Design is one of the voices that your organization uses to communicate. Posts that have accompanying images perform multitudes better than those without in terms of engagement, and your visual style being consistent and striking is key when it comes to strong brand recognition. 

Of course, the work involved in creating a strong visual style is a human job. There are design principles that are taken into consideration with each new asset being created, but as we mentioned in our piece about using AI to write your copy, the best way to relate to human beings is to entrust these jobs to human beings. Full reliance on AI to create art for you is a mistake of the highest caliber, but that doesn’t mean AI isn’t useful…

Let’s Get This Out of the Way

As it stands right now, many of the AI tools used to create visual assets aren’t exactly operating in the most ethical fashion. Only recently, Midjourney–who had initially stated it would be too difficult to properly credit any of the artists their tools were trained on–was caught with a list of over 10,000 artists that they used to train the Midjourney tool. Taking the work of artists without their permission is one thing, but AI art is also catching a lot of flack because it’s pushing these incredibly talented, human artists out of work. In the last month, Wacom used AI art in some of their promotional materials and Hasbro was caught doing the same after laying off 1,100 people in December. Both faced swift public backlash.

Using AI to create assets for your brand isn’t just a bad idea because of how it might end up looking, but because large swaths of the population view the use of AI art as cheap and unethical. It can damage trust in your brand, and no one wants that.

But…

When it comes to minor corrections and adjustments, AI can be a huge help to your design team and can end up saving them a lot of time. 

Extending Photos and Patterns

Say there’s an image that you want to use for your banner, but it’s in the wrong aspect ratio and there’s no room to add the copy you want to add. AI can be used to extend the borders of these images so that they can be used in multiple ways. Suddenly that Instagram photo stretches across the entire top of your landing page. That pattern used only one time sparingly in a social post becomes a full-on wallpaper! This kind of pattern recognition can be extremely useful, and it sure beats creating all new assets from scratch. 

Photo Tweaking

You did a promotional photoshoot for one of your products/services that’s about to launch. You have the shots you want to use–they have amazing lighting and your subjects are exactly where they should be–but something’s a bit… off. 

Maybe someone’s hand is in a strange position, or the plant on the table needs to be a little more subdued so it doesn’t draw focus away from the main subject. There are AI tools that can correct this. 

Adobe’s generative AI tools can be used to highlight problem areas and replace them with something closer to your vision. Don’t like that plant? Highlight it and prompt the AI to make it a small succulent. You can switch an open-palm hand gesture to a peace sign. You can even add glasses to a model’s face to make them look more sophisticated. Remove stains from clothing! Heal the cracks in concrete! There’s so much help that AI can give you to attain that perfect shot. 

PRO TIP: If you’re altering images of people, make sure you double-check the AI output. AI generation tools can still miss when it comes to the number of fingers a person should have, and they can still lose track of the boundaries between flesh and the inanimate. 

Beware the AI “Look”

As long as you’re using these tools to make edits instead of entire assets, you’re going to get decent mileage out of them, but the second you have it make a complete image, you’re going to have visible issues, and your prospects will be able to see them, even if they aren’t themselves design experts.

AI images (especially ones that are attempting to create something “photo-realistic”) are easy to spot. They often look waxy and will have spots of questionable anatomy. If you generate a shot of a crowd, the people that the AI generates further away from the camera are often distorted, haunting nightmare beings. People’s clothes aren’t rendered correctly because the algorithm doesn’t know that you shouldn’t tuck a blazer into your pants. 

The point is that the more you have AI do, the more likely it is to do something wrong. Keep it simple, or you’ll find yourself saving no time at all since you’ll have to check it’s work.

These AI tools are just that. They’re tools that are available for artists to use to achieve specific vision, but they aren’t a viable medium by which to create an entire visual style. If there are specific rules that are implemented to regulate the current predatory practices of AI companies, it might become more acceptable to utilize them more heavily, but until then our recommendation would be to limit their use, especially considering the blowback that other companies are receiving for using completely AI generated assets.

Humans connect with humans. Even though it may be cheaper, you cannot and should not remove the human element entirely from your brand’s communications and visual asset creation. Some things are worth investing in, and there are certain costs that shouldn’t be cut. This is a biggie for us.

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