Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Everyone loves to generate AI art, but no one likes to pay for it. The good news is that you don’t actually have to pay up if you want some AI art right this minute, and you don’t have to settle for poor results just because you’re on a budget. Here are five places you can go right now and make some pretty pictures.

1 Craiyon

Craiyon image generation front end showing the prompt 'retro computer' and some example images.

This tool used to be known as “DALL-E Mini”, but had to change to Craiyon since the company isn’t affiliated with OpenAI or its DALL-E image generator. I want to be upfront that Craiyon doesn’t produce very good results compared to most paid or free AI image generators, but it’s the only free option that still has that unique “jankiness” that early AI images had. While everyone is approaching perfection with their models, Craiyon has retained that quirky charm, and so deserves some love in my opinion.

2 Stable Diffusion Online

The Stable Diffusion Online web front end with retro computer images.

If you have a GPU with enough memory and performance, you can run Stable Diffusion locally on your computer. If not, or you don’t want the hassle, then you can use this high-end image generation model via Stable Diffusion Online. You can sign up and generate images for free, although you only get a limited number of credits to play with. Also, on the free plan images have a watermark, but you can always crop that out if you’re smart with the aspect ratio selection. Overall, the quality of the images generated here is great and comparable to paid services like MidJourney or DALL-E.

3 Ideogram

Ideogram website with images of retro computers.

Ideogram is a hot new competitor to MidJourney which I found to be quite promising in terms of features, but not quite there when it comes to the final quality of the results or consistency. However, one big advantage Ideogram has over MidJourney is its free tier. MidJourney used to offer a free tier, but has since ended it. So if you want something quite similar, but don’t want to pay for it, give Ideogram a shot. It’s definitely one of the best AI image generators on the market right now.

4 Artbreeder

Artbreeder prompter with images of retro computers.

Artbreeder offers a set of different tools that let you do all sorts of creative things with images. This includes “Prompter” which is the core tool to create images from text prompts. However, there’s some interesting stuff that lets you mix images, create a character with a certain pose from source images, and much more. The output is quite decent, but it works best when you provide your own source images in addition to your text prompt.

The free tier comes with 10 credits per month, but you can get more by earning achievements.

5 OpenArt

OpenArt prompting interface with images of retro computers.

OpenArt comes with a 50-credit trial, and if you join the OpenArt Discord server, you’ll get another one-time allocation of 100 credits. These credits let you use all the premium features of the service. Once you’ve used up those credits and fall back to the free tier, you’ll be limited to 50 generations using one of only four models per day. You’re also limited in terms of image size.

One major bonus of the free tier for OpenArt is that even images generated on the free tier are private, which is not true for the competition who usually require a paid subscription (and quite an expensive one) to generate images privately. While you’re enjoying those free trial credits, you’ll have access to a mind-boggling number of specialized image generation models, so make the most of it!

While it’s definitely worth paying for a premium art generation service like MidJourney, if you just want to make some AI images for a once-off project, or you want to learn the ins and outs of this fascinating new technology without spending any money, these free services offer more than most people will ever need.

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By John P.

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