Artificial Intelligence is already everywhere. Most of the talk is about ChatGPT, the large language model that does everything from giving you the perfect recipe for Pasta Frittata to transforming lyrics to a song into a convincing version of something Shakespeare might have written.
You may not know, however, that AI is making stunning advances in visual manipulation. I won’t call it “Art” but if I were a visual artist, I’d be figuring out how I could make the best use of it as an extraordinarily advanced design tool. Right now, over two dozen AI visual generators exist with names like Jasper Art, DALL-E, Deep AI, and Stable Diffusion.
The platform I’ve recently invested some time and treasure into is called MidJourney, which lives on my Discord server. It is remarkable computer manipulation of ones and zeros that creates stunning images based on writing very specific prompts.
Putting AI to practical use
I recently used the MidJourney AI image generator to create about a dozen images for a website I built for a client–a talented and prolific composer and jazz pianist named Michael Jefry Stevens. MidJourney helped me create the images for the various music categories throughout Michael’s website.
MidJourney allowed me to dial in exactly the subject matter I wanted and then style it precisely to an artist whose artistic style I thought Michael would like. Artists have begun to protest the fact that these AI image generators are basically scraping the internet and mashing it up for ultra-cool results. It can convincingly imitate hundreds if not thousands of artists.
Putting that aside, I next asked myself, “How can I use AI to enhance the appearance on my website of my book cover for Alto Trombone Savvy?” Perhaps dramatic lighting, some depth of field, and more vibrant colors would enhance the vibe of the book.
So I got to work writing a prompt for MidJourney that I thought would accomplish all of that. A “prompt” is a combination of very specific descriptive text and some code. I was very careful to restrict my prompts to maintaining the original look of the book but tweaking the feel of the cover as is.
Keep in mind that this is the new cover for the revised version of Alto Trombone Savvy. I really like the cover and have no desire to change it.
So I wrote a fairly simple prompt for MidJourney’s graphic brain and was shocked by the image it returned. Somehow, the AI interpreted a sterling silver Adams alto trombone sitting on a bed of music manuscript as this:
The inherent sexuality of the alto Trombone
I am a huge advocate of the alto trombone, but even in my wildest dreams, I don’t ever fantasize about the instrument being anything related to sexuality! But who am I to doubt the superior intelligence of the MidJourney AI?!
Now, MidJourney is well-known for having challenges with text, so the gibberish at the top of the image can be ignored. That’s the AI trying to read the cover’s text.
The other problem, and it pains me to admit this, is that MidJourney, like other AI visual generators, has no real idea what a trombone looks like. Its attempts always end up looking like a trumpet with a big bell and really long tubing. Yes, tragic. So the image is littered with those brass-like mutants. Maybe they are the brass instruments of the future?
Now, about the woman.
I’ve seen some online chatter speculating that MidJourney defaults toward images of beautiful women. But if MidJourney can conjure up an image of this woman from the original cover of Alto Trombone Savvy, then I think the case has been made that there is a bit of a bias!
Then I wondered what the cover of the book would look like if this image was used but with proper text and actual alto trombones. So I broke out Photoshop and came up with this:
For those of you who might be offended by this, don’t worry, I am sticking with the original cover. Well, I guess if you really want a collector’s edition…
This is all in good fun, but to see AI image generation working really well for a practical application, check out the music shop pages on MichaelJefryStevens.com. Start with the top visual menu to select music types. Maybe even buy some new music while you’re there! (I hear it’s on sale for the moment.)