Scarbutts Printers
Scarbutts Printers

Positives and Pitfalls of using AI for design for print.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has had a lot of attention this year and that’s not without justification. The benefits of AI, when used productively and properly are immense, and the topic, quite rightly, is vast!  In this article, we want to discuss the topic of AI when it comes to print and more specifically we’ll be diving into the positives and pitfalls of using AI for design for print.

The article is written without the use of AI, but at the bottom of the page, we’ve added the top 5 positives and the top 5 pitfalls generated by ChatGPT to see how they compare once it is written.

For the purposes of relating to print we’re going to be talking about tools like Chat GPT for text creation and for AI image creation, we’re referring to tools such as DALL-E-3, Midjourney and Adobe Firefly.

To start, let’s look at the list of positives for text creation.  Whereas once you would have called a meeting with colleagues and brainstormed, using a spider diagram to capture all your ideas, now ChatGPT can be a first port of call.  You can ask for example, for it to give you 10 straplines for a poster for a Halloween Event you are holding, and immediately you’ll be given some examples.  You can further refine this and ask for them all to be alliterations or exclude the word Halloween and see what you get!  It’s like a great brainstorming session except all the participants are invisible and you haven’t had to wait for Jonny, who always turns up late.

Examples of things you can use Chat GPT to generate:

  • Seriously sensational straplines for posters
  • Boldly beautiful business names
  • Perfectly practical product names
  • Bubblingly bountiful blurb for a book
  • Super scintillating summary of a product

But what about images?  1 in 3 people in the UK have a second income so there’s no shortage of competition when it comes to launching a business.  Maximising the use of time in the early days of a business to create unique and interesting branding and images for your printed collateral is imperative, and many people are turning to AI for help.  This allows them to create imagery that will capture people’s attention, without investing into outsourcing to artists and designers.

One huge positive of using AI to generate images is that you are only limited by your imagination.  If you can enter a good enough prompt there is a high chance that nobody else will have generated that image.  There is currently no subscription cost to begin utilising AI image generators, so, whereas before you would have been using the same free stock imagery as everyone else now you have access to a world of infinite possibilities! But be warned and be careful. Now we will talk about the potential pitfalls of AI-generated text and imagery.

Generating text through ChatGPT is easy but not all of what you generate is correct.  Take for example one thing that we did here, which was to ask for a list of the Top 10 most influential people in print in the UK.  We were given a list that not only included incorrect job titles but also people who had passed away.  It was a good starting point but to ensure that what we were given was correct we needed to give ChatGPT better prompts.  We learnt that we should have included a specification that they needed to be alive and if we intended to publish it we would have needed to fact-check the result before publication, something which we’re not sure many people are taking the time to do but could have disastrous consequences.

The pitfalls of generating images through AI for print are a little more complex. Generating useful images with AI takes time and patience.  Firstly, you need to ensure you are entering the right prompts to generate the type of images that you want. Be too vague and you’ll  need to spend time refining the results:

“An image of four friends at a Halloween party”

Four friends at a Halloween party

An AI generated image using the prompt four friends at a Halloween party.

Be clear about what you want, and you can get fantastic results:

“A photo style image of a group of friends inside a house at a Halloween party, wearing fancy dress; dark lit, low angle shot.”

An AI generated image using the prompt “A photo style image of a group of friends inside a house at a Halloween party, wearing fancy dress; dark lit, low angle shot.”

An AI generated image using the prompt “A photo style image of a group of friends inside a house at a Halloween party, wearing fancy dress; dark lit, low angle shot.”

Secondly, there is a grey area surrounding copyright infringement from AI-generated images. “Although an AI-generated artwork cannot be copyrighted or attributed to a person, the artwork used to train the generator algorithms is often copyrighted, owned, or attributed to real human artists and creators. As a result, there may be copyright infringements when creating AI-generated art.”[1]

Because it’s unclear how AI generators are trained and on which imagery, it’s safe to always assume copyright infringement and never use AI-generated work for commercial reasons.

The final pitfall of AI-generated images, that we want to cover from a print perspective, is that the generated image outputs tend to be low resolution, which are not suitable for printing. What can then follow is a series of edits and adjustments to try and increase the resolution of the image which doesn’t always yield great results. Here’s the before and after of one of our Halloween images after going through the upscaling process on an online tool:

The before and after of one of our Halloween images after going through the upscaling process on an online tool

The before and after of one of our Halloween images after going through the upscaling process on an online tool

At first glance, all looks OK the image on the right looks sharper but if we zoom in to 100% you can see that it is far from perfect and in a larger printed format, all these imperfections would be blindingly obvious.

