How To Get Started with Midjourney AI Art

December 1, 2023

Tory Barber

Cyborg generated in Midjourney

What is Midjourney?

Midjourney is an AI image generator. Arguably the best one on the market right now!

How it works: you enter text into Midjourney, and then Midjourney’s powerful AI creates an image to match that prompt.

Now let’s be clear, this isn’t just a glorified Google Images. Midjourney doesn’t just retrieve or even combine existing images as the search engine does. Midjourney’s AI estimates what its user is looking for based on their prompt, and then generates an entirely NEW image.

I don’t know about you, but that gets my mind RACING with the possibilities! Think of how you can add that into your creative process!

Is Midjourney Free?

Unfortunately, no.

In order to use Midjourney, you need to purchase one of their subscriptions.

They have 4 subscription tiers:

  • $10/mth
  • $30/mth
  • $60/mth
  • $120/mth*.

*get a 20% discount if you pay annually.

Basic Plan

$10

/month

  • 3hrs fast time
  • Commercial License
  • 3 concurrent fast jobs
  • *you can only use fast-time*

Best for:

Perfect for the casual user.

Standard Plan

$30

/month

  • 15hrs fast time
  • Unlimited relaxed generations
  • Commercial License
  • 3 concurrent fast jobs

Best for:

Perfect for AI Artists.

Pro Plan

$60

/month

  • 30hrs fast time
  • Unlimited relaxed generations
  • Commercial License
  • 12 concurrent fast jobs

Best for:

Perfect for a creative company.

Mega Plan

$120

/month

  • 60hrs fast time
  • Unlimited relaxed generations
  • Commercial License
  • 12 concurrent fast jobs

Best for:

Perfect for a corporation.

*Midjourney estimates that 3 hours of fast time would allow you to generate roughly 200 images. Unlike the other subscriptions on this list, you can only use fast-time on the basic plan so you would be limited to roughly 200 images.

How to Get Started with Midjourney

While Midjourney is still technically in its Beta phase, they have lifted the waitlist entirely.

This means everyone can sign up and use Midjourney right now!

Simply go to their sign-up page, and press “Accept Invite”.

Midjourney currently operates through Discord, so you’ll need access to a Discord account in order to use the AI. Don’t worry, the accounts are free!

Screenshot of Discord invite to Midjourney

Once you have accepted the beta invite, you’ll be emailed the name of the newbies channel you can use and given 30 free credits so you can get creating right away!

After you use those up (and TRUST me, they’ll go quickly) you will be prompted to purchase a subscription starting at $8 USD/month.

Interested in all their subscriptions? Jump to Midjourney costs.

How to Generate Images in Midjourney

Now it’s the time we were all waiting for!

You have Discord installed, and it’s time to create some art with some robots!

Artist and robot painting together, generated by Midjourney

The Midjourney bot will have sent you a welcome message with the name of the newbie channel you can start using.

I’d recommend using the newbies channel when you first start out (even if you purchased a private chat) so you can see how others are prompting. You can borrow keywords that work in their prompts, or even try to replicate and improve their prompts. It’s a great way to improve your prompting very quickly!

Simply navigate to your newbies channel, then type a forward slash “/” then the word “imagine” in the message bar, and then press enter when the “imagine” command pops up.

Imagine Discord command

It is important that you press enter (or click the popup) to select the command, otherwise, Discord will assume your prompt is part of the command you are searching for. Don’t worry, I did it too like a million times. 😂

If you are unfamiliar with Discord, commands are simple lines of text (starting with a “/“) that allow you to use applications within the chat.

/imagine is the main command you will use in Midjourney: it is how you prompt the AI for images.

Although Discord only shows that you can add a prompt, the imagine command can take three arguments: an image link, the text prompt, and parameters.

Midjourney prompt infographic

For this article, we’ll be sticking with just the text prompt, but check out some of my other Midjourney articles to learn more about the other two arguments.

Now is the time to let your creativity go wild!

Describe the image you’d like Midjourney to make in the prompt area, press enter, and watch the magic happen.

Mind a bit blank on what to prompt for? Looking for some inspiration? Check out my AI Prompt Inspiration Style Guides. I deep dive into a style every month and provide keywords that are proven to work in Midjourney!

Midjourney & Firefly Tested Keywords

Monthly Inspo Right in Your Inbox

Sign-up and get style-specific keywords directly to your inbox every month.

Or you just jump ahead to some prompting tips and tricks.

It will take a couple of minutes for Midjourney’s algorithm to process your prompt, but you can follow along using the percentage progress indicator beside your prompt and watch the diffusion process take place right in front of your eyes.

Midjourney will generate 4 different options based on its interpretation of your prompt. Midjourney numbers the images in the grid as follows so you can easily select one to upscale or generate variations of.

