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Artificial Intelligence

The ultimate guide to the best image generators for content teams

by Stephanie Erbesfield  |  October 26, 2023

9 min. read
Two AI-generated images of men looking around a city with headphones on over a blue background.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: As of 2023, AI image generators have already created as many images as photographers have taken in the last 150 years. It’s a stat we use a lot (if you want to read another great article on text-to-image AI generators, check out this one by my colleague, Todd), and with good reason. It adds the emphasis we need when we say artificial intelligence is the future.

While AI can’t replace the humanity and individuality of art or speak to the human experience like human-made art does, AI is becoming a valuable tool for many content creators and marketers. It’s easy to see why – many AI image generators allow users to create work that can be safely used commercially, such as Adobe Firefly, which was developed and deployed with Adobe AI ethics principles at its core.

If you’re looking for the best AI image generator for your needs and the needs of your organization, with breakdowns of what they can do, how much they cost, where you can get the best content for your organization, and how you can store it effectively, keep reading.

But before we get to any of that, let’s get a bit technical and break down how image generators work and their benefits.

How do image generators work?

AI image generators may seem complex, but it’s simple: image generators are trained with large datasets to create a specific result. The larger the dataset, the more the tool learns and can produce a more accurate image. It can get complex with machine learning and neural networks, but it’s mostly how and on which dataset the image generator was trained. Adobe Firefly, for instance, was trained on licensed content like Adobe Stock and public domain content.

When you’re ready to create an image, you can often use natural language to describe what you’d like to see in the image. However, some AI image generators require you to learn prompt engineering, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming if you don’t have experience. The good news is any of the latest releases of AI-powered generators, like Bing Image Creator, do not require prompt engineering.

Benefits of using image generators for content production

Image generators have proven beneficial to teams across many industries, not because team members have become obsolete. With AI, content creation can improve by becoming more quickly produced, higher quality, more diverse, and creating more content to be used across many platforms.

AI image generators can fill in the gaps if members of the content production team are stretched thin—and even if they aren’t, it can help lighten the workload so your team can focus their energies on other projects that may not benefit from artificial intelligence as much or at all.

Overview of the best image generators to try

Technology is ever-changing and had you looked at a similar article from six months ago, it may have listed very different AI image generators. While we’ve played with all of these, we have some recommendations for our favorites.


AI-Generated image from Adobe Firefly of a woman sitting at a computer

Adobe Firefly

Just out of beta and available to everyone, Adobe Firefly is a generative AI image creator that can be used directly inside your favorite Adobe apps, like Photoshop or Illustrator. Firefly is trained on Adobe Stock images, openly licensed content, and public domain content, which makes it safe for commercial use.

Not only can Adobe Firefly create images, but it can also be used to create text effects, color palettes, and content using reference images.

Adobe Firefly has a free and premium plan to suit any user best:

  • The free package comes with 25 generative credits a month
  • The premium plan is $4.99 a month and comes with 100 generative credits, Adobe fonts, and no watermarks on generated images

Microsoft Bing’s Image Creator

The latest and greatest available as of October 2023, Microsoft Bing’s Image Creator is powered by DALL-E 3. DALL-E 3 is the latest from OpenAI, who you may know as the creators of ChatGPT. DALL-E 3 will be available on ChatGPT soon, but you’ll have to use Bing’s Image Creator for now. Since DALL-E 3 was created with nuance in mind, you don’t have to learn prompt engineering, and you can use more natural language than some other image creators.

There is no limit to how many images you can create with Image Creator. By signing in with your Microsoft account, you get 15 “boosted” images daily, allowing you to get more images quickly. Once those run out, an image can take up to 5 minutes to generate. You can also redeem Microsoft Rewards for more boosts.

The biggest catch? You can’t use these images for commercial purposes. Keep an eye peeled to see if OpenAI rolls out commercial use when DALL-E 3 comes to ChatGPT, since ChatGPT has a free and paid model.