Zoomed in to 100% showing the imperfections in an AI generated image of a lady's face like mottled effect on the skin and badly aligned parts of the image.

Zoomed in to 100% showing the imperfections in an AI generated image of a lady’s face like mottled effect on the skin and badly aligned parts of the image.

So now that you’ve read our thoughts, let’s see what Chat GPT thinks.

Chat GPT response: “5 positives of using AI for generating images for printed collateral”

Using AI for generating images for printed collateral can bring several advantages, enhancing the visual appeal and effectiveness of your marketing materials.

1/ Cost-Efficiency

AI can create high-quality images without the need for professional photographers or graphic designers, reducing the costs associated with image creation. This is especially beneficial for small businesses or organizations with limited budgets.

2/ Speed and Scalability

AI can generate images quickly and in large quantities. This is particularly useful when you need to produce various versions of printed materials for different campaigns, products, or target audiences, allowing for rapid scalability.

3/ Customization and Brand Alignment

AI can create images that align precisely with your brand’s visual identity, ensuring consistency in style, colour schemes, and messaging. This helps reinforce brand recognition and maintain a cohesive image across all collateral materials.

4/ A/B Testing and Optimization

AI-generated images can be easily modified or adapted for A/B testing, enabling you to determine which visuals resonate best with your audience. This iterative approach helps improve the effectiveness of your printed collateral over time.

5/ Creative Possibilities

AI can produce unique and creative visuals, including data-driven graphics and designs that would be challenging for humans to create manually. This opens up new possibilities for eye-catching, data-rich, and visually engaging printed collateral.

In summary, AI-powered image generation offers cost savings, speed, customization, the ability to optimize through A/B testing, and creative potential, all of which can enhance the quality and impact of your printed marketing materials.

Chat GPT response: “5 pitfalls of using AI for generating images for printed collateral”

While using AI for generating images for printed collateral offers many benefits, there are also potential pitfalls and challenges to consider. Here are five pitfalls to be aware of:

1/ Lack of Human Creativity

AI-generated images may lack the artistic and creative touch that human designers can provide. While AI can produce visually appealing images, it may not capture the same level of emotional depth or nuance as a human artist.

2/ Inaccurate Contextual Understanding

AI may misinterpret the context or intended message of your printed collateral, leading to images that are irrelevant or inappropriate for the content. This can result in a loss of message clarity and effectiveness.

3/ Overused or Generic Visuals

AI may draw from a limited pool of stock images or common visual themes, resulting in images that look generic or overused. This can dilute the uniqueness and impact of your printed materials.

4/ Ethical and Copyright Concerns

AI-generated images may inadvertently use copyrighted or protected materials, potentially leading to legal issues. It’s crucial to ensure that the AI tool you use respects copyright and intellectual property rights.

5/ Limited Emotional Appeal

AI-generated images may struggle to evoke strong emotions or resonate with audiences on a personal level. Human-created visuals often have the advantage of capturing the subtleties of human experiences and emotions more effectively.

To mitigate these pitfalls, it’s important to strike a balance between AI-generated and human-designed visuals. Consider using AI as a tool to assist human designers and maintain creative control over the final output to ensure that it aligns with your brand and messaging goals. Additionally, carefully review and curate AI-generated images to ensure they match the context and emotions you want to convey in your printed collateral.

And, just for fun, here is an entirely AI-generated Halloween event poster:

AI-generated Halloween event poster

AI-generated Halloween event poster

In summary, the same rules apply to AI-generated images as they do to any other image when it comes to print, if you want a good result you need to ensure that:

1/ The image is of high resolution and large enough for the size you want to print it at.

2/ The image is supplied in the correct colour profile for print.

3/ You have taken account of bleed and safe areas to ensure that the image/artwork won’t be cut off.

We’d love to know if you’ve been experimenting with AI text and images and what your experience has been like so far.  Have you tried printing anything that you’ve produced using AI? What issues, if any have you encountered with this?

If you need help with designing anything for your business, we have a dedicated team of designers that can work with you to bring your idea to life.  Get in touch today.


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