Technology

5 of the best free AI image generators

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The use of AI image generators is becoming more and more prevalent as workers and creatives alike seek for more inspiration and a streamlined way of generating high-quality content for a multitude of purposes.

From website images to social media feeds, AI-generated images are becoming a mainstream fixture, and as more generators enter the market, it’s also becoming a very cost-effective way for people to assist with their creative tasks, compliment their social media presence and help them boost their businesses’ marketing efforts.

As a result, we’ve taken a look at the five best free AI image generators on the market right now. All of them have different purposes and quirks, but all have free plans that make them accessible to everyone looking to use AI image generation as part of their daily workflow.

To showcase their capability, quality and accuracy, we have created images using the following prompt on all platforms…

A black cat with white paws sitting next to Buckingham Palace in London on a sunny summer’s day. There are people walking by in the background. There is red London double-decker bus and traditional black taxi driving by.

Ideogram

Ideogram

Ideogram is free to use for up to 25 prompts a day, but with that you are limited to the “slow queue” and every image you generate is viewable by all other Ideogram members. It is essentially a social media network for AI image generation, with the homepage acting as a feed of other images generated by the public, which you can ‘love’, similar to Instagram.

A single prompt will generate four different image iterations, and it will also provide a ‘magic’ prompt, which is essentially a more detailed prompt example it gives you for one of its images, that might give you inspiration for the wording of future prompts.

In terms of quality, it’s hugely impressive, although it can often struggle with human faces, especially if there isn’t much detailed information given about looks, etc. But it can accurately generate all types of images, including real-life, 3D, cartoon and CGI.

There are paid features, which essentially give you access to more daily prompts, quicker generation and the ability to make your images private, but if you don’t see yourself needing more than 25 prompts a day, the free version works perfectly fine.

NightCafe

NightCafe has an array of free-to-use features that allow users to be as creative and artistic as possible. The free plan uses the SDXL 1.0 model and you also get five free prompts for Dall-E 3 and Stable Video Diffusion.

One of the standout features on NightCafe is the option to train a model to generate your own face, a specific object, or a particular art style, but it’s limited to two free fine tunes before you need to purchase credits to keep training.

Before inputting your prompt, you’re given a vast list of style presets to choose from, depending on your image needs. We picked ‘Striking’ for our prompt, but there are the likes of Anime, Color Painting, CGI, Dark Fantasy, Hyperreal, Epic Origami, Modern Comic, Photo, Oil Painting and many more to choose from.

Users get five free credits a day, with one credit equalling one image generation, as opposed to one prompt. When generating images you can choose how many images it creates, so there is the need to be quite economical with your credits, but the results are accurate, detailed and realistic.

Users can, of course, purchase more credits, with 100 credits costing $5.99 monthly.

Runway AI

Runway AI

Runway AI isn’t just a text-to-image generator, but an all-round AI machine that allows users to use its AI creative suite for a multitude of purposes, including text-to-video, video-to-video and generative audio.

The text-to-image tool is perfect for users looking for more control and creativity over their images. You can remix the style and composition of your images, while all images generated are returned in high-resolution.

However, the user interface is quite complex and in some areas requires specific creation methods and coding, which makes it more suited to more advanced or skilled users. It’s the ideal generative AI tool for the likes of designers, illustrators and artists.

It is free to use, but the free version is only limited to 510 credits, which gets a little over 100 image generations (each generation costs five credits). You do get the option to edit style, resolution and image ratio with every generation, though.

Beyond that, you have to upgrade, with the cheapest plan coming in at $15 monthly for 625 credits and the use of additional and more advanced features.

DeepAI

DeepAI

DeepAI is a free-to-use AI image generator that allows users to create unlimited images with a wide variety of styles to choose from.

It has a very basic interface and only generates one image per prompt, but it is a great platform for those looking to experiment with AI, such as enthusiasts or creative freelancers looking for a cost-effective way to generate images.

It isn’t the fastest generator on the market and as it only generates one image at a time, it might take several prompts before you get the image you’re looking for, but the overall quality, accuracy, and capabilities are impressive, especially if you choose to generate your image in HD. That requires you to create an account, whereas the standard image generation doesn’t, but the difference in quality between the two is, well, HD.

From there, you can play around with different style presets and image enhancements to help you get the best possible results.

If you’re looking for a bit more from DeepAI, their only paid plan is $4.99 a month, or you can pay-as-you-go for $5-per-additional use of a premium feature.

Microsoft Designer

Microsoft Designer

Powered by Dall-E, Microsoft’s image generator is completely free to use and can be accessed via Copilot, formerly known as Bing Chat, or directly on the tool’s website.

As image generators go, Microsoft Designer is as simple as they come from a user interface and feature point of view (there are no editing options, for example), but it does give you guidance on how to construct the perfect prompt by suggesting you use adjectives, nouns, verbs and styles. The style is particularly important as it will determine the style of your end result.

Overall it’s a great free-to-use image generator for creatives, designers, artists, social media professionals, and anyone looking to have a play around with the AI and test its capabilities.

There are no paid plans either, it’s completely free to use. All you have to do is login using your Microsoft account.

The bottom line

When it comes to picking a favorite, it’s difficult to look past Microsoft Designer for accuracy and quality. It took my prompt and delivered an image that had all the details I requested.

The others also delivered high-quality images, but most of them omitted key details outlined in the prompt, such as the cat’s white paws, the black taxi or the red double-decker bus. Their accuracy wasn’t quite up to scratch for what it was being asked to do.

Ideogram was the closest to matching Microsoft designer in terms of accuracy but its quality was ever so slightly down and also has daily limitations, which Microsoft’s image generator doesn’t.

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