How Does Midjourney Work? - A 5-Minute Essential Guide

Midjourney is an AI system that creates original images from text prompts. Using advanced neural networks, Midjourney interprets text descriptions and generates new artistic imagery.

But how exactly does Midjourney work its magic?

In this article, we'll explore the technology behind Midjourney and how it is able to produce such imaginative visuals from simple text inputs. We'll look at how Midjourney transforms language into images using deep learning algorithms.

Midjourney Join Interface

Introduction to Midjourney

Midjourney is an AI image-generation tool that creates visual art from text prompts. The software was developed by Midjourney, Inc., a San Francisco research lab founded by David Holz of Leap Motion.

Functioning similarly to renowned platforms like OpenAI's DALL-E and Stable Diffusion, Midjourney crafts visuals from textual descriptions, commonly termed as "prompts". Having launched its open beta phase on July 12, 2022, this innovative tool is becoming increasingly popular.

Providing Midjourney with Text Prompts

To start the image creation process, users simply type a text description of what they want Midjourney to generate. The prompts can be as vague or detailed as desired. For example, "an astronaut riding a horse on Mars" yields a whimsical digital painting.

The Result of The Text Prompts

Midjourney often performs best with more specific wording, including details like styles, colors, and composition. Shorter prompts under 25 words are recommended. The AI will follow the cues in the text as closely as its capabilities allow.

Midjourney's Underlying AI Architecture

Midjourney relies on two key AI techniques: natural language processing and generative adversarial networks.

Natural Language Processing Decodes Text Prompts

First, Midjourney uses natural language processing (NLP) to analyze the text prompts deeply. This involves breaking down sentences grammatically to extract key semantic details. The NLP model decodes the words into structured data the AI can reason with.

For the astronaut prompt, Midjourney would identify critical pieces like "astronaut," "riding," "horse," and "Mars." This allows it to focus on the key objects and actions to include in the image.

Generative AI Generates Novel Images

Next, Midjourney leverages generative adversarial networks (GANs) to actually generate images from text data.

GANs work by pitting two neural networks against each other. One creates images from input details, while the other evaluates the realism of the results. This recursive clash drives the image generation network to produce increasingly convincing images.

Midjourney's GAN scrutinizes elements like textures, lighting, and proportions to craft images that convincingly match the text prompt. The back-and-forth process results in outputs that look strikingly authentic and natural.

Training on Vast Image Databases

For Midjourney's AI to excel at rendering realistic images from text, it needs huge datasets for training. Midjourney's creators leveraged image archives from academic institutions and tech companies to train its models.

With over a billion captioned images, these datasets enabled Midjourney to learn the relationships between text descriptions and visuals. The diverse training data gives Midjourney an expansive vocabulary and broad knowledge to craft inventive images for prompts.

Generating Variety Through Sampling

One key trick that makes Midjourney's results so intriguing is its use of sampling. Instead of just one output, Midjourney's AI generates a handful of varied options per prompt.

It does this by running the text prompt through its network multiple times, using slight variations each time. The stochastic nature of the algorithms results in distinct but related images with every sample.

This allows users to pick their favorite variation or synthesize ideas from multiple samples. The sampling technique is key for stimulating Midjourney's creativity.

Refining Output through Upscaling

Midjourney's base AI architecture generates images at 256x256 pixel resolution. To sharpen detail, the system uses AI upscalers to enlarge images up to 1024x1024 pixels.

The Images of 1024x1024 Pixels

Specialized upscaling networks refine the coarse outputs through millions of neural network calculations. This enhances fine elements like hair strands, bark texture, and intricate patterns.

The upscaled renditions emerge with heightened realism and crispness, delivering the full creative potential of the text prompts.

Improving Results through User Feedback

A compelling aspect of Midjourney is its capacity to improve over time via user feedback. Users can upvote and add reaction for the samples they like best, sending signals back to the system about desired qualities.

The Add Reaction Options

The Midjourney team leverages this crowdsourced voting data to refine the AI models. The system develops an aesthetic sense tailored to what real users favor.

As more people creatively experiment with Midjourney, the collective feedback will help it generate images with a broader understanding and sharper execution.

Modifying Prompts for Better Results

With Midjourney being an imperfect AI system, users often have to try multiple prompt variations to achieve their vision. But experimentation is part of the creative process.

Adding descriptive details, style references, or composition cues can help steer Midjourney's image generation. For example, an "impressionist oil painting of a robot playing chess" yields very different results from simply "robot playing chess."

Example 1: robot playing chess

Result of Robot Playing Chess

Example 2: impressionist oil painting of a robot playing chess

result of  impressionist oil painting of a robot playing chess

Users can also take an iterative approach, using Midjourney's outputs as inspiration to modify and retry prompts. The pathway to the perfect image may take a few pleasant detours.


Midjourney demonstrates the expanding potential of AI and GANs to realize imaginative visuals from the text. While its inner workings are complex, using the tool is joyfully simple. With thoughtful prompts and an experimental mindset, anyone can unlock Midjourney's creative power.

The technology still has limitations but hints at an exciting future where AI and humans collaborate to explore boundless new visual frontiers. Midjourney is just one step on the long road ahead for AI creativity.