Creator interview: Steve Coulson

In these creator interview posts, I’ll be asking a series of questions to people using AI tools for their work or artwork.
I hope you will enjoy the read and learn one or two useful things ;).

Madebyai: Can you tell us who you are and how you ended up Doing Ai generated art?

Steve: I first read about Midjourney when it was in beta testing over the summer and had to wait for an invite to get in. So while I wasn’t there at the start, I was definitely an early adopter comparatively. Like anyone else I started created images for fun, with random prompts to test the system. But as I git more familiar with it’s capabilities, I started to think about the potential for sequential storytelling – first in a series of photo essays, and then in comic book form.

Summer island book cover

Madebyai: Could you share with us what is your job, when, and why you started using AI for artwork?

Steve: I head up a marketing company in New York City that promotes entertainment properties and brands using transmedia techniques. So my work is based around storytelling across lots of different mediums – audio, video, digital and physical. But this was the first comic I’ve attempted. While I have lots of artist collaborators I use (and pay) for client projects, this was a hobby project with no budget, created on my own. That’s why (to date) both my comics have been released online for free.

Madebyai: We know how hard it can be sometimes to generate nice artwork with these new tools, how long did it take you to create all of the illustrations for your comic books?

Steve: So far I’ve created two comics of 40 pages, and each took 3-4 weeks to create. But that’s just evenings and weekends in my spare time. So maybe 50-60 hours.

Madebyai: You probably learned a couple of tips during the journey, is there anything you can share with the audience ? Maybe some of your prompts that generated these nice black and white hand drawn illustration ?

Steve: My second comic is in full color, and in the back I’ve included a couple of prompts with images so you can see how I got there.

Madebyai: I could read on Reddit that you had to use some tricks such as re using some characters’ iterations to make different characters, etc , are there other tricks you used to make the process of creating and puting together everything for this comic book easier ?

Steve: To be honest, more people ask about my prompts than my process, and I think it’s the latter that’s the key.  Like I say, I’ve written scripts and stories for work and followed the usual sequence of outline, treatment, script, production, post production, etc. But for the comics I adopted a different approach.

For EXODUS, I started with this:

“Imagine : comic book panel of a beautiful African female NASA astronaut, cinematic interstellar movie, olive-green and sepia and teal-blue Tritone print on watercolor paper –ar 2:3 –test —creative”

and did a couple hundred rolls over a few days. Then i laid out all the images and said to myself “ok what story is Midjourney trying to tell me here?” I put them into Apple keynote (without processing) to see how it flowed as a sequential narrative.  Then it was just a matter of honing in on specific images that were missing by modifying the prompt, photoshop montage work (if that was easier) and adding dialog.  I’ve found that defining a script too closely before you begin and brute forcing MJ to give you the images can be very frustrating.  Better to let the story evolve out of machine generations.  You still need to understand narrative structure, acts, characterization, subtext etc, but you’ll get the best out of Midjourney if you think of it as a collaborator rather than just a tool.

Character from the second comic book from Steve

Madebyai: What would be the scope of the next project you would try now that you did this project ? Maybe a paid comic? A short movie? Something else? 

Steve: The first two comics were developed to test the system and show off what Middjourney is capable of, so I’ll probably continue in that vein. I have a vague idea about a time travel story where each era is illustrated in the style of that era.

Madebyai: Is there something else you would like to share about AI-generated stuff?

Steve: Of any tool I’ve ever used, AI Art generation has the lowest barrier to entry and easiest learning curve. You can literally be creating amazing visuals in minutes. So my advice to anyone who hasn’t tried it is to just dive in and start.

Madebyai: Where can people find out more about you?

Steve: All my comics are on my company website:

I want to say a big thank you to Steve for sharing these insights with us, check also some of his creations that I added in the “ studies “ section.

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