Skip to main content

Is Your Next Design or Writing Partner an AI? A Look at Artificial Intelligence and the Creative Arts with DALL-E 2, Jasper, and Rytr

DALL·E + TET - "A photorealistic image of an intelligent, futuristic android robot sitting at a writing desk using a very old typewriter"
DALL·E + TET - "A photorealistic image of
an intelligent, futuristic android robot sitting
at a writing desk using a very old typewriter
in an old fashioned office study that is
illuminated by candle light."

Where do you get your ideas from? Chances are you didn't ask a computer but, with advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), your next writing or design partner could well be a machine.

Originally this article was going to just be about writing AI's. But then I finally got access to DALL-E 2, after a month or so wait, and it was the perfect opportunity to generate an image of a robot writing a script (see the feature image and caption at the top of this article. Completely AI generated image based on my prompt).

If you're not familiar with these 'creative' AIs they don't sit around waiting for inspiration to hit - which would raise questions of are AI's alive? 

Generally they're complex algorithms that can interpret natural text (i.e. text written by a human for other humans) into an image or an extended block of writing. Without a prompt these AI's don't do anything. With prompts they get better at interpreting text over time. i.e. they learn.

Image AIs - DALL-E 2

DALL-E 2 is one of the most well known image generating AIs. Not only can it generate high quality images from text, it can also be used to edit and enhance existing images. At the time of writing, to access it you needed to sign up for the waitlist. Once you have access they give you 50 free credits. One credit equals one generation of four images. You can purchase extra credit or wait for 15 free credits every month.

DALL-E 2 has some restrictions on what images you can upload (currently nothing with a recognizable human face for example) and it generally won't work if you ask it to produce images of well known people.

In terms of replacing artists these AI's are not there yet. For example, one of the things I would like to try with DALL-E 2 is to create all the art for an animated short. To do that I need character models. For Cartoon Animator I can rig an entire front facing character from a single character image standing in an 'A' pose.

Four generations of trying to get my Android character suggestion to fit fully inside the image frame. Only one was close and it wasn't the best looking one in my opinion.
Four generations of trying to get my character suggestion to
fit fully inside the image frame. Only one was close and it
wasn't the best looking one in my opinion.

To see if DALL-E 2 was up to the task I entered the initial prompt: A Futuristic Android Robot in the style of a Tesla. Full body, front facing view, standing in an 'A' pose (see image). While the initial character designs were great, each image had the head and feet cropped out.

I thought maybe DALL-E 2 was thinking 'Full body' meant I literally wanted just the body. I modified my phrase to specifically include the head and feet. I got one image that was almost there, and it wasn't particularly the best looking of all the generations.

While I could probably just take my favorite torso from these generations and then ask DALL-E to produce the head and feet in separate images that I can add in, the other problem is, DALL-E can't give me a set of turnaround images for this character. I can't even ask it to give me an image of the same robot but in side view (or even the same robot doing anything else). The AI has no concept of how to manipulate elements within an image so they remain the same but from a different angle.

If you just need single stand alone images to illustrate an article, DALL-E 2 is great for that.

Where its strength really lies is being able to visualize an idea in seconds. Which makes for a potentially powerful design partner.

I could take any of these Android designs, or combine the best features into an amalgamated final design. A real head start on designing an Android from scratch.

CrAIyon delivers lower res but no less interesting images - and has fewer limitations compared to DALL-E2.
CrAIyon delivers lower res but no less
interesting images - and has fewer
limitations compared to DALL-E2.
If you're interested in seeing DALL-E 2 pitted against a real graphic designer tech guru Marques Brownlee posted the video, Can AI Replace Our Graphic Designer? to his behind the scenes channel, The Studio. It's a very laid back video but worth it for the comparisons.

If you'd like to try an image AI for yourself but don't want to wait to be approved for DALL-E 2 then the website Replicate.com has a number of different image AI's you can play around with for free right now. You could also try CrAIyon (formerly known as DALL-E mini). It's images are low res. Try upscaling the best outputs with Replicates Image Restorer.

Writing AIs - Jasper & Rytr

Writing AIs are actually more established in their use and I would not be surprised if they're how much of the copy is generated for those bland click bait websites that exist solely to keep you clicking 'Next' while being bombarded by the surrounding ads.

