Collaborating with MidJourney AI


Hey folks. Most of you know me from the POV CNC YouTube channel, where I do woodworking, teaching and generally waste time trying to keep that cat away from the microphone. I wanted to share a different sort of project with you today. This one involves canvas, spray paint, lasers and Artificial Intelligence. 

I have been working on various iterations of this project for a long time. I take a blank canvas panel (typically black) and use spray paint or brushed acrylic paint to completely cover the canvas. I am pretty random with it and have even gone so far as to create a spin art system to get the kind of initial canvas I am looking for.

Once the canvas is dry, I take it to the Glowforge laser and engrave images onto the canvas. This burns away the paint in places, and depending on the thickness or the paint and the power of the laser, it reveals the black canvas, or a deeper layer of the colors. It can make for some surprising results.

In the past, I have used stock images and fractals to engrave, but the result has never felt fully “mine.”

And then I discovered MidJourney: an AI driven creativity machine that takes a text prompt and generates unique imagery drawing from a massive amount of artwork that it has in its brain. The results are rarely exactly what you asked for, but the AI often surprises you with beauty and depths that are really amazing.

I have asked it for things like a Wooden Deathstar

“A magic door in the side of a mountain”

“When the acid kicks in”

“Neil Gaiman’s Sandman”

I have even asked it questions like, “What does the AI dream about?” I loved the results of this one so much I had it printed on aluminum.

All of these are original art, generated by the AI in collaboration with me.

The addition of MidJourney allowed me to generate and refine the images I was really looking for, as well as gifting me with any number of happy surprises: Those moments where the collaboration between me and the machine yield something unexpected and cool.

I would then take these images and run them through to Glowforge to etch on canvas. These are just some of my results.

The beauty of this project for me is that I only have a vague idea of what it will look like when finished. Sometimes the paint is thick, or layered over other colors. The laser may only cut partway through, which means shifts in color and texture can vary greatly. It’s a little like working with MidJourney itself.

I think the AI and I will be good friends. In fact, this was MidJourney’s image response to that statement: