February 14, 2023

Streamlining the illustration process with AI technology

George, our creative designer, talks about the future of AI and how we can integrate it into our workplace.

Streamlining the illustration process with AI technology

Using AI-generated images has become a hot topic in the creative world. In my blog Artificial intelligence and the impact on design, I discussed how AI could be used as a tool to push our designs further and achieve more. But what does that look like in practice?

Illustration style is an essential component of graphic design and when creating our sister company Transform ESG’s website illustrations, we used the opportunity as a case study on AI and illustrator collaboration.

Read on to learn more from Graphic Designer Georgine Tucker on how you can harness the power of AI for your illustrations.

Step 1: Choose a platform

If you follow creative news, it can feel like we are inundated with AI-generated art software left, right and centre. There are a number to choose from: DALL-E 2, Dream by WOMBO, Deep Dream Generator, and many more. It’s important to choose the one that fits your needs and skill level as an illustrator. We opted for Midjourney because it’s known for having a wide array of art styles. Unsure of what we wanted, this gave us seemingly limitless options to explore before committing. An image that could take the best part of a day to do was now done in mere moments.

Step 2: Craft a good prompt

Like they say, you are what you eat, and AI is no different. Feed it with the wrong prompts, and you get the wrong results. If you want a particular image or style, you will need to use specific words that accurately describe it. If you want something broader, like our search for inspiration, opt for the less-is-more technique. Using a few brand-related keywords, we generated the four initial variations Midjourney gave us for each prompt, then progressed the one we liked best to make four more. We continued the process until we landed on our preferred composition.

Prompt: illustration, forest cityscape, dark teal

AI generated composition for ESG website
Revision of previous composition
Revision of previous Ai generated composition

Step 3: Create the bespoke illustration

While it’s easy to get swept up and awestruck by how quickly an AI can generate artwork, and want to use it straight away: don’t. Always get the graphic redrawn by a professional illustrator. Here’s a few reasons why:

• It may not be in your brand colours or style. You don’t want something that stands out like a sore thumb next to the rest of your branding.

• There are often small imperfections in AI-generated art. Like humans, AI doesn’t always get it right first time. Those small errors will stand out, but the professional eye of an illustrator will be able to avoid them.

• Having a vector version of the illustration makes its use more flexible. No resolution worries and amends can easily be made in the future.

• It’s more ethical. There are ongoing questions over copyright when using images directly from AI-generated image sites. Until there are better regulations, it’s best used as an inspiration tool.

Armed with a selection of approved concepts and feedback from the Transform ESG team, I got onto Illustrator. Below is the final illustration from the above AI generated images.

Transform ESG website final graphic

Step 4: Export and use

Once given the thumbs up, the illustrations were added to the site with small tweaks to improve usability on the website.

As a designer and illustrator, I found the AI x human creative journey a positive one. Sometimes, it’s hard to start from scratch and being able to generate initial concepts in minutes streamlined the process. Knowing the rough shape and vibe of the illustration gave the creative process a head start, leaving more time for me to finesse the final pieces. Treating the AI as a partner in experimentation offers us new perspectives and unexpected results that we, on our own, may not have otherwise generated.

Want beautiful illustrations for your website, publication, or anything else? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help. With no imperfections in sight.


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