DreamStudio (Stable Diffusion)

One of the first image creators I used, DreamStudio (powered by the open-source software Stable Diffusion, but more on that later), gives you a large amount of control over what images are generated and what they look like. It can get very technical and may not be great for everyone—especially if this is your first time using generative AI to make images. You can select everything from the art style to the number of images. But, some more advanced options can be hard to understand, like negative prompts, prompt strength, or generative steps. DreamStudio does have a great guide on the basics of prompt engineering; however, if you’re looking to get a feel for generative AI, it could be best to start with something simpler.

With DreamStudio, you’ll get 25 free credits, which is good for around 30 prompts that include four images each. Once you’ve used the free credits to get a feel for the software, you can purchase 1,000 credits for $10. DreamStudio, like many generative AI services, is in beta, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Honorable mentions


Midjourney is a consistent generative AI image creator that produces fantastic results, including incredibly photo-realistic art. But, despite having consistent images, Midjourney has no free option (anymore) and can only be used through their Discord, where all prompts are posted publicly.

Midjourney’s basic plan is $10 monthly for 3.3 hours of GPU time or about 200 images. And you can always buy additional GPU time.

And while you may want to use the images commercially, that depends on your company’s size and revenue. While Midjourney’s terms of service break down everything more explicitly, depending on how much your organization earns in gross revenue, you may be looking at a much pricier plan.

Stable Diffusion by Stability AI (open source)

Stable Diffusion is the open-source software that powered DreamStudio, but since it’s open source, you can get started with PCGuide’s How to Install Stable Diffusion on Windows to download it on your PC. This allows you to mold Stable Diffusion into precisely what you need but also requires high technical knowledge. Since most marketers and creatives aren’t engineers, this may not be the best option for you, unless you have additional technical support and the need to create a program that can produce exactly what you or your organization needs.

Stability also offers a Developer Platform, so you could use their API to create your own Stable Diffusion-powered AI image creator.

The challenge of storing and finding massive amounts of content from image generators

Once you’ve figured out what image generator will work best for your team and spent time garnering the best result, whether through natural language or prompt engineering, you have a whole new problem: finding and managing what you’ve created. You need a place for your new AI-generated (and human-generated) content to go, and that place must be searchable and manageable.

With the acceleration of content production thanks to generative AI, you’re likely looking at folders and folders of usable content for everything from email to social media campaigns and everything in between.

Traditional content storage might be able to hold everything you’re producing, but it’s not just about storing your digital assets; you need a way to organize them. Without a system that can help you organize, search, find, and manage, your newly created AI assets might get lost in the shuffle between everything humans and AI are creating. Having a centralized library that is accessible by your entire team is necessary when you’re creating this much content, and even more so if your team is remote or spread across the globe.

The solution to your AI content chaos? A digital asset management solution.

Images of a desert with  search and approval elements

Scale your ever-growing content library with a digital asset management solution

What’s a DAM? One of the best-kept secrets is how you can organize, manage, find, and share your files, internally and externally, whenever you need to, wherever you may be. And because of that, many organizations are ready to move from content storage like Dropbox to a specialized DAM with their needs in mind.

You shouldn’t worry about where all those images are going while scaling your creative and content operations with AI image generation. A DAM can meet the challenge of simple, effective content management while giving you the most robust and advanced search capabilities. Having a DAM in place means you’ll be able to scale successfully without losing the momentum you’re creating with image generators.

Plus, with a DAM in place, you’ll be able to manage all your digital rights for all your content regardless of who (or what) creates it. That ensures that you know when, where, and how the content was created and how it can be used so it can be used correctly every time.

Image generators can help you go to market faster, but only if you have the asset management tools in place to be able to access and use the content properly. Keep the content flowing with a DAM to best leverage your new content.

Canto, the worldwide leader in digital asset management

And if you’re looking for the best DAM on the market, look no further than Canto. Canto is the leader in digital asset management, trusted by brands worldwide, including Sony, Domino’s, Birkenstock, Rolex, and Amorepacific.

Canto is built to ensure whatever your organization needs from a DAM, they can get now and as they scale. And now you can use Canto AI Visual Search to supercharge search within your Canto library – another innovation from the best-in-class DAM on the market.

Want to learn more about how Canto and AI Visual Search can help you tame the content chaos? Book a demo with Canto.