If you’ve ever searched Google high and low to find an image you needed to no avail, AI may be able to help.
With AI image generators, you can type in a prompt as detailed or vague as you’d like to fit an array of purposes and have the image you were thinking of pop up on your screen instantly. These tools can help with branding, social media content creation, vision boards, invitations, flyers, greeting cards, and more.
Also: How to write better ChatGPT prompts in 5 steps
Even if you have no professional use for AI at the moment, don’t worry — the process is so fun that anyone can (and should) try it out.
OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 made a huge splash because of its advanced capabilities and because it was the first mainstream AI image generator. However, since its initial launch, there have been many developments in the space. Plenty of companies have released their own models that rival DALLE-2, and OpenAI even released a more advanced model, DALL-E 3.
To help you figure out which models are the best for different tasks, I put the generators to the test by putting a version of the same prompt — “Two yorkies sitting on a beach that is covered in snow” — into each image generator. I included screenshots for your viewing pleasure and for you to make your own inferences.
Also: I asked DALL-E 3 to create a portrait of every US state, and it got weird
While I found the best overall AI image generator to be the Image Creator from Microsoft Designer, due to its free-of-charge, high-quality results, other AI image generators perform better for specific needs. For the full round-up of the best AI image generators, keep reading below.
The best AI image generators of 2024
Pros Powered by DALL-E 3 Quick Convenient to access Cons Need a Microsoft account In preview stage
Image Creator from Microsoft Designer features: Powered by: DALL-E 3 | Access via: Copilot, browser, mobile | Output: 4 images per prompt | Price: Free
Image Creator from Microsoft Designer is powered by DALL-E 3, OpenAI’s most advanced image-generating model. As a result, it produces higher quality results than the free version of DALL-E while also remaining free to use. All you need to do to access the image generator is visit the Image Creator website and sign in with a Microsoft account.
The biggest perk about this AI generator is that you can also access it in the same place where you can access Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Copilot (formerly Bing Chat).
In addition to visiting Image Creator on its standalone site, you can ask it to generate images for you in Copilot. To get your image, all you have to do is conversationally ask Copilot to draw you any image you’d like.
Also: How to use Image Creator from Microsoft Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)
This feature is so convenient because you can get all of your image-generating and AI chatting needs met in the same place. This facilitates tasks that could benefit from both image and text generation, such as party planning since you can ask the chatbot to generate themes for your party and then ask it to create images that follow the theme.
Pros Fast Not copyrighted Accurate depictions
DALL-E 2 features: Powered by: DALL-E 2 by OpenAI | Access via: OpenAI website | Output: 4 images per credit | Price: Free if you registered before Apr. 6, $15 minimum if you register after | Credits: Free credit allowance replenishes every month for pre-April 6 users
OpenAI, the AI research company behind ChatGPT, launched DALL-E 2 November 2022, and it quickly became the most popular AI image generator on the market. Although it has been lapped by Image Creator by Designer, it is still a very capable image generator and the blueprint for all the models that followed.
The site is very intuitive and can produce results in seconds. All you have to do is type in whatever prompt you’d like, specifying as much detail as necessary to bring your vision to life, and then DALL-E 2 will generate four images from your prompt.
Also: How to use DALL-E 2 to turn your wildest imaginations into AI-generated art
The credits situation can be a bit tricky because users who registered before April 6, 2023, get to keep the original terms, which included 15 free credits that replenish at the end of every month. Any new users have to buy a minimum of 115 credits for $15, which is a big con of using this AI image generator instead of Image Creator from Designer.
Since there are other free alternatives on the list that work just as well, I would encourage users to only pay for DALLE-2 if they really want to experience the original.
Pros Accepts specific instruction Open-source More entries for customization Cons Paid credits Need to create an account
DreamStudio features: Powered by: SDXL 1.0 by Stability AI | Access via: website | Output: 1 images per 1.8 credits | Price: $1 per 100 credits | Credits: 25 free credits when you open account, by purchase once you run out
Stability AI created the massively popular, open-sourced, text-to-image generator, Stable Diffusion. Users can download it and use it at no cost; however, this typically requires some technical skill.
Also: How to use Stable Diffusion AI to create amazing images
To make the technology readily accessible to everyone (regardless of skill level), Stability AI created DreamStudio, which incorporates Stable Diffusion in a UI that is easy to understand and use.
