Sprout x AI — Experiment 01. May the Fourth Be With You.

As the world continues to evaluate the future impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence), there are ongoing conversations in the design space around how the industry will evolve as a result. We believe that AI is about to revolutionize the design industry, and by embracing this incredible technology, we can move forward towards learning and harnessing its full potential.

Over the last few months, the Sprout team has been exploring AI to truly comprehend how it can amplify our creative abilities. And, what better theme for experimenting with the future of technology than Star Wars…

In honor of May the Fourth, we’re sharing our first Sprout x AI Experiment — turning our in-studio sidekick, Cowboy, into “the child” of the Star Wars franchise, Din Grogu.

For this experiment, we used the AI image generation program, Midjourney. After testing a few others, Midjourney was the chosen one because it allows users to blend reference images with prompts based on the concept in mind. We set a budget of 10 hours for this project, and started a photo of Cowboy and of a Grogu figurine. Midjourney generates two to four images for each set of prompts. After a few rounds of iterations, we had a wide variety of results:

Each iteration felt close, but not quite what we were envisioning. We decided to have a few of our designers offer their critiques and asked the tool to incorporate their feedback:

Giving the tool too much creative direction resulted in several images that were downright creepy. The more we tried to manipulate the prompts, the more absurd Midjourney got. AI is currently limited with the information humans feed it, and the capabilities of these systems are restricted. Eventually AI is meant to learn on it’s own but, even the most extensive datasets cannot surpass the unique eye and innovative ideas of actual human designers.

It’s difficult for designers to have full control and to make minor tweaks such as adjusting the lighting or background without producing an entirely new iteration of the prompt. For this experiment, we determined that the best, most efficient use of the tool was ultimately a mixture of automation and collaboration with our designers to produce the desired outcome. Fear not designers, AI is merely a tool and not your replacement. 

Once we landed on an AI-generated Cowboy Din Grogu we liked, we transferred the image to Photoshop for refinement — swap out the background, add a lightsaber, and tweak his hands (which are notoriously difficult for AI to accurately generate).

At Sprout, we are excited to continue exploring the potential of AI technology and how it can enhance our work. Over the next few months we will be sharing a series of experiments integrating AI into the creative design process. We are looking forward to seeing what happens when our designers partner with technology to push the limits of their imagination.

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