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Midjourney Review: Vibrant, Occasionally Wonky AI Images for Discord Users

6.0/ 10

Midjourney AI


  • Engaging, vivid images
  • Built-in Discord community


  • Paid-only service
  • Inconsistently matches prompts

If you’re on Discord, you’ve likely heard the Midjourney AI image generator. It’s the most popular server on the platform, with 19.9 million members as of April 2024. Which makes sense, since the only way to create Midjourney’s fun, detailed images is through Discord.

Midjourney describes itself as “a bit like the early internet.” The Discord server is your doorway into using Midjourney, where you use the chat to send commands. Your images are automatically public in its online gallery, and you can chat with other Midjourney users in its many channels. While Midjourney’s barebones operating system is reminiscent of the “ugly but semi-functional” days of the early internet, the images it creates are anything but. Midjourney AI images are engaging and vibrant, even when they’re wonky.

There’s a learning curve to Midjourney, and it may feel overwhelming when you first sign up. But once you’ve got a hang of the basics, Midjourney is a handy, creative tool that can hold its own against competitors such as Dall-E 3 and Adobe Firefly. 

How CNET reviews AI image generators

CNET takes a practical approach to reviewing AI image generators. Our goal is to determine how good it is relative to the competition and which purposes it serves best. To do that, we give the AI prompts based on real-world use cases, such as rendering in a particular style, combining elements into a single image and handling lengthier descriptions. We score the image generators on a 10-point scale that considers factors such as how well images match prompts, creativity of results and response speed. See how we test AI for more.

Midjourney can use your personal information to train its machine learning algorithms, according to its privacy policy. Midjourney can also share your personal information with third-party vendors, service providers, consultants and other business partners. Unless you’re creating in stealth mode, which is paywalled to its most expensive plans, all the images you create in Midjourney are automatically public and accessible online.

How good are the images, and how well do they match prompts?

Midjourney AI-generated images ranged from immediately impressive to an immediate disaster. I generated over 100 images during my testing, and Midjourney matched my prompts inconsistently. Sometimes it would get even the smallest details I included and other times it went way off book.

To get the best images, you’ll need to practice good prompt engineering, which is true for all AI services but especially for Midjourney. At a minimum, I would recommend adding a dimension parameter and specifying the style you want in your initial prompt. You can also add a reference image URL to your prompt — for example, I created a cartoon version of my CNET headshot by adding the URL to my prompt instead of having to describe every detail of my appearance. 

One of the best tools Midjourney has is the Blend tool. Upload any images you want, and Midjourney will combine their styles and objects to create some cool mash-ups. Again, it’s a great way to give Midjourney more specific guidance about what you’re looking for without having to write a long prompt. Adding images and extra parameters to my prompts helped lead Midjourney closer to what I wanted.

I used the Blend tool to create this image rather than writing a novel for my prompt. You can upload your own photos to the Blend tool for truly unique results.

Created by Katelyn Chedraoui using Midjourney AI

Even when your prompts are perfectly customized, Midjourney isn’t immune to the oddities and flaws that trouble other AI image generators. Hands, teeth, animals and overlapping objects proved challenging for Midjourney to render correctly at times, even after multiple rounds of edits. The end results were often worth it, but it was a frustrating experience at times.

How engaging are the images?

Even though they aren’t always quite right, Midjourney images are fun, detailed and vivid. Midjourney leans into bold color palettes and fantastical, whimsical aesthetics. The images might not be right or fully aligned with your prompt, but they are bold.

This is how I imagine a dark-haired Taylor Swift as she wrote “So Long, London.” I got this really beautiful image with a simple prompt and a couple of clicks to upscale it.

Created by Katelyn Chedraoui using Midjourney AI

Can you fine-tune results?

Midjourney gives you a set of buttons to refine your images. You can upscale (meaning edit) individual images from your original batch by using the “U” buttons. The “V” buttons create four new variations based on the image you select and are great for guiding the AI toward a particular aesthetic or look. The individual upscaling tools aren’t as precise as I would’ve liked but can be used to edit out weird quirks or expand an image. The Vary (region) button is especially useful because it lets you select certain areas in images and edit your prompt accordingly. But don’t be surprised if you still don’t get the edits you want — they’re annoyingly imprecise tools.