Midjourney Grid numbering

Once your first options are generated, you then have the option to upscale an image, generate variations of an image, or rerun the prompt entirely.

Each of the variation and upscale buttons have numbers that reference the image’s position on the grid. So, for example, U3 will upscale the image in the bottom left corner.

Quick Links

Upsacle

Variations

Rerun

Midjourney Upscale buttons

Upscale Your Image

This will isolate and add more resolution to the image you selected so that you can download it.

variation buttons Midjourney

Generate Variations

This will generate 4 new variations of the image(s) you liked.

Rerun button Midjourney

Rerun

This button reruns the prompt Again so you can see 4 new options.

Once you’ve upscale an image or two that you like, you’ll be presented with a few new options.

Quick Links

Vary (Strong)

Vary (Subtle)

Vary (region)

Upscale (x2, x4)

Zoom Out

Pan

Heart

Web

Midjourney Vary Strong Button

Vary Strong

This is similar to clicking variation in the previous step. It generates 4 new options that are similar to the original but vary in pretty significant ways.

Midjourney Vary Subtle button

Vary Subtle

This is great at fixing small AI mistakes like weird hands, or funny smiles. It keeps most of the photo similar to the original composition, just making small variations.

Midjourney Vary Region button

Vary Region

This is similar to Dall-e’s Outpainting, or Firefly’s Generative Fill. It allows you select a particular area of your photo to edit. This is a much bigger topic than we can get into in this article, but I wrote a whole article diving into Vary Region here if you’re interested in learning more.

Midjourney upscale 4x button

Upscale (x2, x4)

These options allow you to double or quadruple your image‘s resolution. This is really great for when you want to sell images on Stock websites or need to use an image in a print project.

Midjourney Zoom buttons

Zoom Out (x2, x4, custom)

Zoom out adds more context around your subject without changing the resolution or dimensions of your image.

Midjourney Pan buttons

Pan

This option extends your images in the direction you pick. This is extremely useful for extending a photo for copy room.

Midjourney favourites button

Heart

Clicking this adds an image to your favorites so you can find It easier on Midjourney’s website.

Midjourney open in web button

Web

This opens your image in a browser.

You can run your images through a near-infinite amount of variations of these functions until you have an image you are happy with!

Happy generating!!

Get Started Using Parameters

Parameters are an awesome feature that is unique to Midjourney. They are a set of commands you can append to the end of your prompt that each perform a special function.

For the purposes of this article I’ll only be covering the basics to get you started, but if you’re interested in learning more, check out my parameters visual guide!

Midjourney Parameter Visual Guide

A complete tutorial

Read More

Midjourny parameter guide infograpphic

Parameters can be added to the end of your prompt by typing a double dash “–“ then the name and argument (if applicable) of the parameter you’re using. Make sure there is no space between the dashes and the name of the parameter otherwise, your prompt will error out.

Midjourney Parameter infographic

You can add as many parameters as you want to the end of your prompt, just make sure to add a space between each parameter and to start each one out with the dashes. This tells the Midjourney bot that you’d like a specific action carried out.

Now we got the basics out of the way, let’s dive into specific parameters.

Aspect Ratio

–ar <value>:<value>

–aspect <value>:<value>

This parameter allows you to change the aspect ratio of your resulting images. This way you can generate images with different dimensions than the default 1:1.

Not only does this allow you to generate images specifically sized for your project, but it also allows you to generate more interesting compositions. Images with portrait aspect ratios tend to show more of your subject’s body, while landscape images tend to create dynamic asymmetrical shots.

A photo of cyborg –ar 16:9

Midjourney aspect ratio parameter
Midjourney generated photo of a cyborg with aspect ratio parameter

No

–no <value>

“No” allows you to use negative prompting. Meaning, you can use this parameter to list things you DON’T want in your photos. Midjourney generates photos based on associations, and some associations are so strong certain elements are almost always generated in a photo. Take this prompt, it almost always generates wires on its subject, but if I add the no parameter, the wires goes away!

A photo of cyborg –no wires

Midjourney no parameter
Midjourney generated photo of a cyborg with no parameter

Niji

–niji 5   –style <value>

Niji was created as a collaboration between Midjourney and SpellBrush (an illustration platform) that generates fantastic anime images.

In my experience, Niji can be used for near any animation style, not just those specific to anime. I used images generated using Niji as the base style for characters I drew for my agency, Fulton St. Digital.

Niji is special in that it, when used in your prompt, it unlocks additional –style options. The keywords cute, expressive, original, or scenic create images specific to that style. View how it works in my visual guide.

A photo of cyborg –niji 5  –style expressive

Midjourney Niji parameter
Midjourney generated photo of a cyborg with Niji parameter

Style

–style raw

When used on its own, style only has one possible argument: raw.

This strips away Midjourney’s own default style. Midjourney’s AI has developed its own unique style that ensures images follow aesthetic best practices. Usually, you want to use this style, it ensures your images look good!

However, I like turning this style off in places where overly-perfect images are off putting. For an example, I turn it off when I try to generate stock-like photos so that the people in the images have imperfections and come across more realistic.

A photo of cyborg –style raw

Midjourney style parameter
Midjourney generated photo of a cyborg with style parameter
Midjourney Settings

Optimal Settings for Beginners

Midjourney has a couple of functions hidden in Settings that are good to know before you start prompting.

Simply type /settings in the text box in Discord and press enter. This will then display all of Midjourney’s editable settings.

I’ve highlighted all the settings you’ll want to know about when you’re getting started. Use the quick links below to jump a head to each topic.

Quick Links

Remix Mode

Stylization

Variation

Speed

Midjourney Remix Mode

Remix Mode

When turned on, Remix mode allows you to edit your prompt between variations, including vary (region).

Once you’ve opened /settings, simply click the Remix button to turn it on when you’d like to use it. You’ll know it’s when it’s shaded green.

Midjourney Stylize settings

Level of Stylization

By default, Midjourney applies its own sense of style to an image. For the most part, this style usually helps generate beautiful pictures! However, sometimes you might want to want to dial back the amount of styling applied to your image for things like stock-like photos. Or you may want to dial the style way up to generate weirder surrealistic images.

Simply select the level of stylization you’d like to use. Now all images you create will generate with that level of style. You can, of course, adjust your style more specifically with the –stylize parameter, but you’d need to add that to your prompt every time.

variation settings Midjourney

Variation Level

You can also adjust how different each of the options are when you generate variations in Midjourney’s settings. Simply select the level you’d prefer, and then begin prompting again.

Midjourney speed settings button

Speed

If you have any plan other than the Basic Plan, you’ll have access to fast generations and relaxed generations. While you have an unlimited amount of relaxed generations, you’ll have a defined number of fast hours. While you can set what speed you’d like to use on a prompt-by-prompt basis with the –fast and –relaxed parameters, you may not want to declare which you’d like to use every time you prompt.

Prompting Tips & Tricks

The great thing about Midjourney is it’s prompting is only as limited as your imagination and your vocabulary. There are not nearly as many limiting factors as other AI’s such as Firefly, where you can’t even name specific camera brands as it breaks their Terms & Conditions.

It can be hard to know where to even start when you have such vast space to work within so I’ve called out some keyword categories—with example keywords in each—to spark some inspiration for you.

These are by no means all the types of keywords you can use—I don’t even talk about style keywords for goodness sake—but they are a good place to start. If you don’t specify what you are looking for in these areas, Midjourney will use its own creativity to fill in the blanks to various levels of success.

Prompt Inspiration!

Monthly style guides with hundreds of prompts.

ukiyo-e artwork of courtesans generated in Midjourney

Ukiyo-e Prompts

An image of a hollywood generated in Midjourney

Pop Art Prompts

an elfish princess generated by Midjourney

Fantasy Art Prompts

Looking for more style-specific keywords? Check out my AI Prompt Inspo Style Guides where I dive deep into an artistic movement every month and identify keywords that work well within that style in Midjourney.

Quick Links

Subject

Medium

Environment

Lighting

Color

Mood

Composition

Time Period

Emotions

Subject

At the very minimum, it’s important that you describe your subject to Midjourney so that the AI knows what to generate.

Midjourney, like any artist, has some built-in biases, so it is helpful to add descriptive keywords to better flesh out your subject.

Plain

Midjourney generated cyborgs - plain

A photo of a cyborg

Male

Midjourney generated cyborgs - male

A photo of a male cyborg

Diverse

Midjourney generated cyborgs - diverse

A photo of a diverse cyborg

Medium

Unless you specify what medium you’d like your results to mimic, Midjourney will guess for you. Usually, Midjourney defaults to creating photo realistic images, so if you are looking to generate something more artistic, you need to specify the medium.

Even if you want the medium to be photography, I find the images look better when you add photography keywords anyway.

Painting

Midjourney generated cyborgs - painting

A painting of a cyborg

Photo

Midjourney generated cyborgs - photo

A photo of a cyborg

Graffiti

Midjourney generated cyborgs - graffiti

Graffiti art of a cyborg

Watercolor

Midjourney generated cyborgs - watercolor

A watercolor painting of a cyborg

Digital Art

Midjourney generated cyborgs - digital art

Digital art of a cyborg

Vector Art

Midjourney generated cyborgs - vector

Vector Art of a cyborg

Environment

It is helpful to describe the environment around your subject in Midjourney. If you don’t, it is left to Midjourney’s imagination to dream up a background for your image. For the most part, Midjourney tends to generate your subject on a light, 1-2 toned background.

