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AI in graphic design: what the present and future hold for designers

Back in 1993, the mathematician and computer scientist Dr. Vernor Vinge “predicted that computers would be so powerful by 2030 that a new form of superintelligence would emerge.”

Dr. Vinge warned that to avoid being overthrown by machine overlords, humans should learn to collaborate with artificial intelligence, working together for a new world where AI and humans live in harmony.

It might sound like science fiction, but it’s pretty sound advice for graphic designers concerned about how generative AI will shape the future of the design industry.

Some argue that art generators are already undermining creatives — partly because text-to-image models have been trained on people’s art without their permission and partly because many businesses are already working with image-generation software that negates the need for human creativity.

Whether these programs generate quality designs is another matter (they will soon enough) — the fear is that designers are losing out on job opportunities to AI.

Here at Playbook, we’re following Dr. Vinge’s advice by embracing AI graphic design tools and incorporating them into our design work. We believe AI can enhance the creative process: it can help with brainstorming, suggest color combinations, guide typography choices, and even take time-consuming tasks like image resizing off your hands.

To ease your fears and give you some ideas about how to work with AI-powered design software, let’s take a look at the role of AI in graphic design — including its uses and limitations — as well as tips and best practices for incorporating it into your work.

The role of AI in design: 6 ways it can help designers

All is not doom and gloom when it comes to using AI in your design work — in fact, there are many ways it can enhance your content creation processes, including the following:

1. Design assistance and automation

AI can assist you throughout the design process, providing suggestions, automating repetitive tasks, and predicting design trends based on data analysis.

Every designer goes through creative blocks, but AI doesn’t. So when you’re feeling a bit stuck, you can always turn to AI to unlock your creativity.

For instance, ChatGPT can make a great brainstorming partner to throw around ideas with. Generative AI can even predict how audiences might react to certain designs and help you refine them for a better response.

AI design software can also automate the manual processes you carry out every day, saving you time and precious creative energy!

2. Generative design

AI algorithms can generate design options based on the constraints and parameters you specify using prompts — allowing you to explore numerous possibilities quickly and efficiently.

It can also analyze existing designs and generate new ones that align with the overall aesthetic you’re trying to create. As well as graphic design, image generation is particularly useful in architecture, industrial design, UX design, and product design.

3. Creating variations

Once AI recognizes a pattern, it can apply that pattern to generate multiple variations in an instant. This means you can get different and better designs in a matter of seconds with just the click of a mouse and save yourself hours of work.

For example, in a project titled “Nutella Unica,” Ogilvy Italy used an algorithm to pull from a database of patterns and colors to create seven million different versions of Nutella’s packaging.

4. Image editing

AI-powered tools can analyze and edit images automatically, allowing you to enhance, retouch, or manipulate visual content with ease. You can use AI for repetitive manual tasks like scaling images while maintaining high resolution, removing backgrounds, or applying artistic styles to creative assets.

5. Font and typography design

AI can create custom typography and fonts based on specific design requirements. It can also suggest typography and font combinations based on the style or message you’re trying to convey.

6. Personalization

AI can analyze customer data and predict user behavior and preferences, then create personalized design assets that are likely to resonate with that audience, creating a more engaging user experience.

The Limitations of AI in Design

Now that you’re familiar with some of the applications of AI in graphic design, let’s see what it can’t do.

1. Understanding nuances and context

As humans, we detect and decode people’s emotions based on body language, tone of voice, context, and social cues, all of which are based on cultural and learned norms.

At the moment, AI can’t capture these intangible aspects of design that rely on the designer’s intuition and artistic sensibilities. In addition, AI may lack the ability to fully comprehend the broader context of a design project, including cultural, social, and emotional factors that can significantly influence design decisions.

2. Unbiased design suggestions

AI algorithms heavily rely on the data they’re trained on, and if that data is biased or incomplete, it can lead to biased or inaccurate design suggestions and decisions. Jacky Alciné learned this the hard way when he noticed that his Google Photos app tagged him and his friends as “gorillas.

More recently, Buzzfeed came under fire after it used the generative AI model Midjourney to create Barbies “from around the world.” Twitter exploded in a barrage of criticism, with users describing the images as “racist,” “inaccurate,” and “offensive.”

Teaching morality to machines is difficult because humans can’t objectively convey morality in measurable metrics that make it easy for a computer to  understand. Without its own moral and social consciousness, AI can only blindly accept data sets without filtering any biases.

3. Complex design tasks

Some design tasks, especially those requiring high-level conceptualization and creative problem-solving, may be challenging for AI algorithms to handle effectively.

4. Limited generalization

AI models may excel in specific design domains they were trained on but might not generalize well to entirely new or unfamiliar design tasks.

AI Tools Helping Designers Take Their Work To The Next Level

Despite the limitations of AI-powered design software, several tools are changing the game for designers. Here are some of the most popular.

