Disclaimer: My self-imposed guidelines state that I’m allowed one completely unhinged post a year, and this is it. Happy holidays, everyone.
AI is freaky good. If you haven’t heard of it by now, DALL-E is an AI image generator, and it can make basically anything you can dream up — seriously. You type in a prompt and seconds later, you have a selection of original images that attempt to visualize it. DALL-E has been circling the social media scene for a while now, but has just recently opened up its beta for the general public to try.
Because I love fiddling with new tech, I decided to merge my two interests and here you are: A series of YA-series inspired prompts chosen by me and the resulting DALL-E AI generated fan art images. A lot actually look like fan art (though the fact that DALL-E clearly doesn’t get words results in some . . . frightening images?) and some kinda like real people. It does understand the phrase “love triangle,” though.
I was slightly chastened by the genius prompts (that come up while generating my comparatively subpar inputs) that are meant to show you how to actually use the software. Stuff like “3D rendition of an American football player in the style of Van Gogh”. Yeah, no. Y’all opened this thing up to the internet. Obviously I’m going to use it for creating AI generated fan art for YA books.
The Hunger Games AI Generated Fan Art
I started off pretty basic.
Prompt: “the hunger games renaissance style painting”
. . . and was not disappointed. The detail in this is phenomenal? Do you see Effie in that first one? Oh my god.
So I tried it again.
Prompt: “the hunger games renaissance painting”
A little less successful this time around, so I went for a single character instead.
Prompt: “katniss everdeen renaissance painting”
The fourth one is the most accurate in my opinion.
And just for fun:
Prompt: “the hunger games in lego bricks”
Dunno what “Jingggey” is, but what a promo image.
Shatter Me and Aaron Warner AI Generated Fan Art
Because everyone is obsessed with the Shatter Me series and in particular, Aaron Warner, I decided to give the people what they wanted: Shatter Me AI generated fan art. DALL-E, on the other hand, resisted somewhat.
Prompt: “real life image of aaron warner from the shatter me series”
Result: This was the first one I did, and considering some of the later results, it did a decent job. A lil pop-punky but got the general idea, except for the dark-haired guy in the second one. (Who looks a bit like Adam Scott?)
Next I decided to give DALL-E a bit more description, which I retrieved from the handy-dandy Shatter Me fandom page on Aaron Warner.
Warner is first described by Juliette as beautiful, perfect, and flawless. He is 19 years of age in the first 4 shatter me books, turning 20 at the end of defy me, he has blond hair and green eyes usually described as pale emerald. He has a defined and strong jaw, and dimples when he smiles. He is tall, slender, and toned, but also manly, has clear skin, but not pale, just with a slight tan enough to look healthy. His height is 5’9” and he weighs 170 pounds, which is revealed in Destroy Me. He is said to have a vigorous diet consisting of six small meals a day and two hours of training. He has a firm stance and always looking to perform flawlessly.
(Punctuation is for cowards.)
Prompt: “tall slender and toned 19 year old boy with blond hair, pale emerald eyes, a chiseled jawline and dimples dressed well”
Result: Here’s where we started getting into some uncanny valley stuff.
And it’s also where Dall-E totally called me out — rightfully so. I didn’t specify race, just expecting white to be the default, when obviously it isn’t. Dall-E: 1, Grace: 0.
So we modified it.
Prompt: “tall slender and toned white 19 year old boy with blond hair, pale emerald eyes, a chiseled jawline and dimples dressed well”
These all look like uncomfortable year book photos. First pic has head-pasted-on-body vibes. Second looks like maybe he’s interning for the summer at daddy’s law firm. Third sorta works? In a weird, Ken-doll way but by far the closest we’ve gotten. Fourth is just a nah.
I felt a little bad adding the caveat “good-looking” but you gotta ask the robot for what you want.
Prompt: “tall, slender, toned, and good-looking white 19 year old boy with blond hair, pale emerald eyes, clear skin, a chiseled jawline and dimples dressed well”
(I take it back — I am a coward who requires at least some punctuation.)
Uh, closer, I guess? Let’s try giving him something that is particularly “Warner”.
Prompt: “tall, slender, toned, and good-looking white 19 year old boy with blond hair, pale emerald eyes, clear skin, a chiseled jawline and dimples
dressed well in military uniform”
Better–I think. (Not the first one though, and also we gotta get rid of those smiles.) Maybe we should just leave it there.
Prompt: “the shatter me series characters”
At first glance (and ignoring the scary, scary writing), it looks like a normal DeviantArt page. But then you look closer:
The eye on the bottom right character. I can’t breathe.
Also, if someone comes out with a book titled Shimpler Tihter: Sler Walter Shinor, I’m gonna sue. It’s mine.
Prompt: “juliette and aaron warner and adam kent love triangle”
Result: Pretty sure the guys in the third photo are Dan Levy from Schitt’s Creek and Liam Hemsworth. (But scary.) Second and fourth basically different heads pasted onto Twilight posters. But you can’t deny it — Dall-E gets what a love triangle is. And now I’m totally invested in Juliette’s difficult decision between Jubero and Jareer.
And just out of curiosity, I tried another fiction trope just to see.