They work in a similar way to image AIs in that you provide a text prompt of what you want the AI to write about, and the AI does the rest. However you do get a few more parameters like the type of article, the tone, style, etc.

You may be asking, why would anyone creative want to use a bland copy producing writing AI? As it turns out, they can also write creative, fictional stories.

I tried two of the best, Jasper and Rytr, both of which you can trial for free (note: links to both of these sites are my affiliate links). Jasper gives you a five day free trial and 10,000 words, while Ryter is free forever but you only get 5000 characters per month (and I burned through mine in ten minutes). Fortunately the lowest paid plan is only US$9.00 per month so if you do find it useful it's not too expensive to upgrade. Jasper's lowest plan starts at US$29.00 per month.

If you're interested in reading a blog post I generated with Jasper visit my TET.Life blog and read the article Checking in on Tesla's Optimus Robot - Managing Expectations where I include the full text of an article written by Jasper based on my text prompt. However in this article I'm going to compare outputs of Jasper and Rytr's story telling abilities.

I'm only going to compare one input with each, otherwise you'll be doing a lot of reading despite these stories each only being a couple of paragraphs long.

My Text Input for Both AIs

Without naming my superhero character, Bat Storm, I basically gave each AI the premise of what he is about. This is my text prompt:

A superhero having a bad day trying to fight crime but getting distracted with everyday life problems and his daughter.
DALL-E's interpretations of my text prompt with 'in a comic book style' added to steer it away from photographic images.
DALL-E's interpretations of my text prompt with 'in a comic book style' added
to steer it away from photographic images.

Jasper's Second Story

This was Jasper's second story based on my prompt. The first story read like a fan fiction for Superman with all the names; Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Daily Planet, and all the tropes; 'Cat stuck in a tree', 'lost child' etc. The only original idea was Clark now had a daughter struggling with her math homework.

The superhero had a bad day. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. He was running late for his fight against crime, and kept getting sidetracked by everyday life problems. His daughter was being particularly stubborn and wouldn't stop asking for his attention.

By the time he finally made it to the crime scene, he was exhausted and out of breath. The supervillain was already there, waiting for him. They fought fiercely, but in the end the superhero lost. This wasn't how it was supposed to go at all.

All in all, I didn't think this was a bad effort. There is the bare bones of a complete story that you could certainly take inspiration from or expand upon. 

Rytr's Turn

Interestingly Rytr also went straight to the IP infringement with a story about Spider-man on its first attempt so this is Rytr's second story as well.

A man, who is a superhero by night, wakes up from a dream where he's saving George Clooney from a burning building. He goes to the balcony of his apartment and sees the city in an alarming state with all sorts of bad guys going about their own business. He tries to fly to fight crime but his daughter is going to school and asks him to drive her there first. When he drops off his daughter, he has nothing in the tank for fighting crime and gets into an argument with his wife about coming home late last night, who then reminds him that they have no food in the fridge.

He goes to the store on the way back home and sees two guys fighting over a parking spot so he punches one in the face, knocking him out. The fight causes the entire store to go into chaos right outside of his wife's favorite grocery store, so he runs inside and buys everything she needs, which includes wine because it's been a long week.

You have to admit Rytr definitely packed a lot into this, raising a bunch of questions along the way, starting with does he dream about saving George Clooney often? I particularly like that he buys wine for his wife at the end because it's not just him having a bad day, she's had a long week!

Are They Your Next Writing Partner?

Honestly, these are just my very first experimentations with writing AIs. How good the output is really depends on how descriptive your text prompts are. I tried much longer and more detailed prompts with Jasper (Rytr has 200 character limit) and got more detailed, though not necessarily longer, stories that were a little more structured. With superhero stories both had a tendency to name drop existing IP characters.

I don't think they'll be replacing actual human storytellers any time soon but if I was having a hard time coming up with an idea for an animated short, I could see myself entering a half baked idea just to see what the AI would come up with.

That aside, writing AIs are capable of writing in so many different scenarios from sales copy to email, blog posts and more. You could really save quite a bit of time using AI to write your first draft, then add your own voice, edits and original words for the final draft.

The Bottom Line

I've heard so many people say that AIs are finally going to take the jobs of creative people and that may well be true in the short term. However, if you are a creative person, embracing these AIs as a tool in your workflow may well be your best bet to stay competitive.

