For my game Midsummer’s Eve, I used the AI art generator Midjourney to create the graphics. The art turned out beautifully, and it fit the game well, giving it a magical, whimsical atmosphere that would have been difficult to convey with my (quite average) writing skills.
But don’t be fooled: making the art this way was not a simple task. It took time, patience, flexibility, and a decent amount of editing to get what I needed. I generated more than 1,000 images to get the 22 that I used in my game!
Pros and cons of Midjourney
- It’s fast. You can generate multiple images simultaneously, in under 30 seconds.
- The art is high quality and beautiful. I consider myself a decent artist, but Midjourney creates art far beyond my own capabilities. You can see in the examples above that they have great compositions, depth, color palettes, and details.
- Lighting and reflections. Midjourney gets the lighting and shadows correct and adds accurate reflections to water, glass, etc.
- Creativity and inspiration. Midjourney comes up with interesting, creative, sometimes whimsical images that can get you out of your “artist’s block” or give you a good idea of how to start a painting / graphic.
- You can’t always get what you want. Try as you might, there are some things that your prompts cannot do. You might have a hard time getting the correct subject matter in your image, but you’ll have a harder time getting a consistent art style between your images.
- Weird details and objects. You’ll nearly always have something in your image that is “not quite right” that you’ll have to edit out later. For example, what’s with the small fences and paths going nowhere in the images above?
- Controversy. The biggest con is that many people are put off by, or even actively against, the use of AI art generators. Here’s one article about why.
Why did this work for me?
AI art can be finnicky and doesn’t always give you what you ask for, so how was I able to get what I wanted for my game?
- I was able to find a style of artwork that stayed relatively consistent when I would change the details of the prompts I was using. You could do this if you were very specific with the style in your prompting or if you used the style of a specific artist, but I didn’t take either of those approaches (at least, not effectively) and got lucky.
- I generated the art before I even knew what my game was about. This allowed me to just go with whatever ended up looking the best and fit together well, as if it were made by an individual artist.
- I edited the images to fix and add to them. I removed strange artifacts and things that didn’t make sense for each graphic, as well as combined some pieces to form new graphics.
1 - How I found a style and stayed consistent
My initial thought when I started generating artwork for my game was, “I really love Monkey Island. Maybe I should make something like Monkey Island.” So that’s what I started with for my first prompt. However, the different images I was generating were inspiring me and pulling me in a different direction. Here is an overview of the process. (Keep in mind that this overview leaves out a lot of images that I generated and didn’t use.)
img02.png boat house pixel art in the style of monkey island lucasarts
img02.png is where, in the prompt, I included the URL for image 02. This tells Midjourney that you want the new image to be similar to the linked image.
This was the first image that I was really satisfied with! I linked to this image in most of the successive prompts to try to keep the style.
2 - How I got the images I was looking for... kind of
As I was generating these images, ideas for the setting and plot of my game were forming. I started playing around with certain ideas to see if I could get a good graphic to go with the idea. For example…
This was relatively straightforward – a bridge is an obvious location to have if your town is going to include a lot of water, and it wasn’t hard to generate a decent-looking bridge.
I quickly determined that Midjourney doesn’t know what a “meadow” is, but when I prompted “magical enchanted meadow,” I got some cool giant mushrooms instead. This was veering away from the game I had started building in my head (a boy living in a swamp town who ventures into the swamp in search of something) into more fantastical / whimsical territory, so at first I dismissed the mushrooms, but I decided to use them once I started piecing all of my images into a map.