Prompt: “enemies to lover trope”
Shadow & Bone and Kaz Brekker AI Generated Fan Art
Next I went for a more distinctive character, and you know, this one was the most successful of them all.
Following my previous attempts at Warner, this time I went straight to canon and used an actual description of Kaz Brekker from the books:
His coat clung to him in perfectly tailored lines. He stood leaning on his cane, hair neatly pushed back from his pale brow, a black glass boy of deadly edges.
Prompt: “His coat clung to him in perfectly tailored lines. He stood leaning on his cane, hair neatly pushed back from his pale brow, a black glass boy of deadly edges.”
I was a bit worried about “black glass boy” being too poetic for Dall-E, but it made the reasonable assumption I wanted “black glasses”. Honestly, I’m okay with it.
Next, I tried with those words taken out, just to see if that fixed it.
Prompt: “His coat clung to him in perfectly tailored lines. He stood leaning on his cane, hair neatly pushed back from his pale brow, a
black glass boy of deadly edges.”
For the next go, I added a more detailed description with further context taken from the books.
Prompt: “A boy with dark hair neatly pushed back from his pale brow and cut short on the sides. He is all deadly edges and his eyes are the colour of strong tea in the sunlight. He wears gloves and a coat that clings to him in perfectly tailored lines. He uses a cane that doubles as a weapon.”
Result: Somehow this was worse? Maybe too much info.
Shadowhunters AI Generated Fan Art
Let’s try things DALL-E’s way. This time, I went for the Shadowhunter series.
Prompt: “jace wayland realistic 3d render”
Result: I mean I think the second one might be Yugi from Yo-Gi-Oh, but it got the overall blond-boy-from-the-2000s vibe? Maybe I erred with the phrasing “3d render”.
Next I went for just Shadowhunters in general. It was . . . interesting. Also, DALL-E absolutely refuses to give me any kind of demons. Dunno what that’s about.
Prompt: “teenagers with black marks on their skin fighting demons”
Yeah “black marks” wasn’t great. Also, it seems to have taken “demons” in a more metaphorical sense. Very tumblr. Let’s see if adding “literal” helps.
Prompt: “teenagers with black marks on their skin fighting literal demons”
This didn’t help one bit. Still not one demon. Also I think DALL-E reverted to Microsoft Paint in a couple of these.
I stopped focusing on the demons and tried to get the runes right next.
Prompt: “teenagers with black tattoos on their arms fighting literal demons”
Better, and probably not going to get any more accurate. I revisited the demon thing, trying out the word “monster” instead.
Prompt: “teenagers with black tattoos on their arms fighting realistic monsters”
Uh, nope. What if we try more specific? A dragon, maybe?
Prompt: “teenagers with black tattoos on their arms in battle with a dragon”
American Dragon: Jace Wayland.
Prompt: “teenagers with black runes on their arms in battle with a dragon”
More of the same?
I then realized my language could be a little clearer. I thought that maybe DALL-E thought the dragons were supposed to be fighting with the subjects.
Prompt: “teenagers with black runes on their arms battling a dragon”
I think this is as close as we’re gonna get for today.
AI generated YA Book Covers
For the last go, I thought I’d try to recreate a couple of covers just to see what would happen. It technically gave me what I asked for, but Dall-E doesn’t have a great sense of how to make those images stylish.
I misspelled the first prompt, but it didn’t seem to matter.
Prompt: “jace ayland shirtless torso with the words “city of bones across the bottom on a greenish yellow background”
Oof. Doesn’t do words even if I straight up give them. Just to see, I tried a second time with the correct spelling even though I didn’t think it knew who Jace Wayland was anyways.
Prompt: “jace wayland shirtless torso with the words “city of bones” across the bottom on a greenish yellow background.
Huh. Let’s try a different book — the original cover of Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
Prompt: “book cover with curving antler silhouettes framing a russian inspired building with a gray background using only black white and red”
I tried it twice, once without the “book cover” specification.
Ya know, it’s technically not wrong. It nailed it, in a literal sense. Wouldn’t replace the original though.
Now I tried to see if DALL-E understood the trend of what YA books look like.
Prompt: “make up the cover of a popular young adult books”
Yeah, I did English wrong again. But HA, I think DALL-E nailed this. Obviously, every YA book needs a good set of staring eyes on it.
Now I tried to be slightly more commercial about it.
Prompt: “design the cover for a bestselling young adult fantasy book”
This actually is concerning, because it kinda worked? Like yeah, the titles are bad (and gibberish) and they could definitely be cleaner, but at first glance these covers could definitely be on a shelf.
Thoughts on AI Generated Fan Art
After generating a billion images varying in quality, I have some thoughts on how to improve if I were to do it again. First of all, I need to be more creative and specific. I guess half the fun was seeing how it interpreted the names of books and characters, though I suppose it varies on the content it can find on the internet and therefore, the popularity of the book. Some book names, like Twilight, were just too confusing for it because of their generic nature. I think we could get there if I tried harder, but I don’t want to. So there.
While fascinating, I think I prefer the art of real fans and book cover designers, don’t you?
Love in this crazy holiday season,