The one thing an AI can't be is you. While they can make images and tell stories they're never going to have your unique viewpoint or perspective.

What they can do is burn through ideas as part of a brainstorm session really quickly. Imagine you take your ten best ideas for a project and put them into an AI. Within minutes or even seconds you can see possibilities for how a concept might further be developed, or just doesn't work.

You can then do, what these AI's really can't do very well, take one idea and explore it further, filtering out what works and what doesn't. Some of that exploration might even be feeding more ideas back into an AI. Regardless it still takes a human to really take the output of current AI's to the next level.

Maybe one day an AI will be advanced enough to properly co-ordinate a collection of ideas but for the moment they're really only having fleeting 'thoughts' and aren't advanced enough to assemble their best thoughts into more meaningful ideas.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

How to Use Plask and Reallusion's 3DXchange to Create Full Body 3D Motion Capture Animation for Cartoon Animator

Last month I reviewed Plask , a free, browser based app that allows you to create 3D motion capture files for animation from a webcam or prerecorded video footage. At the time my hope was that Plask could be used to create 3D motion capture files for Cartoon Animator 4. Unfortunately my knowledge of how to export 3D animation motion files between applications is fairly basic and I wasn't able to figure it out. However, thanks to 3D animation enthusiast and game developer, Freedom (of the YouTube Channel Freedom Arts ), who published a tutorial on how to use Plask with iClone7 characters (in my review I wasn't able to work that out either) there is now a workflow from Plask, via Reallusion's  3DXchange , to Cartoon Animator that is relatively easy to follow and works well. Note: If you want to try this out, 3DXchange is available as a free 30 day trial download if you don't have it. Creating Your 3D Motion Capture File in Plask I'm not going to do a detailed run

Creating a G3-360 Head From a Single Photo in Reallusion's Cartoon Animator

Source Photo from Generated Photos . Ever since Reallusion introduced the G3-360 Character Head into Cartoon Animator 4 I've wanted to see if their 360 Head Creator tool could be used to create an animated head using a photo. Part of the reason I've never given this a shot, until now, is that I just assumed it would be difficult, and require a lot of photo editing to blend out the sprite edges. It turns out, creating a photographic G3-360 head is not that much more difficult than creating a cartoon head, and can be done using a single photographic image using my own G3-360 head rigging system . While this article isn't intended to be a full tutorial, I'll run through the basic steps of how I achieved my photographic G3-360 head, shown in the comparison below, of a Cartoon Animator Morph-based head on the left, and my G3-360 head on the right. Pros and Cons Cartoon Animator's morph-based head system is ideal for animating photographic faces. It uses a semi 3D wire me

KIT Scenarist - Free, Open Source, Screenwriting Software that Helps Research Your Ideas Too

KIT Scenarist Script Writing Software's Mascot, Alexander Cat. While you can write a script in any word processing app, if you're writing stories (screenplays) that feature characters and dialogue, a dedicated script writing app can save a lot of time formatting, letting you focus more on the actual story. Script writing apps are also very useful if you plan to send your screenplays out to production companies, or if you're collaborating with actors and other production people, who are used to scripts being in a particular standard format.  [Note: In case you're wondering there are reasons scripts follow a standard format and are always written in Courier (typewriter) font, including but not limited to; being easy to read by actors, plenty of space for notes, and the general rule that one page of a script (in this format) equals approximately one minute of screen time.] KIT Scenarist , in my opinion, is one of the best script writing apps out there for ease of use, simp

Create 2D Animated Characters with 3D Character Creator Tools and Artistic Filters

3D CC3 TET Character, based on my Oppa Doll Avatar, used as the base for a 2D CA4 character. One of my favorite things to do is to create characters with any type of Avatar/Character creator app. In fact the first test I usually try with these tools is, can I make an avatar of me (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona). Previously I've used 2D character creators like Oppa Doll as a source of artwork for some characters I've made for Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 animation studio but 2D character creators are limited to... well 2D. 3D Character Creators While you may think 3D character creators have no place in creating characters for 2D animation there are quite a number of advantages including: No drawing skills required. Render characters in any style. Use an art filter or even hand trace into line art. Need to animate the character in a specific pose or angle? Render out an image of the character in the required angle and animate it in 2D. Quicker to crea