Using Midjourney for Professional Content Creation
Fiona Passantino, late June 2023
/imagine… an AI application that generates stunning, original art with the same ease as ChatGPT does for copy. Today’s content creators need visuals as much as they need words. Midjourney is one of several text-to-image GAN applications that ignite the debate about creativity in the human domain. Visual communication improves presentations, reports, articles, books, proposals, posts, advertising… just about every form of messaging. A brief guide to Midjourney; what it is, how to get started, and how to prompt like a pro.
Imagine that humans are not the only ones on our planet who can create unique works of digital art in an essentially unlimited array of styles and formats.
If you’ve already started using ChatGPT to generate text, wait until you try Midjourney. This bot allows everyone to be a highly skilled digital artist, empowered to create stunning images to augment any form of communication.
Midjourney is powerful, fast, versatile and surprising. The images are moving, eerie, fresh and unexpected. Using this tool is addictive to the point of intoxicating, terrifying and strange all at the same time.
Within seconds you are creating breathtaking images that no one has ever seen, not made by man, owned by no one, free to use for your own purposes.
What’s Midjourney, and where did it come from?
Midjourney is one of a family of text-to-image AI applications, accessible by browser, that generates unique images based on user-fed prompts, similar to DALL·E and Stable Diffusion. Midjourney was founded by David Holz as a startup, and launched as an open beta in July 2022[i].
The Midjourney V5.1 model was released on May 4, 2023. It became profitable one month after launch, hitting 1.8 million users just one month later[ii]. Already, it’s rocking the visual digital landscape for art creation for both individuals and businesses.
How does it work?
Midjourney works like the other AI image generators by performing an enormous internet data scrape from open, published data sets as it’s training data, panning across the breadth of the web, and then refining it with layers of artistic artefact and stylisation.
What makes Midjourney unique is that image creation takes place in a social messaging community called Discord[iii]. You join this community first, and then access the Beta image bot from the Discord interface[iv].
What do I use it for?
Aside from the sheer entertainment value, Midjourney has significant upsides for any comms team in its ability to create anything from book covers to ad campaigns, logos to icons to children’s book illustrations. It is at home in every visual style imaginable, from manga to Mondrian, graffiti to cave paining, hyperrealism to surrealism.
- Concept development and mock-ups
Communications professionals can instantly game out a full campaign with an array of concept visuals and mockups for tight project deadlines. An idea can be fleshed out and presented with a set of high-resolution assets that bring ideas to life and communicate concepts effectively.
- Detailing out finished artwork
Architects and designers of all sorts – product, industrial, graphic, fashion, interior, footwear – can render finished work that is not only functional and gloriously detailed, but meeting the needs of the people using them by following the guidelines set by the prompter[v]. This allows designers to enjoy maximum efficiency, push the boundaries of the possible and follow their imagination.
- Web and mobile app design
User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers who build our websites, mobile apps and watch screens can play with their limited real estate and explore usability, functionality and aesthetics that are user-friendly, intuitive, and visually appealing. Web designers can build out screens and structures for multiple screens all at the same time to quickly work towards a winning concept.
- A-Z-tested advertising
From banners to billboards, Midjourney produces appealing visuals for nearly any format, weaving in text, barcodes and white space as indicated. You can instantly test dozens of advertising ideas without having to wait – or pay – for creative agencies to render them.
From logos to banners to icons, thumbnails and favicons, Midjourney can deliver a full range of concepts that incorporate typography, thumbnails and stylistic variations to save time and energy in new branding, made for small and large scales.
- Communication design
PowerPoint presentations can now be generated with full-scale communicative artwork that explains and delivers an emotion. Trainers and instructors can develop their own visual learning materials without the help of agencies or studios. Anyone can illustrate a book or produce a series of original memes.
The first step is to log in to Discord and create an account. This is the messaging app and website with channels and rooms and ongoing conversations. After verification, join the Midjourney Beta app, choose a subscription, and set up your profile.
New arrivals to the platform are encouraged to join a “newbie” room. This is a good place to start, since you can follow the prompts of others and see how it’s done, learning the language and watching the variations and themes as they develop. It’s an overwhelming experience at first; confusing, chaotic… as prompts and pictures tumble down a rushing river, making it hard to keep up and stay focused.
Once you’ve watched from the sidelines, it will be time to dive in yourself. Your first act is to enter the command “/imagine” and hit the space bar. This wakes up the bot and opens an input field, a small black box that allows for text.
Describe what you would like to see. Start with the description (“house mountains dusk…”), style, (“noir, dramatic, hyper realistic”) and parameters (aspect ratio and more).
Here’s an example:
/imagine a powerful, highly visible female leader in a 1930’s WPA style with many social media icons around her. Dramatic lighting. –ar 2:1 (see above)
At first, you’ll receive four images based on that prompt in about one minute. At the bottom, you’ll see a row of buttons “V” which is the command for “Variation” of the one you choose, which will spit back four more slight variations on the original. Images run horizontally from left to right.
You can further refine your original prompt, and once you’re happy, hit the “U” button on your favorite to ask the application to “Upscale”. Click on it to expand and download in the resolution you need.
After that, it’s a matter of trial and error, practice and iteration, and learning from a few helpful YouTube videos that are already crowding the internet with tips and tricks.
Prompting like a Pro
A well-crafted prompt follows a structure, keywords and parameters.
