Tattoo Art Generators: When AI Gets Under Your Skin

Written by Joachim Dreher

12 October 2023


AI has – at least since the introduction of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 – become a global trend topic that excites people and provides a lot of discussion. Initially, the focus of general interest was the wide range of possible uses for text creation – especially in the professional sector, in journalism, marketing, but also in PR.

For some time now, the completely new possibilities of image generation offered by AI have been discussed – sometimes controversially. When it comes to images, especially in a business context, it is always very quickly about their authenticity, seriousness or copyrights. Artificial intelligence is also becoming increasingly important in the area of image design and is increasingly influencing the work of creative people and artists. That’s why it’s not surprising that AI-generated images are one of the design trends for 2023. It is not without good reason that the results of Midjourney, DALL-E 2, BlueWillow and many other programs that have now come onto the market are really impressive.

AI image generators are already being used in various areas, such as product design, film production, advertising or the development of video games. In addition, they are also often used for artistic purposes and serve as a tool for creatives to quickly and easily create new works of art or to provide inspiration for upcoming work. AI image generators offer many advantages. They can be used to create complex illustrations and graphics at high speed that would be difficult to reproduce manually. Technology also has a significant positive impact on the work efficiency of creatives, as time-consuming tasks can be automated, leaving image creators more time for other creative aspects of their work.

AI-Generated Images for Eternity

But AI is now not only used for images to illustrate books or articles, as wall decorations or advertising space. The new technology can now also be used for those who go deeper – in the truest sense of the word.

At least that’s the promise of various providers who are now advertising AI generators for creating tattoo motifs on the Internet. It’s actually surprising that such offers seem to be very well received, because tattoo artists of the “old school”, who mostly used pre-made, purchased and mediocre to poor quality templates from others, are rare these days. Today, young, motivated tattoo artists with extremely high creative standards only produce individually designed templates at the customer’s request, which are then only used once. Uniqueness is guaranteed here. Designs brought along are taken into account in terms of the basic idea, but are never implemented exactly. But in times of an unprecedented tattoo trend, despite the endless research possibilities of the Internet, there still seem to be many people who go to the tattoo studio largely unprepared and bring ready-made motifs “off the shelf”. Or have no concrete idea of what they actually want to have immortalised on their skin for the rest of their lives and what high artistic quality – both in the design of the motif and the execution – is possible today.

AI Tattoo Generators: A Small Selection

Not entirely altruistic, InkLabs offers a free tattoo generator that runs via WhatsApp. The company itself has five studios in Germany and, if you like it, offers the option of speaking to a personal tattoo consultant on the website. Of course, with the aim of planning and having the tattoo implemented in one of these shops. The AI tattoo generator BlackInkAI advertises that you no longer have to spend months searching for a tattoo motif on Pinterest and Instagram, but can instead use the company’s own tool to generate individual, unique templates in seconds. Twenty templates can be created for free, and for $20 the number of designs generated is unlimited. TattoosAI, promises something similar, with immediate charges of $9.99 for 7 days of use and $24.99 for a period of 30 days.

Sobering Results

Unfortunately, after testing the generators mentioned, you have to say that the results are quite disappointing. If you know how professional, artistically trained tattoo artists design and work today, you quickly realize that these tools don’t really have anything in common with high-quality AI solutions and their databases and access to a wide variety of information sources. The suggested motifs seem like they are from another time, are not original, are artistically mediocre at best and sometimes do not correspond to the search factors or prompts entered. The advertised uniqueness of the motifs on offer also seems questionable. If you log out briefly and then log back in again, the results for the same search terms will seem strangely familiar. Probably also because there is usually only the option of selecting from a manageable catalogue of motifs when entering, so real prompting is not possible at all. The whole thing looks more like a database with ready-made motifs that are displayed using a random generator. When you think of AI-assisted image generation, you definitely imagine something different.

If AI, Then What?

In order to generate truly impressive tattoo motifs and templates, tattoo enthusiasts who want to have their concrete ideas “pictorially implemented” in the truest sense of the word should use truly professional tools. Midjourney actually delivers the most impressive results here, even though this AI tool was not specifically developed for tattoos.

Illustratives Bild | Thema KI Tattoo
“Art for eternity. If you’re not entirely sure about your choice of motif, you can use AI image generators to find the perfect template for you.”

For just $10, those interested can generate up to 200 motif suggestions per month, and using it requires no prior knowledge. By studying images that have already been created based on very specific prompts, you quickly learn what is important if you want to have a certain style, a certain mood, a very special look or other specific design wishes implemented. So it doesn’t necessarily have to have a tattoo on it if you want to have even more unusual tattoo motif fantasies realized with an AI-supported application. The only drawback: Midjourney’s payment is made via the Stripe service, which only accepts credit cards from Mastercard, Visa and American Express as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay. You cannot pay with PayPal at Midjourney.

Detailed instructions on how to create tattoo motifs with Midjouney and what you need to consider to achieve the best possible results can be found here.

Cover image: Dan Burton on Unsplash

Illustrative image: Achim Dreher