How to use DALL-E 2: Exploration and Possibilities

DALL-E 2 is an AI system created by OpenAI that can generate realistic images and modifications from text descriptions. The name “DALL-E” comes from the combination of “Salvador Dali” and “WALL-E”, referring to the surreal and generative creativity of the artist and robot character. DALL-E 2 allows you to create art and visuals simply by using text descriptions, without the need for artistic talent. The AI does the image generation for you.

With DALL-E 2, you can generate completely original images from text “prompts” that you write. You can also edit and manipulate existing images and photos in a creative way. DALL-E 2 allows you to generate stylized art in historical, artistic and fantasy styles. It can produce images for logo designs, product models, interior designs, landscapes, people and more.

In essence, DALL-E 2 gives you the power to visualize virtually anything with AI-generated images using simple descriptions of what one wants to create. How cool is that?

DALL-E 2: Journey through its evolution and context

DALL-E 2 is the successor to DALL-E, an AI image generator previously released in 2021 by OpenAI. OpenAI researchers have been working on DALL-E 2 since 2019. The project aims to develop AI that assists-rather than replaces-human creativity. Despite its name, DALL-E 2 is not really intelligent in the human sense. It simply generates images that statistically match the semantic content of textual “prompts” provided by the user.

Understanding the brain of DALL-E 2: The inner workings of AI

The AI model behind DALL-E 2 contains two main components: a text encoder that represents your “prompt” as a high-dimensional vector, and an image decoder that generates images based on that text vector.

The text encoder has been trained on hundreds of millions of human-written captions to learn how to represent a written description.

The image decoder was trained by comparing its candidate images to the original images matching a caption.

When you enter a “prompt”, DALL-E 2's text encoder turns it into a vector that the image decoder can interpret to produce 3 images that match your description. The AI uses diffusion patterns, a technique that gradually transforms noise into realistic images over time. This helps DALL-E 2 produce photorealistic, high-resolution results.

Getting Started with DALL-E 2: Registration and First Creations

Register and Create an Account

You will first need to register for an OpenAI account. You will need to provide basic details such as your name, email address and create a password.

Here is the link to register:

The DALL-E 2 interface and main features

The DALL-E 2 interface is accessible via a browser. The main features are :

  • A text prompt box where you enter your text description.
  • An “Upload” option to upload existing images that you want to modify or generate variations.
  • A “Generate” button to produce images based on your textual prompt.
  • After generating the images, you are shown 4 options created by the AI. You can then select one to save it or generate new variations.
  • An “Edit” feature that allows you to modify the generated images by deleting parts and entering a new prompt.
  • A “Variations” option to produce additional generated images based on the same prompt.
  • A “Save to Collection” button to organize your images into collections for easy access later.

Generating your first images

Once you have an account and access DALL-E 2, simply

  • Enter a short text “prompt”, 5-10 words, describing the image you want to create. (You must use English only for the prompts)
  • Click on the “Generate” button.
  • Wait about 30 seconds while the AI generates 4 images based on your prompt.
  • Review the 4 options and select the one you like best.
  • Save the image to a collection if you wish

Start with simple, straightforward “prompts” to familiarize yourself with the system. Then, gradually, make your prompts more complex and detailed as you gain experience with DALL-E 2.

Here is an example with the prompt “a white dog running in a field

So we see the result, with the prompt at the top and the 4 images below.

Building an effective prompt: The art of guiding DALL-E 2

The anatomy of an effective prompt

The most important factor that determines the quality of DALL-E 2 images is the prompt. Effective prompts are:

  • Detailed: Include numerous adjectives, objects, styles, contexts and specific features.
  • Focused : Address a single, concise concept or scene rather than several ideas.
  • Specific : Mention concrete details that give the AI literal clues to incorporate into the image.
  • Stylized : Include artistic styles, mediums, and time periods to permeate the image generation.
  • Experimental : Reframe, extend and modify your prompts to generate new variations.
  • Appropriate : Avoid biased, harmful or illegal content that is not aligned with DALL-E 2 uses.
  • Using adjectives, objects, styles and other details

To generate high-quality images, aim for prompts with:

  • 5+ adjectives describing key features (e.g., color, shape, emotion, context, etc.)
  • 3+ distinctive objects central to the scene or performance
  • 1-2 artistic styles, mediums, or time periods to anchor the generation
  • 2+ contexts, locations, or environments where the scene might take place
  • Appropriate verbs and prepositions to tie the different elements together

Try to create your prompt by invoking as much visual detail as possible in your prompt. The more nuanced information you provide, the more closely the image created by DALL-E 2 will match your vision.

