the second time that the platform has opened to all as a beta. On July 18, the platform opened up for 24 hours. In an email sent out to Midjourney beta testers on Tuesday, however, founder David Holz wrote that the “Midjourney beta is now open to everyone.”
Midjourney is one of the more interesting entrants in the small but growing field of AI art, which takes user-generated queries, runs them through an AI algorithm, and lets the algorithm pull from its source images and apply various artistic techniques to the resulting image. Midjourney’s images look somewhat similar in quality to those outputted by Latitude’s Voyage, though Latitude charges $14.99 for 20 image credits as part of its paid plan.
For now, beta users will receive about 25 free images as part of the Midjourney beta. After that you’ll have to pay either $10/mo for 200 images per month, or a standard membership of $30 per month for unlimited use. Midjourney will allow corporate use of the generated images for a special enterprise membership. Otherwise, the images belong to you.
On Sept. 29, the “godfather” of AI art, DALL-E, also went “free” on a similar, credit-based plan. DALL-E, however, seems far more literal than Midjourney. If you’re hoping for a more photo-realistic prompt, stick with DALL-E; however, if you prefer more artistic creations, Midjourney seems like the better bet. Meta also showed off Make-A-Video, which takes AI art and interpolates them to create GIFs and small video clips.
There’s only one catch with Midjourney: prompts and the resulting images are generated via Discord, the social networking/chat app. To be part of Midjourney, you’ll need a free Discord membership. (PCWorld’s beginner’s guide to Discord can help you get settled if you’re new to the service.) The following link will sign you up for the Midjourney service: discord.gg/midjourney.
While Midjourney does provide a user manual, using it boils down to this. Within Discord, you’ll need to join one of the quickly growing number of “#newbies” channels — it doesn’t matter which one. Once inside the channel, simply type “/imagine” and then the text prompt. Remember, even though there’s AI generating the output, guiding the style is up to you. It’s worth scrolling up and down the various “newbies” channels to see what prompts generate which responses, and which styles you can apply.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Some results will amaze you; others will disappoint. There’s a bit of luck in it all. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with my “a kraken appears from beneath San Francisco Bay,” but the resulting image from “a castle on an asteroid floating through space” at the top of this story is pretty awesome.
Each time you enter a request, you’ll receive an almost immediate result, in a matrix of four images that are all variations of the theme. Below each image you’ll also see several buttons. Each button has a meaning: the “U” buttons upscale a particular image, for 1 to 4; the “V” buttons ask the AI to provide a variation the theme on the particular image. The circular arrow is a “do over” for the entire array. Be careful! Simply tapping each button generates the command, and charges you an image credit in return.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Don’t be discouraged by the sheer volume of requests, either. Because of the nature of Discord, you’ll see your query and results quickly zoom off the page. To solve this problem, click the inbox item in the upper right-hand corner. (It actually looks an RJ45 Ethernet port on a computer.) That will open up a list of the relevant messages from the Midjourney bot. Click the “jump” button to take you to the actual message in Discord, where you can interact with the image.
Mark Hachman / IDG
You can also find your own personal galley of images simply by visiting your “home page” within Midjourney. You can click the small “ellipsis” menu next to the image to “open [it] in Discord.” That will open Discord and allow you to apply the modifications above.
How to get more Midjourney image credits for free
By default, all of the prompts that you generate are “fast,” or immediate. You can get more image credits, for “free,” by switching to the “/relax” command. This puts your request in a queue, rather than processing it immediately. It’s unclear how long this additional queue time actually is, but Midjourney won’t charge you a credit for using it.
Unfortunately, this loophole only works as a subscriber. On the other hand, if you do end up signing up for the $10/mo plan and get hooked, but can’t justify spending $30 per month on cool images, you might try this option!
This story was updated in Sept. 29 to add details about DALL-E and Make-A-Video.