What’s the state of AI in design?
In today’s guide, you’ll learn exactly how AI is used in design (and whether AI will offer better tools to designers…or completely replace designers). Plus, you’ll learn about 12 of the best AI design tools.
Want to learn more? Read on!
Artificial intelligence is, simply put, a machine’s ability to perform tasks that have so far been mostly done by humans. AI analyzes vast amounts of data and comes up with ideas and solutions.
Ultimately, AI is saving designers a ton of time.
You see, artificial intelligence can help designers have a far bigger impact by automating mundane and routine tasks, generating ideas, and creating content.
In fact, a study from Deloitte found that 57% of business leaders predict that AI will “substantially transform” their company within the next three years. Two-thirds think that their entire industry will transform within five years through AI.
61% of employees are also more productive because of AI, while almost half, 49%, reported faster and better decision making. Another 37% thought AI improved team collaboration.
One of the notable ways that AI will transform industries is that AI automates tasks to free up workers to be more creative.
The study by Deloitte found that:
A few use cases in design include:
For example, Airbnb is using AI in its design processes by generating production-ready code from hand-drawn wireframe sketches. Netflix uses AI for artwork personalization and localization of banners. Other use cases include architects who are changing the way offices are built and artists who are creating award-winning art.
But what are the benefits of AI in design? That’s what we’ll look at next.
There are four major ways that AI benefits design and its designers.
In short, designers work better, faster, and more efficiently through the use of AI in design. Things that take a long time now will become much faster and cheaper to create. Design that currently takes a long time (such as creating metaverse worlds or 3D design) will become much more accessible.
Will AI replace designers?
Not anytime soon – and here’s why.
A 2023 Goldman Sachs report revealed that shifts in workflows triggered by AI advancements could eliminate over 300 million full-time jobs as they’re absorbed by AI automation.
However, 46% of the tasks analyzed were administrative.
The current power of AI is in the speed in which it can analyze vast amounts of data and suggest design adjustments. So a designer can make more intelligent decisions or even use the extra time to A/B test multiple prototypes.
In the future, the goalpost won’t be just “good design” but something more. With the help of AI, designers can be more conscious about design decisions that connect and engage people on a deeper level.
Not convinced? Well, consider the fact that 60% of today’s workers are employed in occupations that didn’t exist in 1940. That means over 85% of the employment growth in the past 80 years can be attributed to technology creating new positions.
Designers in 2023 (and beyond) need to learn how to adapt to AI and upskill to learn various AI tools and leverage its power. AI may not replace designers themselves, but designers will be replaced by others who do embrace AI.
I talk about something similar here – whether instructional designers will be replaced by AI:
There are infinite ways that designers can use AI to augment their creative process, but it can be summed up in three major ways.
First, there is AI that uses an “text-to-image” scenario. That means a designer types out a prompt and may tweak various settings, and then the AI produces an image.
Second, there is the “image-to-image” scenario, also known as img2img. This is when AI will use a designer's image as a source and produce variations of the image based on it.
Third, there is a basic “text-to-text” scenario allowing these AI users to easily craft content (for example, translated versions of the same text) or generate text ideas.
Fourth, we have “text-to-video”, which means that AI uses text to create video content.
In the next section, we’ll look at apps and tools that use these approaches. Let’s find out what some of the leading AI design tools are right now.
Now that you know how AI can benefit those in design, it’s time to break down the best design tools. AI design tools are any software applications or platforms that utilize AI techniques and algorithms to help out designers.
As Adobe’s Senior Director of Product Analytics, Sid Shah said, “Good AI makes life easier. Great AI gets out of the way.” You’ll find that the various AI tools on this list do just that.
Here’s a rundown of the top AI design tools in 2023.
ChatGPT by OpenAI is an AI chatbot or natural language processing tool. Think of it as autocomplete but times 1,000 – it’s trained on a vast amount of data.
Especially the latest version, ChatGPT-4, offers advanced techniques and larger-scale training data. It generates conversational, coherent and contextually relevant responses. In short, its natural language makes it easy to ask questions (or get text-to-text AI responses) about many different design topics.
For example, you can ask it to ideate design ideas (based on the huge database it’s trained on). Or you can research things, create prototypes, and so on.
ChatGPT Plus (ChatGPT-4) costs $20/month. You can use earlier versions of ChatGPT for free.
In this short video, I talk about how instructional designers can use ChatGPT:
While ChatGPT is text-focused, MidJourney is an AI art generator from Imagine Art. It translates text into images. This allows designers to explore the endless potential of AI generated art to use for prototypes, references, and so on.
MidJourney has various pricing models, including three subscription plans: $10/mo, $30/mo, and $60/mo plans. You can also get each plan with a yearly commitment with a 20% discount, costing $8/mo, $24/mo, and $48/mo.
DALL-E-2, by OpenAI, is another AI system that creates realistic images and art from a text description. DALL-E supports different painting styles.
DALL-E 2 is free to try and users are allotted a few free credits each month. Those designers using it regularly will need to buy credits. DALL-E 2 generates four images for each text prompt for one credit. It is currently $15 for 115 credits, translating to about $0.13/prompt or $0.0325/image.