Here is an example of a complex prompt for DALL-E 2:

“iphone made of terracotta from Harappa, Indus Valley Civilization, Pakistan; 2600-1900 BC, studio light”

– It specifies a central object – an iPhone
– It mentions that the iPhone is made of terracotta, to add an unusual look
– It places the object in a specific cultural and geographical context – the Indus Valley Civilization in Harappa, Pakistan, circa 2600-1900 BC
– It anchors the generation in a historical style and period – the ancient Indus
– It mentions lighting conditions – studio light – to guide the visual rendering

This prompt uses several of the techniques mentioned:

– It provides 3+ distinctive objects: an iPhone, terracotta, studio light
– It anchors the generation in a style (“terracotta”) and historical period (the Indus)
– It places the scene in a specific context: Harappa, Indus Valley, 2600-1900 BC
– It uses verbs and prepositions to connect the elements: ‘iPhone made of…from Harappa'

The strengths of this prompt are:

– The high level of specificity: place, period and material are precisely defined
– The unusual but plausible detail: a Bronze Age terracotta iPhone
– The overall coherence: all elements combine logically in the scene described

In summary, this well-structured and detail-rich prompt should produce a very specific and interesting image, thanks to all the information provided to the AI model. It is a good example of how a complex prompt can effectively guide image generation with DALL-E 2.

This type of elaborate and nuanced prompt is necessary to produce photorealistic and very specific images with DALL-E 2. The more information you can provide to the AI model, the more likely it is to accurately capture and represent the scene you have in mind.

Complex Image Generation Challenge: Tips and Technique

For ambitious image generations like:

  • Complex scenes with multiple objects
  • Modified or combined existing images
  • Photorealistic representations of real-world situations

Try techniques like :

  • Breaking down your prompt into 2+ shorter, simplerdescriptions to generate reference images
  • Editing/combining the best reference generations using DALL-E 2 editing tools
  • Progressively improve your prompt through multiple generations and modifications
  • Outsource subtasks (e.g., generating individual objects) and combine the results

With complex prompts, multiple generations and iterative modifications are often required to produce high-quality images that fully realize your vision. Be patient, experiment frequently and refine your prompts over time.

Stylized Image Generation

Generate artistic renderings

To generate artistic renderings, include stylistic keywords such as:

  • Oil painting, watercolor, charcoal sketch, digital art, pixel art
  • Impressionist, surrealist, abstract expressionist, cubist, etc.
  • Mention an artistic style: “in the style of Van Gogh”, “Picasso-esque”, etc.
  • Try several styles: “An abstract watercolor painting in a surrealist style”.
  • Vary the complexity: simple → detailed scenes work best for each style.
  • Produce animations: Add “GIF” or “animation.”
  • Experiment to the extreme! Mix Renaissance style with pixel art, anime with pointillism, etc.
  • Produce historical and period images

You can give style indications in the “time”, for example:

  • Stone Age
  • Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome
  • Middle Ages
  • Renaissance
  • Victorian Era
  • 1980s, 1990s

You can imagine specific events, places or objects:

  • Anachronisms: “An Egyptian feast with iPhones”.
  • Event mentions: “The signing of the Declaration of Independence”
  • Culturally appropriate objects, clothing, architecture.
  • Creation of illustrated images

It is entirely possible to specify the purpose of the image:

  • Tutorials
  • Health & science diagrams
  • Maps
  • Book illustrations
  • Clipart
  • infographics


  • “An illustrated…”
  • “A diagram showing…”
  • “Clipart of…”
  • “A label diagram of…”

Editing and manipulating images

There are two other interesting tools to use in Dall-2, inpainting to change a part of the image, and outpainting, which allows to continue and extend existing images in a new and interesting way, while remaining consistent with their content and style.

Inpainting with DALL-E 2: The art of erasing and filling in the blanks

Inpainting uses the editing tools of DALL-E 2 to :

  • Remove unwanted objects/people from photos
  • Delete panels, posters or distracting elements
  • Delete damaged/incomplete parts of images

So you can:

  1. add an image by clicking on “Upload.”
  2. Select the eraser tool
  3. Delete the unwanted section
  4. Enter a prompt describing what you want instead
  5. Adjust the prompt based on the results

Some tips:

  • Erase slowly to refine your selection.
  • Provide a detailed and specific prompt.
  • Generate several images and compare/combine the results.

Outpainting with DALL-E 2: Expand your creative horizon

  • Photos
  • Artwork
  • Graphics


  1. Upload an image
  2. Select “Add generative frame
  3. Choose the location where you want to enlarge the image
  4. Enter a prompt of what you want, here I put “The city in background”

I think the results are really good with Outpainting, it is one of the most interesting options compared to the competition.

