07 December 2022

Hello DALL-E

Tulip next to a bubble

 I just acquired a new hobby, which is good, because I didn't have nearly enough ways to waste time and money.

DALL-E 2 is an artificial intelligence program that creates illustrations.  You begin by giving the AI a prompt, telling it as specifically as you can what you want.  In about ten seconds it gives you four variations. Many are weird.  Some are totally off-base (you will see one below). Some are delightful.  If you see one you like you can have the next iteration be variations on that one.

I started with something simple: I wanted to make a meme* related to the Tulip Bubble, one of history's first recorded stock market crashes.  So I asked DALL-E 2 to create a tulip next to a bubble.  You see the best of the four options above.  I used two free programs to straighten out the angle and add the text.

Then I started playing around.  See below.  I don't claim any of them are masterpieces but they are a thousand times better than I could do.

Cat playing the fiddle by Van Gogh

Faces are a weak point.  And the AI has odd lacunae: it understands Alice in Wonderland and George Washington, but not Sherlock Holmes. Deerstalker cap means nothing to it as well.

As I understand when you sign up for DALL-E 2 you get 30 free selections, plus 15 per month.  If you go past that it is $15 for 115 more.  Not expensive.

Police interrogating a penguin by Rodin

Police interrogating a penguin by Rembrandt

Police car chase by J.M.W. Turner

The last one is another meme I created, this time by asking for: drawing of the back of a person sitting in an armchair reading a book with a coffee cup.

Mafiosi recycling drawing (?)
 Some of these could make pretty good story prompts.  Some will certainly wind up illustrating my blog entries.  Now, if you will excuse me, I need to see what a kangaroo playing the banjo would look like if painted by Matisse. 

Alice in Wonderland by Salvador Dali
* According to Wikipedia the word "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976.  It meant "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture."  More recently it has come to mean an image widely shared on the internet.


  1. Car chase by "Turner" definitely the most convincing. But pity the poor freelance illustrators!

    1. There was another car chase by Turner good enough to use as a book cover, but it looked less Turner-ish, so I didn't include it here.

  2. My teenagers have been playing with this for ages now. The high school kids love their memes.

  3. Oh, God, another rabbit hole to go down... But I enjoyed it!


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>