Launched in 2013, Canva is an online design and visual communication platform. Canva was created with the intention of empowering everyone to create and publish content. With the advancements of AI, Canva has become a leader in the design space.
Canva has a free version including a wide library of stock vector graphics, templates, and images. Meanwhile for $12.99/month, Canva Pro can be licensed for teams and unlocks premium graphics, imagery, and features.
Jasper.ai offers an AI art text-to-image art generator that creates photorealistic images and illustrations. AI also has a writing tool for generating copy, which can be used for banner ads, instructional content, and more.
Jasper.ai has three popular pricing plans broken down into Creator ($39/mo), Teams ($99/mo), and Business (custom pricing). Plans do offer a trial to test out this AI tool before committing.
Adobe created a generative AI feature inside all of its Adobe products and the Creative Cloud. It helps deliver insights to inform decisions so designers can manage data better and uncover useful insights. For instance, Adobe Sensei analyzes text to understand the document’s tone and summarizes the text.
Adobe Sensei is not a software itself as it is engrained throughout the Adobe Creative Cloud. With an Adobe application or Creative Cloud subscription, one can leverage this powerful AI feature.
Just like Adobe Sensei, Adobe Firefly lives throughout 20+ Adobe products. Firefly is the name of Adobe’s generative AI, which allows users to turn simple text prompts into images, transform typography, alternate colors, and more. With the Adobe Generative Fill feature, graphic designers can select an area, type in a prompt, and AI fills the space with what’s asked. For instance, one can select the ground and turn it from grass into snow.
As a part of Creative Cloud, Adobe Firefly is built into the platform and included with any active subscriptions.
This AI design tool is all about colors. Designers use Khroma to quickly and easily find and save color combinations or discover new color palettes based on their preferences. To start out, designers choose 50 colors from a wide range of shades and hues, then Khroma takes it from there.
Khroma is free.
This design tool by Google is specific to drawing. It suggests drawings based on machine learning algorithms and in short, guesses what a user is trying to draw. This AI’s mission is driven by fun and its creators are simply trying to make drawing more exciting and accessible.
Autodraw is free and doesn’t require any downloads or credit cards.
If you need to enhance or upscale an image, Let’s Enhance is the AI tool for you. It can sharpen images and improve their quality while generating AI art all in one click. Designers and marketers find this tool useful because clearer images increase conversions, and before this AI tool, poor resolution images were tedious to fix.
One can try out Let’s Enhance for free one time through their five credit free offers. Then, it’s about $12/mo for 100 credits each month and plans scale from there.
UI/UX for designers is more important than ever as more and more content is going digital. That means companies must optimize how users interact with content on a screen—by recording their eye patterns and behaviors. VisualEyes is AI’s solution to UI/UX. With 93% accurate predictive technology, this AI simulates eye-tracking studies and preference tests so designers can optimize their designs.
VisualEyes does not have a free trial and their pricing model is customized to each user.
All designers know that designing a logo was one of the toughest design projects, until Looka. This AI-powered platform designs logos and helps designers build brands in just a few minutes.
Basic logo packages start at $20, but Looka recommends purchasing a Brand Kit subscription for $96/year granting AI-generated templates and business assets, like email signatures.
As the #1 AI video platform, Synthesia promises professional videos in 15 minutes. It leverages AI to turn text into speech in over 120 languages and allows users to choose from over 140 diverse avatars to star in their video. With no video equipment, filming, or editing required, Synthesia is a great AI solution for designers tasked with video projects.
Synthesia allows website visitors to make a free video, then offers affordable plans starting at just $30/month.
Learn more about Synthesia in my short video on the top 5 AI tools for instructional designers:
Descript is an all-in-one tool focused on podcast design and production. It helps users write, record, transcribe, edit, collaborate and even share videos and podcasts.
Designers can use various AI features from Descript for 1 hour per month for free, then premium plans start from $12 per month.
Recording voiceovers used to be a time-consuming project for content creators but today, this AI can create voiceovers in real time. WellSaid Labs is a top AI voice platform that makes voice production easier, faster and cheaper.
WellSaid Labs is free to try, then plans begin at $44 per month.
Graphic designers specifically can greatly benefit from using AI as it is integrated into so many of today’s design tools. Everyone who uses Photoshop, or another Adobe Creative Cloud product, is using its built-in AI features (maybe without even knowing it).
Graphic designers used to spend ages brainstorming content ideas, sourcing stock imagery, tracing subjects, removing backgrounds from subjects, tweaking shadows, fixing reflections, and so much more. Now, AI has sped up the process.
No one likes the answer “it depends”— but in this case, it does. To determine which is the BEST AI design tool for you as a designer, you need to consider your exact needs.
Midjourney, ChatGPT, and DALL-E 2 are some of the best known tools regarded for their ease of use and success rate. Start experimenting with those tools and expand your search from there.
There you have it! You now know all about AI in design and how to leverage it as a designer.
Ultimately, AI helps make your work more effective. And now is the time to learn how to use AI so that you stay ahead.
Would you like to leverage your design skills to help people learn?