Remember to specify how to expand by describing :

  • Additional context
  • Additional details
  • Continuations of patterns/subjects

Inspire variations: From product design to graphic art

  1. Upload an image
  2. Remove background (optional)
  3. Enter a prompt describing the desired changes
  4. Select “Generate variations
  5. Review new versions
  6. Select/combine the best variations

You can vary:

  • Angles
  • Styles
  • Weather conditions
  • Characters/subjects

Other applications and use cases

Product and graphic design

DALL-E 2 can be used for product and graphic design, such as creating product mock-ups, packaging mock-ups, and design concepts. Techniques include uploading product images, removing backgrounds, modifying existing designs, and combining elements from multiple designs. You can generate concepts and variations to explore different possibilities. For example, you could generate product mockups “Product of a glass water bottle with flip-top lid on a wooden table” or logo concepts “A 2d, symmetrical, flat logo for a blockchain company that is sleek and simple. It should be of black shade and should be subtle.”

DALL-E 2 and conceptual art: Stimulating ideation

DALL-E 2 excels at generating concept art and ideating design possibilities. You can develop concepts for book covers, movie posters, character designs, vehicle designs and more. Good techniques involve iterative concept development, outsourcing subtasks such as generating individual characters, and combining elements of multiple concepts to foster novelty. For example, you might generate “fantasy city gate designs in the style of World of Warcraft” or “Alien creature sketches for a science fiction film.”

DALL-E 2 for education: images and diagrams for learning

DALL-E 2 can produce educational images and diagrams that are clear, simple and well-labeled. Uses include generating mathematical equations, scientific diagrams, anatomical illustrations, historical scenes and timelines. Good techniques involve focusing on clarity and simplicity, labeling parts and components, including captions for context, generating multiples for comparison, and re-prompting to improve quality. For example, you could generate “a detailed anatomical diagram of the human hand with labeled bones and tendons” or “a step-by-step visual timeline of the American Revolution with captioned scenes.”

Develop your artistic talent with DALL-E 2

Where to get inspiration for your DALL-E 2 creations

Sources of inspiration for DALL-E 2 text prompts and projects include:

  • Wikipedia articles on the subjects for which you want to generate images
  • Art history books covering different eras or styles
  • Design inspiration sites featuring products, graphics and visuals
  • Royalty-free photo sites to get ideas for photographic concepts
  • Image search engines for general visual inspiration
  • Browsing subreddits like r/Art, r/DesignPorn, for stimulus
  • Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram or twitter

The key is to continually expose yourself to new ideas, styles and visual stimuli that you can translate into prompts and DALL-E 2 generations.

Effective Brainstorming: Methods for generating prompts and projects

Techniques for finding new DALL-E 2 text prompts and projects include:

  • Brainstorming by free association – Write down anything that comes to mind
  • List-making – Write down topics, styles, attributes and features
  • Mind-mapping – Visually organize related concepts on a map
  • Question generation – Ask yourself “who?”, “what?”, “how?” questions
  • Compound prompt techniques – Combine multiple ideas into one prompt
  • Researching interesting concepts – Read articles on the topics you want to generate
  • Take it one step at a time- Break down large projects into simple prompts that you can generate individually and then combine

Don't worry if your first attempts with DALL-E 2 seem a little clumsy or mundane. As with any new creative tool, it takes time to get used to it and develop an intuition about it. But with regular practice, you'll become more and more comfortable coming up with original and powerful ideas to explore.

Inspiration doesn't always come spontaneously, no matter how brilliant you are! You have to feed your imagination by exposing yourself to new sources of ideas – reading books on unexpected topics, scanning unusual images, looking at the world around you with fresh eyes. And when you start looking for ideas for DALL-E 2, try different techniques to stimulate your creativity, such as making lists of loose associations, combining distant concepts, or modifying existing prompts.

With time and practice, developing creative prompts and projects with DALL-E 2 will become more and more natural. But never forget to keep feeding your imagination and playing with the creative process itself. This is the best way to become an inspired and effective DALL-E 2 user!

Is DALL-E 2 free?

Unfortunately no, well not quite, DALL-E 2 has a credit based pricing structure. A predetermined number of credits will be given to new users for creating, modifying or varying photos. Unlike modification and variant, generation results in four images for one credit. Credits can be added in $15 increments, or they can be recharged monthly at a rate of $15 the second month and $50 the first.

CostCreditsNumber of images
First monthFREE50200
Each subsequent monthFREE1560
Additional credit packs15 $115460

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