Tips & Resources

Using AI to Generate Design Assets – Holiday Card Edition

Yasmine (Yaz) Riachi
Yasmine (Yaz) Riachi December 02, 2022 • 0 min read
“Inspiration is for amateurs” – Chuck Close.

In a design agency, clients come up with ideas every day. Ideas that are usually created when someone, somewhere, experiences a problem and asked themselves if there was a way to prevent or avoid that problem in the future. That’s where an agency comes in. An idea is not a solution, but it is the first step in finding the solution. 

As the design process moves forward from this phase, it will move into the conceptualization phase. This is where the creatives get to have fun. Ask any designer, there are a million tricks to help generate ideas, but sometimes despite your best efforts, you hit a wall.

At Cortex, we wanted to explore how we could use artificial intelligence to generate ideas. So we gathered the team and held a design sprint with a twist. After everyone on the team was briefed on how to use DreamStudio and Dall-e. We let their imaginations run. Our goal was simple, we needed a new holiday card.

The results were varied, and we gathered lots of learnings. Some images were good enough to make it as our 2022 Holiday cards:

Prompts from right to left: Cyberpunk image of Toronto during Christmas A rendering of a Christmas Tree on top of the CN tower 4k Octane Render A holiday party on Saturn with a big feast of food, digital art Artist reindeer drinking eggnog, drawing presents in a reading room, Norman Rockwell painting

Some images looked like they came right out of the 90s:

Left:Santa Claus using Solidworks cad program on a computer in the north pole with a reindeer beside him
Right: 3D render of a giant turkey fighting a snowman at night on a skating rink

Some gave Hallmark a run for their money. Why? How? Who knows….

Left: Text prompt was “the CN Tower in Toronto with Christmas ornaments hanging from it and snow falling behind” Right: Text prompt: “the words “cortex design” in the background with a candle, a wreath, and a Christmas cocktail in the foreground” – Try as we might, we could not get the AI to make actual text to appear in the image. Why was this one so Hallmark-y? No idea.

And some are indescribable:

Left: orange Persian cat with reindeer antlers and red nose playing in the snow, digital art
Right: nondenominational holiday party with dancing aliens in a living room

We learned a couple of things during this process. Finding that we want to pass along to anybody else looking to use AI to elevate their idea-generation process.

  • Spelling is critical. As smart as these intelligences are, they seem to be defeated by a simple typo.
  • The more information the internet has about a topic the better the ideas the AI was able to come up with
  • Adding the style in which you want the image presented gave the people writing the prompts a fair amount of control over the final images. (Dall-e is very good at making stained glass images)
  • Faces seem to be a difficult thing for AI’s to master. They tend to come out looking a little unsettling. 

Overall, using AI in the design process can be helpful when looking for different ways to quickly generate ideas, however, the designers aren’t quite out of a job yet as the AI’s tend to be good a gesturing at a concept but are unable to fully execute the vision.

Before you go, here are some honourable mentions:

Honorable Mentions

Cortex Design is an award-winning full-service product design and manufacturing firm specializing in developing and commercializing innovative medical and consumer products. Established in 1999, the team at Cortex believes that people deserve better experiences. They work with clients to visualize and develop those experiences and manufacture the solutions. Cortex’s Design for Commercialization™ methodology allows clients to support and/or augment their internal resources to de-risk their product design and launch exceptional products.

© 2023 Cortex Design Inc.