While this is great when trying to generate character design, it’s a bit boring if you’re generating a complete piece of art. Here are some prompt examples of environment ideas.

City Street

Midjourney generated cyborgs - street

A cyborg on a cyberpunk city street

Red Wood Forrest

Midjourney generated cyborgs - forrest

A cyborg in the Redwood Forrest

Space

Midjourney generated cyborgs - space

A cyborg out in space

Server Room

Midjourney generated cyborgs - server

A cyborg in a server room

Home

Midjourney generated cyborgs - home

A cyborg in its home

Internet

Midjourney generated cyborgs - internet

A cyborg in the internet

Lighting

Lighting keywords can completely transform your image, especially when it comes to generating photography. It can change the mood of the image entirely. A photo taken “at sunset” will give the viewer a feeling of aspiration and hopefulness, while a photo taken “on a cloudy day” will change the feeling to something a bit more moody, sad, and dark.

Adding lighting keywords to your prompt can also bring it to another level of professionalism. “Studio” or “cinematic lighting” for an example, indicates to the AI you’d like the image look like it was taken by an expert that would have access to such resources and therefore the AI will generate a better looking photo.

Studio Lighting

Midjourney generated cyborgs - studio

A photo of a cyborg with studio lighting

Cinematic Lighting

Midjourney generated cyborgs - cinematic

A photo of a cyborg with cinematic lighting

Sunset

Midjourney generated cyborgs - sunset

A photo of a cyborg at sunset

Color

Color can make or break an image. It can draw people in, or it can make an image so drab it’s easy to pass it by.

Color is especially important to designers who needs to keep their images on brand or need the colors to tell a specific emotional story.

You can easily prompt Midjourney to generate images with particular pallets! As of right now you can’t add color codes to prompts, but you can use specific color names, emotions, or themes to get your desired results. For an example, I add “purple and blue”, “synthwave”, or “neon” to the end of my prompts for most the images on this site that they stay on brand.

Purple & Blue

Midjourney generated cyborgs - purple

a photo of a cyborg, purple and blue

Synthwave

Midjourney generated cyborgs - synthwave

a photo of a cyborg, synthwave

Neon

Midjourney generated cyborgs - neon

a photo of a cyborg, neon

Mood

Similar to describing the emotions of your subject, it can be helpful to describe the mood of your entire image.

Do you want a “macabre” image for Halloween? Or possibly you want a bright, happy stocky photo for that website you’re designing?

Check out how each of these mood keywords changes the entire environment of an image.

Gloomy

Midjourney generated cyborgs - gloomy

A photo of a cyborg on a gloomy day

Happy

Midjourney generated cyborgs - happy

A photo of a cyborg on an bright, happy day

Macabre

Midjourney generated cyborgs - macabre

A photo of a cyborg on a macabre evening

Composition

Any artist or designer knows that composition can transform your artwork. Composing your image in a non-symmetrical way can make the photo more interesting, and it can encourage someone’s eye to travel across the page, searching for more details.

Pro Hint: Changing the image’s aspect ratio using the –ar parameter can also help to make interesting compositions. For example, prompts with –ar 16:9 tend to generate more asymmetrical images, while prompts with –ar 4:3 create more triangular compositions.

Asymmetrical

Midjourney generated cyborgs - asymmetrical

An Asymmetrical photo of a cyborg

Symmetrical

Midjourney generated cyborgs - symmetrical

A symmetrical photo of a cyborg

Movement

Midjourney generated cyborgs - movement

A photo of a cyborg with movement

Time period

Time periods are such great keywords because they are just jam packed with information! AI’s are able to interpolate so many different concepts that were common for the time to create such interesting images.

1400’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1400s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1400s

1600’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1600s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1600s

1920’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1920s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1920s

1950’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1950s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1950s

1960’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1960s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1960s

1980’s

Midjourney generated cyborgs - 1980s

a painting of a cyborg from the 1980s

Emotions

While mood keywords can change the feeling of an entire image, adding emotional keywords to your prompt does a great job of changing the subject of your photo.

Check out how the subject of my photos transforms from the original based on the emotional keywords I add:

Sad

Midjourney generated cyborgs - sad

A photo of a sad cyborg

Thinking

Midjourney generated cyborgs - thinking

A photo of a cyborg thinking

Daydreaming

Midjourney generated cyborgs - dream

A photo of a day dreaming cyborg

Tory Barber Headshot Thumbnail

About Me

Hi I’m Tory!I’m a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and AI OBSESSED artist from good ol’ Canada, eh!I record all the things I learn as I dive deeper into the Generative AI rabbit hole so I can teach people like you!

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