TIP 1: Create your own room
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere and flow of the newbie room, it might be time to retreat to your own space. While you don’t get the exposure to other people’s writing, you will save yourself a lot of scrolling up and down to find your outputs.
Create a room with the “+” button and then add the Midjourney bot to your room to start generating.
TIP 2: Structure your prompts
The more specific the commands, the more detailed your description, the better the result. If your prompts are short and vague, you may get something wild and fun but not what you were hoping for. Midjourney only needs one word to work its magic; “llama” will already deliver a visual, and the blanks are filled in by the algorithm.
Consider the following structure:
“Subject” (person, animal, character, location, object)
“Medium” (photo, painting, illustration, sculpture, doodle, tapestry)
“Environment” (indoors, outdoors, in space, underwater, in the desert)
“Lighting” (soft, ambient, dramatic, neon, studio)
“Color” (vibrant, muted, bright, monochromatic, colourful, black and white, sepia)
“Mood” (calm, raucous, energetic, noir, mysterious)
“Composition” (portrait, headshot, closeup, birds-eye view, worm’s-eye view)
TIP 3: Copy the pros
Pick an artist’s style that you want to emulate (“DaVinci”) and add it at the end, followed by the words “style” so the bot knows what to look for: /imagine man looking out at the ocean, standing on a dock, sunset, davinci style.
TIP 4: Image prompting
Not only text, but photos can act as a starting prompt for Midjourney. Insert the URL and then add our text, with commas, to separate the key ideas. Or, upload an image using the “+” button at the bottom of the screen.
The “/blend” prompt allows you to upload 2–5 images and merge them into a new concept, weaving together the ideas and aesthetics of each.
Enter /describe for image generation in reverse. This allows you to upload an image and see the prompts used to describe that image, helping you learn to speak better bot.
TIP 5: Use Parameters
Midjourney has a built-in aesthetic style; we recognize it as photo-illustrated-hyper-real. We
can remove, enhance, bend and adapt this signature style as well as define format, quality, variation and more using parameters.
A few useful parameters:
–ar defines the aspect ratio of an image: 1:1 would be square, 16:9 would be a standard PowerPoint horizontal and 1:2 would be vertical.
–chaos affects how varied the results are, from 1-100. Higher numbers produce more unusual and unexpected images.
–no indicates negative prompting, or items you don’t wish to see. For instance, “–no plants” would work to remove plants from the image.
–quality defines the rendering quality and time you spend waiting. The default value is 1 and runs backwards to .25, .5, or upwards to 2.
–s defines how much of the trademark Midjourney aesthetic style is applied. A “low” style would be 50, “high” would be 1000.
–raw will completely remove the default Midjourney aesthetic style.
–style can be used to focus attention on tone and mood: “cute”, “scenic”, “expressive”.
–tile generates repeating tiles for seamless patterns; this is great for fabrics, wallpapers and texture design.
TIP 6: Let the bot /imagine
For inspiration, try simply entering one word that you would like to explore to illustrate a point; particularly one describing an intensely human emotion: Hope. Loss. Kindness. Success. Trust.
Or, a concept: Learning curve. Time management. Redundancy. Relevance
And see what the bot comes up with. The results are often surprising and delightful, and the question of whether humans are the sole sources of creativity is very much up for debate.
Using Midjourney well requires practice and intention. You might find yourself able to get exactly what you want in a single prompt for one visual, and for another, still not be satisfied after re-prompting a dozen or more times. Having a balance of managed expectations, understanding of the vocabulary and language you need to use, your own powers of description, creativity and planning, you’re well on your way to become an AI-Powered Visual Communicator for both your professional and personal life.
Want to learn more? Join the webinar.
AI-Integration for Communication Professionals: July 5 @ 20:00
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About Fiona Passantino
Fiona is a Culture, Engagement and Communications expert, helping teams and leaders engage, inspire and connect their teams through her company Executive Storylines. She is a speaker, facilitator, trainer, executive coach, podcaster blogger, YouTuber and the author of the Comic Books for Executives series. She also has a weekly radio show on Den Haag 92 FM on the Future of Work.
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[i] Midjourney website. Accessed June 19, 2023. https://www.midjourney.com/home/?callbackUrl=%2Fapp%2F
[ii] Salkowitz (2023) “Midjourney Founder David Holz on The Impact of AI on Art, Imagination and The Creative Economy”. Forbes Business. Accessed May 22, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2022/09/16/Midjourney-founder-david-holz-on-the-impact-of-ai-on-art-imagination-and-the-creative-economy/?sh=7793260b2d2b
[iii] Newblom (2023) “How SMBs Can Use Midjourney to Power Their Business Learn how your small business can use Midjourney to speed up processes. And how a prompt engineer can create stunning visuals that fit your brand” Fiverr. Accessed May 22, 2023. https://www.fiverr.com/resources/guides/graphic-design/Midjourney-use-cases
[iv] McCue (2023) “Improve Your Midjourney AI Image Creation With These Advanced Tips”. Forbes Business. Accessed May 22, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2023/01/24/improve-your-Midjourney-ai-image-creation-with-these-advanced-tips/?sh=748ce79b2857
[v] Murphy (2023) “Generative AI Meets Architecture: Using Midjourney to Generate Innovative Ideas”. Makit. Accessed May 22, 2023. https://www.maket.ai/post/generative-ai-meets-architecture-using-Midjourney-to-generate-innovative-ideas#:~:text=Midjourney%20uses%20its%20generative%20design,t%20like%20about%20the%20design.