Is it possible to art direct the Midjourney AI art generator? If you’re new to Midjourney, see my lengthy post on how it works.
Today I’ll try an experiment. I’ll make a retro children’s book cover, starting with art generated by artificial intelligence. Will the Midjourney algorithm give me something that could pass for a retro classic children’s book?
This is the sort of thing I’m going for: Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and other middle grade mystery adventures published in the 20th century.
I’ve decided to make an Alfred Hitchcock Three Investigators book cover like The Secret of the Haunted Mirror. I’ll call mine The Haunting Of The Invisible Magician.
/imagine [ENTER] the haunting of the invisible magician, retro children’s book cover
Let’s see what Midjourney does with that. Not surprisingly, it throws me the easily identifiable ‘Midjourney palette’ of reds and blues with a bit of yellow. Sure enough, I’ve got something that looks like an old children’s book, but not the kind you see above. These covers seem drawn from paperbacks of the 1970s and later.
I want to get away from that palette. I tried this:
/imagine [ENTER] the haunting of the invisible magician, in the style of a alfred hitchcock three investigators cover
But I’m pretty sure it’s given me a back view of Alfred Hitchcock. Midjourney doesn’t recognise The Three Investigators series as an entity in its own right.
I found out who illustrated the Three Investigators covers. Unfortunately, these guys aren’t very well known. Especially Harry Kane. Their art is known, but their names are not. So using Harry Kane doesn’t help Midjourney at all.
I’m trying psychedelic hoping for that green vibrancy.
/imagine [ENTER] the haunting of the invisible magician, retro, psychedelic color, low angle, cinematic, oil painting, in the style of harry kane
It gives me this. I really like the composition. (I even like the hand! Midjourney is not known for generating great hands.) But there’s nothing psychedelic about the colour scheme. I love this, but it looks very ‘Midjourney’ and is nothing like any of those retro book covers I’m going for.
If I want green, I’ll have to tell it.
/imagine [ENTER] the haunting of the invisible magician, retro, children book cover, psychedelic neon green glow, tilt angle, perspective, cinematic, oil painting
Now we’re cooking with gas. (Specifying the angle does nothing, I think.) Midjourney has even given me markings for a cracked spine. I’m taking this into Affinity Photo (non-subscription plan Photoshop). Unfortunately it’s given me a cousin of Harry Potter, which I definitely don’t want. (Guess it’s the word
magician. Probably also
I also want a few more details. I could paint them in myself, or I could see what Midjourney comes up with. I was actually after a spell book, but it gave me this thing. Might as well use it.
Midjourney is as gender stereotypical as society, so if you want a ‘magician’ you always get a man. I asked for a Victorian magician because Midjourney kept giving me some strange hat.
I like that a lot, so made it the main graphic on the book cover.
Font choice makes all the difference. I’m using a font called Irish Grover. I’ve adjusted the tracking and kerning (spacing and up-and-down-ness) in Affinity’s Text > Character panel.
The final product. If this were for a real thing I’d spend longer on the face but I’m satisfied with this experiment. (And faces take me for freaking ever to get right.)
MAKE YOUR OWN
If you’d like to give this a go, I have some ideas for your title.
Long Title Random Generator
First, pick a number between 1 and 24.
Now pick two numbers between 1 and 55.
|1.||The Mystery Of The||Old||Bungalow|
|2.||The Secret Of The||Spooky||House|
|3.||The Clue Of The||Broken||Parrot|
|4.||The Case Of The||Black||Cave|
|5.||The Crime Of The||Hidden||Puppet|
|6.||The Curse Of The||Dancing||Cat|
|7.||Intrigue Of The||Moonlit||Scarecrow|
|8.||The Haunting Of The||Dark||Dragon|
|9.||Sign Of The||Invisible||Ghost|
|10.||What Happened To The||Fire||Magician|
|11.||The Story Of The||Shrinking||Footsteps|
|12.||Adventures Of The||Crooked||Cipher|
|13.||Night Of The||Double||Labyrinth|
|14.||Day Of The||Sky||Maze|
|15.||The End Of The||Thirteenth||Witch|
|16.||Crusade Of The||Underground||Wizard|
|17.||The Tale Of The||Twin||Dungeon|
|18.||The Crime Of The||Disappearing||Pearl|
|19.||The Search For The||Black||Treasure|
|21.||The Disaster Of The||Dangerous||Island|
|22.||The Time Of The||Murderous||Crow|
|23.||The Final Hours Of The||Green-eyed||Spider|
|24.||Sabotage Of The||Doggone||Hand|
|25.||The Tale Of The||Living||Jungle|
|26.||Revenge Of The||Cliff-top||Stranger|
|27.||The Enigma Of The||Flaming||Professor|
|28.||The Conundrum Of The||Underground||Thief|
|30.||Quandary Of The||Secret||Escapade|
|31.||The Plot of The||Musical||Butterfly|
|32.||The Open Secret Of The||April Fool’s Day||Cat Burglar|
|33.||Wedding Day||Train Robbery|
Short Title Random Generator
Pick two numbers between 1 – 55.
|14.||Substitute Teacher’s||Last Resort|