One of the standouts of the platform is that it includes many different entries for customization including a “negative prompt” where you can delineate the specifics of what you’d like to avoid in the final image. You can also easily change the image ratio which is major since most AI image generators automatically deliver 1:1.
Pros Mobile app Remix your own images Multiple templates Cons One image per prompt Subscription cost for full access
Dream by WOMBO features: Powered by: WOMBO AI’s machine learning algorithm | Access via: Mobile and desktop versions | Output: one image with a free version, four with a paid plan | Price: Free limited access
This app took the first-place spot for the best overall app in Google Play’s 2022 awards and it has five stars on Apple’s App Store with 141.6K ratings. With the app, you can create art and images with the simple input of a quick prompt.
An added plus about this AI art generator is that it allows you to pick different design styles such as realistic, expressionism, comic, abstract, fanatical, ink, and more.
Also: How to use Dream by WOMBO to generate artwork in any style
In addition to the app, it has a free desktop mobile version that is simple to use. If you want to take your use of the app to the next level, you can pay $90 per year or $10 per month.
Pros Free Unlimited access Simple to use Cons Longer wait Inconsistent images
Craiyon features: Powered by: Their own model | Access via: Craiyon website | Output: Six images per prompt | Price: Free, unlimited prompts
Despite originally having the name DALL-E mini, this AI art generator is NOT affiliated with OpenAI or DALL-E 2. Rather, it is an open-source alternative. The name DALL-E 2 mini is somewhat fitting, however, as it does everything that DALL-E 2 does, just with less precise renditions.
Also: How to use Craiyon AI (formerly known as DALL-E mini)
Unlike DALL-E 2, the outputs from Craiyon lack a bit of quality and take just a bit longer to render, approximately a minute. The good thing? Because you have unlimited prompts, you can continue to tweak the prompt until you get exactly what you’re envisioning. The site is also so simple to use, making it perfect for someone wanting to experiment with AI image generators without the extra bells and whistles.
Pros Very high-quality outputs No duds Discord community Cons Monthly cost Confusing to set up
Midjourney features: Powered by: Midjourney; utilizes Discord | Access via: Discord | Output: four images per prompt | Price: Starts at $10/month
I often play around with AI art generators because of how fun and easy creating digital artwork is. Despite all my experiences with different AI generators, nothing could have prepared me for Midjourney — in the best way.
The output of this image was so crystal clear that I had a hard time believing it wasn’t an actual image someone took of the prompt I put in. This software is so good that it has produced award-winning art.
The biggest con is that it is not user-friendly, and honestly confuses me every time. If you also need the extra direction, check out our step-by-step how-to here: How to use Midjourney to generate amazing images and art.
Another problem is that you may not be able to access it for free. When I just tried to render images, I was met with this error message, “Due to extreme demand we can’t provide a free trial right now. Please /subscribe to create images with Midjourney.”
To show you just how good the renditions can be, I included a close-up below from a prior time I tested the generator. At the time the prompt was: a baby Yorkie sitting on a comfy couch in front of the NYC skyline.
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET Pros Commercially safe Contributor compensation program Personalized stock photos Cons Not clear about pricing Not individual-friendly
Generative AI by Getty Images features: Powered by: NVIDIA Picasso | Access via: website | Output: 4 images per prompt | Price: Paid (price undisclosed, have to contact the team)
One of the biggest issues with AI image generators is that they typically train their generators on content from the entirety of the internet, which means that the generators use aspects of creators’ art without compensation. It also puts businesses at risk of copyright infringement.
Generative AI by Getty Images tackles that issue by generating images with content solely from Getty Images’ vast creative library with full indemnification for commercial use. The generated images will have Getty Images’ standard royalty-free license, assuring customers that their content is fair to use without fearing legal repercussions.
Another pro is that contributors whose content was used to train the models will be compensated for their inclusion in the training set. This is a great solution for businesses who want stock photos that match their creative vision but do not want to deal with copyright-related issues.
ZDNET’s Tiernan Ray went hands-on with the AI image generator. Although it did not generate the most vivid images, especially compared to DALL-E, it was successful in creating accurate, reliable, and useable stock images.
