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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

May 31, 2022

I love stained glass. Not so much your usual suburban house stained glass with a picture of lilies. The good stuff. Cathedral windows, Art Nouveau, Art Deco. Why did we stop doing that? I blame the conspiracy.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with small-scale alternatives. You can get custom-printed window film from these people. If you print out a picture of a stained glass scene and stick it on a window, it looks pretty realistic.

But what scenes to use? Most of the stained glass images you can find are saints, which isn’t really the mood I’m going for. What I’d really like is a giant twelve-part panel depicting the Virtues Of Rationality. But the artists I’ve asked to design this all balk. I need an artist who works for free and isn’t allowed to say no.

Enter DALL-E-2, the new art-generating AI. I’m still on the waitlist, but a friend who jumped in sooner than I did let me use their computer for a while and play around with it. This was my first introduction to the exciting world of DALL-E query framing - the surprisingly complicated relationship between what you ask the AI to do, and what it actually does. Seems on topic for this blog. So this is a combination investigation into how DALL-E thinks about queries, but also a practical guide to getting DALL-E to make good stained glass. Let’s get started.