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What is AI art? Everything you need to know & how to use it

If you’ve been on the internet for the last couple of weeks you probably have heard of AI-generated art. So, what is it exactly? And is it a threat to actual artists?

AI art, which stands for artificial intelligence art, is art that has been generated by a computer and not a person. A person has to give a generator a prompt to generate the artwork, but the computer does the actual concept, composition, and creation of it.

All this answer does is raise more questions. How does this AI art even work? Can people profit from AI art? Is it even ethical?

Keep reading to find all of this out!

What is AI art?

By using artificial intelligence, a generator (an online tool that generates an image) is able to create an artistic image based on a prompt that you give it, resulting in art generated by a computer.

Artificial intelligence is something designed by humans to give computers a brain of their own. Computers that have AI mimic the thinking behavior of actual people.

Just like humans, artificial intelligence gains its intelligence through experience. This means that if the AI has done things repeatedly, or sees a pattern, it learns from it.

AI has been around for quite some time. Ever played a game of Tic Tac Toe against a bot? That’s artificial intelligence!

AI can be used for many things: cars, search engines, (video) games, smart homes… you name it. And now it can create art.

ai art example
An example of AI-generated art

How does AI art work?

AI artwork is created by giving an AI art generator a prompt. The generator may also have an option to choose from different kinds of art styles. Some also have the option to upload an image which the generator can use to create a new image.

There are different kinds of AI art generators out there, which all have different AI models.

The AI generator Craiyon, learns by looking at images and their captions on the web. Repeatedly doing so the AI gains experience and can then over time associate prompts, that are given by you, with a matching image.

But the AI is even smarter than that alone.

The AI can also create unique images by combining concepts together.

So basically the AI art generator can create an image based on the text (or prompt) you give it and it can combine multiple images that are associated with the text and create a unique composition.

It’s still learning every day.

AI art generator

There are a bunch of AI art generators out there, some of which require you to create an account. I’ve tested 3 popular AI art generators that don’t require you to create an account before generating AI art.

The following AI art generators allow you to create AI art from text:

  • Craiyon
  • Dream AI
  • Nightcafe

Here is an overview of the specifications of each AI art generator:

Is it free to use?Yes (premium access available)Yes (premium access available)Yes, up to 5 free images per day (premium access available)
Amount of images you can generate LimitlessLimitless5 per day for free (you can buy more credits to create more images)
How many images does it generate?9 images1 image1 image
Can you pick an art style?NoYesYes
Text input limitNoup to 200 charactersNo
Can you work off an image you upload?NoYesYes
Can you customize after creating an image?Noyesyes
Can you auto-publish as an NFTNoyesNo
Can you download the image?No, you can only take a screenshotyesyes
Image resolutionLowMid to HighHigh (you can buy credits to increase the resolution)
Image generation speedSlow*Moderately fastFast
Does it have android/iOs app?Android onlyAndroid & iOsAndroid & iOs
Can you sell the image?Yes**Yes**Yes**
AI art generator comparisson

*Craiyon generates not 1 but 9 images which probably contributes to the slow image generation speed
**Each Ai art generator has different terms and conditions when it comes to selling the generated artwork. Read their policies on their website to ensure you can sell them to avoid legal repercussions.


You can find the Craiyon AI art generator on Craiyon uses the AI model DALL-E mini to create its artwork. This art generator is free to use and has no creation limits. Relative to other AI generators Craiyon seems to be less extensive as other AI art generators and creates lower-resolution pictures.

The generating can take up to two minutes but it generates 9 images instead of a single one like other generators.

craiyon AI

Wombo Dream AI

Wombo’s Dream AI art generator allows you to enter prompts up to 200 characters, including spaces. It also allows you to select an art style. After generating art you can then choose to publish it, create an NFT and print the generated image on canvas.

Compared to Craiyon the image generates fast. It also has a feature to upload an existing image to work off of and create new artwork. You can generate a limitless amount of imagery.

Wombo Dream AI

Here I’ve uploaded a sketch of mine and added the prompt ”flower crown” and choose a realistic art style. The top image is my original sketch, the bottom image is what Dream AI came up with.

Dream AI example

Good Lord.