Image Creator from Microsoft Designer is the best overall AI image generator due to it being powered by OpenAI’s latest DALL-E technology. Like DALL-E 2, Image Creator from Microsoft Designer combines accuracy, speed, and cost-effectiveness and can generate high-quality images in just a matter of seconds. Because it is powered by a more advanced model, in most instances, the images are higher quality than DALL-E 2’s.
Whether you want to generate images of animals, objects, or even abstract concepts, Image Creator from Microsoft Designer is capable of producing accurate depictions that meet your expectations. It is highly efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective.
AI image generator
Image Creator from Microsoft Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)
Mobile and desktop
Powered by DALL-E 3, accessible via Copilot, app, and browser, quick and easy to use
DALL-E 2 by OpenAI
Free + Credits (depends on sign up date)
Accurate depictions, detailed input, generate four images per credit
DreamStudio by Stability AI
Free + Credits
Renditions that are easily and fully customizable and great quality
Dream by WOMBO
Free + Subscription
Mobile and Desktop
Realistic renditions, multiple templates, remix your own images
Unlimited prompts, straightforward interface
Starts at $10/month
Highest quality photos, Discord community, creates art for a variety of uses
Generative AI by Getty Images
Cost determined by chatting with the sales team
Commercial safe renditions, personalizable stock images, contributor compensation
Note: Prices and features are subject to change.
Although I crowned Image Creator from Microsoft Designer the best AI image generator overall, other AI image generators perform better for specific needs. For example, suppose you are a professional using AI image generation for your business. In that case, you may need a tool like Generative AI by Getty Images which renders images safe for commercial use.
On the other hand, if you just want to play with AI art generating for entertainment purposes, Craiyon might be the best option because it’s free, unlimited, and easy to use.
Choose this AI image generator…
If you want…
Image Creator from Microsoft Designer
The best AI art generator overall. In Copilot, you can get all of your art-generating needs met while chatting with the bot and getting all of your questions answered. The art generator is reliable, quick, and accessible.
The original best AI art generator that combines accuracy, speed, and cost-effectiveness. It allows users to generate high-quality images quickly and easily, making it an ideal tool for artists, designers, and anyone looking to create unique and original content.
DreamStudio by Stability AI
The best customizable AI art generator that includes tools in its UI that make it easy to get the exact rendition you want. The fields include size, style, negative prompts, image prompts, and more.
Dream by WOMBO
The best AI art generator for your phone with multiple templates, realistic renditions, and a mobile app. It also has a free limited access version, making it a great option for those who don’t want to spend too much money.
The best completely free AI art generator with unlimited prompts and a straightforward interface.
The best AI art generator for high-quality renderings and crystal clear images with a Discord community, allowing you to share and view other users’ outputs.
Generative AI by Getty Images
The best AI art generator for business applications. It generates images with content from Getty Image’s vast creative library, making the images rendered commercially safe.
To find the best AI image generators, I tested each generator listed and compared their performance. The factors that went into testing performance included UI/UX, image results, cost, speed, and availability. Each AI image generator had different strengths and weaknesses, making each one the ideal fit for different individuals as listed next to my picks.
An AI image generator refers to software that uses AI to create images from user text inputs, usually within seconds. The images vary in style depending on the capabilities of the software but can typically render an image in any style you want including 3D, 2D, cinematic, modern, Renaissance, and more.
Like any other AI model, AI image generators work on learned data they are trained with. Typically, these models are trained on billions of images, which it analyzes for characteristics. These insights are then used by the model to create new images.
AI image generators are trained on billions of images found throughout the internet. These images are often artwork that belongs to a specific artist, which is then reimagined and repurposed by AI art to generate your image. Although it’s not the same image, the new image has elements of artists’ original work which is not credited to them.
Contrary to what you might think, there are so many AI art generators other than DALL-E 2 out there. Some produce even better results than OpenAI’s software. If you want to try something different, check out one of our alternatives listed above or the three additional options below.
Best multi-purpose alternative
Nightcafe is a multi-purpose AI art generator that is worth trying becaus it allows users to create unique and original artwork by using different inputs and styles, including abstract, impressionism, expressionism, and more.
View at Creator.nightcafe
Best alternative for marketing professionals
Canva is a versatile and powerful AI art generator that offers a wide range of options. It allows users to create professional-looking designs for different marketing channels, including social media posts, ads, flyers, brochures, and more within its design platform.