While the edited version (right) is definitely better than whatever’s happening in the original (left), there are still weird quirks, floating arms and scary vampire teeth.

Created by Katelyn Chedraoui using Midjourney AI

You do run the risk of making images weirder or worse with Midjourney’s upscaling tools. If you’re flexible with what you’re picturing as your end result, you should be OK. Otherwise, starting over with a new and improved prompt is better than wasting time with the fine-tuning tools.

How fast do images arrive?

Midjourney claims it can generate images in under 60 seconds. And if you’re working in Fast mode, that’s usually true. But if you don’t want to upgrade from the basic plan or if you run out of Fast time, you’ll have to run all your image prompts in Relax mode, which can take longer. For example, my requests in Fast mode were generated in a minute, but a subsequent request in Relax mode took five minutes. That isn’t long for high-quality images, but it was long enough for me to get bored and start scrolling on my phone. If you don’t want to pay to speed up your results, be prepared to wait a bit.

Midjourney is great, but inconsistent

Midjourney produced high-quality images. They were just inconsistent. Sometimes I got great images that were exactly what I wanted (or easily edited to be so) and other times, quirks, flaws and other AI oddities rendered images useless. I got better at mitigating and managing those as I learned Midjourney’s system but that took a lot of time, research and testing.

If I had to pick one thing that sets Midjourney apart, it would be its community-oriented focus. Since many images are made public, the online public showcase is great for sparking inspiration and understanding how to write effective prompts. In the Discord server, you can participate in daily theme challenges and join discussions. No other AI image generator has this dedicated space on its platform, and it’s nice to see an AI creator tool prioritize that human connection.

Overall, Midjourney is probably worth it, especially if you’re a more seasoned AI creator. But you have to get over a pretty high barrier to entry first, by joining on Discord, paying and then investing a good chunk of time in learning.

CNET is using an AI engine to help create a handful of stories. Reviews of AI products like this, just like CNET’s other hands-on reviews, are written by our human team of in-house experts. For more, see CNET’s AI policy and how we test AI.

How do I use Midjourney AI?

Midjourney is currently only available on Discord, the popular messaging and voice chat service. So if you don’t already have a Discord account, creating one is your first step in using Midjourney. (My Discord guide can guide you through that process quickly).

You can sign up using your Discord login info on Midjourney’s website or you can join the Midjourney server on Discord. The Midjourney server is recognizable from its ship icon. Once you sign in and join the server, Midjourney will automatically walk you through the subscription process. You have to sign up for a paid plan before you can start generating images.

Midjourney will nudge you to create in one of its newbie channels, but those can get pretty busy. Instead, I found creating images using a direct message with the Midjourney bot more pleasant, but you should still check out the other server channels. Use the command /imagine to pull up the prompt box, and you’ll be set to start creating images.

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Can I use Midjourney for free?

Unfortunately, Midjourney is a paid-only program, so you’ll need to subscribe to one of its paid plans before you can start generating images. Plans range from $10 per month to $120 per month, but you’ll get a 20% discount if you pay upfront for an annual subscription.

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What are the different Midjourney plans?

Midjourney offers four paid tiers, Basic ($10/month), Standard ($30/month), Pro ($60) and Mega ($120/month). When weighing price, the most important metric you should consider is the amount of Fast generation time each plan offers. Fast generation time refers to your ability to generate images quickly using Midjourney’s GPUs. Every time you ask Midjourney to generate an image, you’re buying time on the service’s processing systems. When you use Fast mode, you get your images pretty quickly. If you want to generate a lot of images, you might want to invest in a plan with a higher monthly allotment of Fast generation time. 

Once you run out of Fast time, your requests are automatically processed in Relaxed mode, which is slower and places your requests in a queue organized by user activity. Annoyingly, you’re likely to get images faster in Relax mode if you use the service occasionally rather than frequently, which feels like a sneaky way to push regular users to upgrade their subscriptions, instead of rewarding loyal users. 

Note that any images you create will live in a public online gallery. If you want to keep your images private, you’ll need to create them in stealth mode, which is only available in the more expensive Pro ($60 per month) and Mega ($120 per month) subscription tiers.

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