1. AI art creation tools

These tools allow you to generate creative assets quickly and easily. For example, with Playbook, you can create text-to-image art using DALL-E or Stable Diffusion without leaving the platform and save them directly in your Playbook workspace.

You can also save your prompts for all imported images and organize your AI workflow in the way that works best for you.

Other generative design tools include Midjourney, which creates images based on text prompts, and Autodraw, which takes your hand-drawn input and turns it into something more polished — as you sketch,  the tool will quickly suggest images to replace your inputs.

2. Image and editing tools

You can use these AI tools to automate tasks such as image manipulation and color matching, freeing up your brain to focus on more creative and strategic work. Some examples of AI image editing tools include:

  • Luminar Neo AI, which automates common manual tasks, simplifies complexity in post-production, and saves you time in the photo editing process.
  • RemoveBG, which removes image backgrounds easily. The tool uses AI to reduce the time required for editing and post-production and picks the required pixels from extracting the subjects from its background.

3. Color palette generation tools

These tools can generate color palettes that are both visually appealing and consistent with brand guidelines, helping you create more cohesive and professional designs.

Khroma is an AI color tool that plays a significant role in the design process, particularly in color selection and consistency. Khroma generates personalized color palettes, offering infinite options based on your aesthetic preferences.

4. Logo design tools

These tools generate logo designs that are both original and visually appealing. is one example of an AI tool you can use to create unique logos in a matter of minutes.

5. User interface (UI) design tools

AI tools can be used to create wireframes, mockups, and prototypes of UIs. This can help you test and iterate on your designs more quickly and create more user-friendly interfaces.

Uizard is a great tool for designers who want to create high-quality interfaces quickly and easily. It uses machine learning algorithms to turn sketches and wireframes into polished designs (you can even digitize hand-drawn ideas into usable digital design files), with options to add animations and interactions.

Best Practices for Using AI in Design: 8 Tips and Tricks

Ready to get started working with AI design tools? Here are some tips and best practices to help you get the most out of them.

1. Understand the technology

Before incorporating AI tools into your design workflow, take some time to understand the capabilities and limitations of the AI platform you’re using. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and set appropriate expectations for outcomes.

2. Start with small projects

If you’re new to using AI in design, begin with smaller, non-critical projects — don’t jump into a full rebrand for your biggest client! Instead, play around and experiment with the technology to figure out what it can and can’t do.

Practice making logos, posters, app interfaces, or anything you like — and save all your images and prompts in Playbook for future inspiration. This will allow you to get familiar with the technology and its impact on your design process without putting important projects at risk.

3. Use AI as a tool, not a replacement

AI should complement and enhance your design process, not replace human creativity and decision-making. Use AI to automate repetitive tasks, gather insights, and aid in ideation — but always retain the human touch and your artistic vision in your designs.

4. Curate and validate data

AI tools rely on data for training and decision-making, so ensure the data you use is representative, unbiased, and validated for accuracy. As we’ve seen, biased or unreliable data can lead to biased or flawed AI-generated designs.

5. Combine AI with human expertise

Follow the advice of Dr. Vinge by encouraging collaboration between designers and AI systems.

Human designers provide creative thinking and domain expertise, while AI tools offer data-driven insights and scalable efficiency. Together, they can produce powerful design solutions.

6. Consider ethical implications

Be mindful of potential ethical issues, such as bias in AI-generated designs, copyright concerns, and privacy considerations. Address these concerns proactively to ensure the responsible use of AI in your designs.

7. Stay up-to-date with AI developments

AI technology is constantly evolving, so it’s essential to stay informed about the latest developments to make the most of new tools and techniques that could benefit your design process.

8. Educate and involve the team

If you’re working in or leading a design team, make sure everyone understands how to use AI tools effectively. Foster a learning culture, share best practices, provide training, and involve team members in the decision-making process for AI integration.

The Future of AI in Design

Given how fast AI technology is moving, it’s natural to be concerned about its possible impact on your work in the future. For example, the speed of ideas being formulated and brought to life will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen (and far beyond human capabilities) — almost like thinking something into existence.

However, designers who learn to adopt these tools into their creative processes will most likely be safe. Not only that — they’ll also be better at their jobs.

Original, human-generated creative flair, out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills will become more valuable than ever, as will the ability to use AI tools effectively.

For instance, one of the biggest limitations is the ability to effectively communicate your idea to the tool you are using through prompts. Writing prompts will become an art form in itself, requiring creative thinking to make something truly unique and memorable.

Ultimately, AI has the potential to be the tool that streamlines the design process, saves designers time, and gives clients the best end result possible.

The future of graphic design is here

AI design tools are an innovation that will continue to challenge and change the design landscape in various ways — and designers will need to adapt and keep up to stay relevant.

Looking for a place to store, organize, and share all your incredible AI artwork — including all your iterations and prompts?

Sign up for a free Playbook account and receive 4TB of lifetime storage with our Artists and Designers plan. And don’t worry — we will never sell your art to train AI generators.