The Nightcafe AI art generator also allows you to choose a specific art style and lets you use a prompt. Unlike the other art generators, Nightcafe limits your creations to 5 artworks per day. You can then buy extra credits to create more work and increase the resolution. You might want to do this when you sell your work.

Nightcafe is the one that seems the most advanced when it comes to editing and customizing your AI-generated work. It also allows you to mask certain parts of your existing image so that part will be left alone.

The only thing I dislike about Nightcafe is the constant push to buy more credits.

Can you sell ai-generated art?

You can sell AI-generated art as they are created by artificial intelligence and not an actual person. This means the generated artwork belongs in the public domain. However, some AI art generators use trademarked images to create new artwork, making them unfit to sell.

Always check your art generator’s Q&A or terms and conditions policy. If you are still unsure whether you can or cannot sell AI-generated artwork, contact the creators/website owner.

The following AI art generator are copyright free and thus used for sale:

  • DALL-E (mini) based art generators
    • Like Craiyon

BUT, and it’s a big but, all of the legal stuff regarding AI-generated imagery is a huge gray area.

DALL-E is, according to OpenAI, free to use for commercial reasons which means you can sell the imagery.

However, since the imagery is AI-generated, the AI must have taken images, that were once taken and or created by actual people, and used them to create new imagery.

The newly created imagery may closely resemble existing work which can then cause legal trouble for the seller of AI art.

How to avoid legal issues with AI art

If you want to sell your AI art I’d suggest you use the AI art as a base and work off of it to create something unique. Preferably by using different tools than the AI generator. This way you alter everything enough to call it your own.

Take this with a grain of salt since I’m not in the legal field. It’s best to avoid selling it altogether, because of the ethical aspects which I talk about later in this article.

Once you create your base you can download your image and import it into an art program like Procreate or Photoshop.

A popular artist who uses AI art in combination with multiple editing software is Steve McDonald.

After creating (partial) AI art you can then sell your work through Instagram, Redbubble, or your own website.

Some users sell their work through NFTs but I, like many artists, am wildly against NFT artwork.

You can read why NFTs among artists are controversial right here.

How do you spot AI art?

AI art is easiest to spot when the art style is realistic. AI art generators aren’t quite there yet when it comes to generating realistic art. Generally, realistic AI art is way too saturated and doesn’t always make sense. But when it comes to stylized art, AI art is harder to spot.

It’s harder for AI to generate realism because we see ”realistic” things all day every day. That’s why we can spot fake realism so fast.

AI art especially lacks ”skill” when it comes to faces. The free AI art generators most people use simply cannot create convincing faces.

However, the more advanced AI generators can create convincing faces, but they are typically not the ones we use.

The style of art matters with AI

The image below can totally pass as a digital painting of a woman. But the thing that gives away that the image is AI generated are the eyes. It just doesn’t make sense why they are this off.

ai art portrait
AI portrait

When it comes to stylized art, spotting AI gets harder. This is because when you don’t know the specific style of an image, anything can be attributed to the style of the artist.

However, I noticed that there are certain things that AI art often shows.

Here are 6 characteristics to spot AI art:

  • The image is low quality
  • Realism looks off
  • Faults in faces
  • Blurry transitions
  • Colors are high in saturation
  • The colors aren’t cohesive

One thing that most generators have in common is low quality. Some, like Nightcafe allows you to increase the resolution when you buy extra credit.

But other generators like Craiyon can only generate low-quality art.

Realism in AI art often doesn’t make sense and faces are deformed or have faulty spots. Thin lines like hair or grass are often not defined but blurry, giving away that it’s digitally collaged together.

Another thing that’s characteristic of AI art is that colors are very much saturated which is unusual when it comes to realism.

Examples of AI art

The following images have the prompt ”Flowerfield with mountain background” and the art style is set to realistic. They were made using Dream AI:

AI art example
ai art example

As you can see the colors are very saturated and they don’t match the rest of the environment. Since it’s a realistic style, you’d expect the colors to look realistic as well.

The following image is a portrait. I’ve used the prompt ”Woman with flower crown” and set the art style to comic.

Ai art example

The image above was clearly influenced by van Gogh. The AI decided to do this. Pretty cool!

However, how would we know that this image was AI generated when we come across it on, let’s say, social media?

Well, you just don’t know.

