2023 Greatest Creators Cover Competition Winner

This industry is brimming with creative talent—both in what they do for their jobs and for themselves. To highlight the latter, every year PM360 asks for submissions of original artwork from those who work in the industry, and we pick our favorite piece to serve as the cover of our Greatest Creators section. We spoke to this year’s winner Phil Winn, Lead Art Director, Evoke MicroMass, about his piece “AI – Portrait Study #8.”

Headshot of Phil Winn who is the Lead Art Director of Evoke MicroMass.
Phil Winn, Lead Art Director, Evoke MicroMass

PM360: What was your inspiration behind this piece?

Phil Winn: I created this while generating a series of portraits using artificial intelligence text-to-image creation. I used an open-source program named Stable Diffusion, and this artwork became one of my favorite successful creations. My intention was to showcase a human portrait, convey futuristic technology, and capture the feeling that the portrait’s subject was deep in thought.

Portrait of a futuristic android with golden metallic skin against a dark background. The android has a human-like female face with a robot body. Her head is a glass sphere the contains a futuristic city in space with stars and clouds in the backdrop of the city.What was the process like using AI to create this?

The tricky part of creating art with an AI text-to-image model is prompt engineering. My AI doesn’t connect to the internet or have any of the language-learning capabilities that are becoming mainstream (thanks to ChatGPT). It requires you to be very literal with your description to have any sense of control with the generated images.

With my loose idea in mind, I began the creative process by inputting a text prompt like “Portrait of a futuristic human, deep in thought” which evolved into a much more specific prompt, somewhere around “Insanely detailed, intricate portrait of a futuristic android at sunset, golden metallic skin, on dark background, cinematic lighting, sharp focus, digital matte painting, HDR.

Creating the final artwork involved many rounds of flawed image generations and prompt tweaking until I was satisfied with the output. Finally, I did some old-fashioned manual retouching, corrections, and fine-tuning in Photoshop to achieve the end result.

How did you first get into art?

I first got into art thanks to my father. He’s been running his photography business since before I was born, so for my entire life I’ve had the opportunity to play with nice cameras. I have had a front row seat to the photography evolution, from film to digital, and I have played with Photoshop since the early 2000s. It didn’t take long to realize I had a passion for digital design, and I pursued it with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at East Carolina University.

What can you share about what you are currently working on?

Much of my free time currently is consumed planning my wedding and designing the ancillary materials that go with it—but I hope to find the time to finish an abstract marble carving this year. I also will keep up with the rapidly evolving AI art world. It’s a great source for generating reference art if I’m working on a drawing, or if I want to have machine learning attempt to replicate a specific artist’s style to help me visualize a concept.


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