Because the artwork is heavily stylized, any aspect of it could be attributed to its stylization.

Just keep in mind that some people use additional software to edit or enhance AI art and that they may decrease some of the previously mentioned characteristics to spot AI art.

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Is ai art really art?

By most artists, AI art on its own is not considered art. This is mostly because of the lack of skill and effort involved in generating artificial intelligence art. However, once AI art is used as part of the creative process, and then further worked upon, artists are more likely to accept AI art.

Whether AI art is true art is of course purely opinion based.

Personally, I think that AI art, that hasn’t been further altered with additional software, is a form of art in itself. Completely separate from traditional art (including digital).

Some AI art generators like Nightcafe have a lot of customizable options which allow you to be creative. If someone spends hours tweaking their image I consider it art.

But when someone generates an image based on the first prompt they come up with and tries to sell it for hundreds of dollars, I don’t think it’s worth the money.

Art is so much more than just an appealing image. The worth of art lies in inspiration, thought, chosen subject, skill level, materials, and so many more factors.

Artificial intelligence generated art eliminates the need for at least 4 of those factors.

I’m not saying creating an appealing image with AI is wrong. I’m also not saying that it’s not art. All I’m saying is that it should be viewed as a separate form of art.

Is it fair to sell AI art?

As long as people clearly mention the artwork they sell is generated by AI, I think it’s fair to sell AI art. Stating this fact might influence the price customers are willing to pay for the artwork, but this seems only fair.

I don’t think AI can compete against actual artists. Knowing that someone spent hours and hours on a painting makes that painting more expensive, dollarwise, and worth-wise.

What to use AI art for?

As an artist, you can use AI art in your ideation phase. When you are coming up with ideas, you can easily type in prompts in an AI generator. The generated image may evoke another idea. This way you use AI art as a tool to help you find your next subject.

Other ways to use AI art are:

  • Concepts
    • Use an AI generator to quickly generate different concepts of the same idea
  • Reference
    • If you’re in need of unique reference images you can generate exactly what you need
  • Explore alternatives to what already exists
    • If you have an image that you created you can upload it and use it as a base to create alternatives

The best AI art generator

After testing 3 of the most common AI art generators out there I consider the Dream AI art generator the best because it’s free, generates a limitless amount of artwork and it has a couple of customizable options.

Here’s how I rank them:

  1. Dream AI: 4/5
  2. Nightcafe 3.5/5
  3. Craiyon 3/5

I think Nightcafe gives you the best customizable options but I really don’t like the constant push to buy credits. They do give you 5 free images per day which is relatively generous of them. But I did notice that even after 38 hours of not using Nightcafe it still didn’t reset to 5 credits.

Craiyon is fun to experiment with and totally free. I think this one is great for ideation.

Which AI generator is your favorite?

Tips to generate AI art

When you’re telling an AI art generator to generate art you are literally talking to a computer. To communicate correctly, you need to form your words in a way the AI understands you.

Here are some tips to maximize your AI art:

  • Be specific
  • Have a subject do something
    • E.g. Bear eats a flower rather than ”bear and flower”
  • Try phrasing your words differently when it doesn’t work

Keep trying and if it doesn’t work out, take the generated image and edit it further in another software program!

It seems like lately a lot of artists are advocating against the use of AI art, in particular the AI generators that use the Stable Diffusion model.

Is the use of Stable Diffusion in AI art bad?

According to more and more professional artists, the use of AI-generated art that has been generated using Stable Diffusion is bad. The reason being is that this particular AI model learns through sampling the work of artists that never consented to their work being used, according to @megraeart on Instagram.

Here is the post she created explaining things:

The problem is that Stable Diffusion ”learns” from taking existing artwork. This artwork, which was created by hard-working talented artists was never meant to be taken and used.

Some say that the AI actually creates unique art and therefore taking images from other artists is not a completely bad thing, because it doesn’t use it in the final outputted work.

However, not only is the artwork being used to create new images, the style of existing artists is imitated as well.

What do you think?


Playing around with an AI art generator is so much fun. I think it’s a great tool to use in your creative pipeline. And it sure is a fun way to pass time!

Please feel free to share your thoughts on AI art in the comments down below.

Until next time,

♡ Laura

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