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How to do the AI image trend on Instagram
If you’re a regular Instagram user, you may have seen people with unusually artistic profile images, looking as if they’ve been painted or drawn. Most of these people aren’t commissioning art — we’ll explain what’s really going in the guide below, and how you can get in on the action if reality isn’t enough.
Use tools like Lensa, NightCafe, or TikTok filters to generate AI images, then upload one as your profile picture. Some tools, including Lensa, cost a fee.
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What is the AI image trend on Instagram?
To cut to the chase, it’s people taking advantage of generative AI apps to enhance or stylize their profile pictures. Whereas most AI image generators create purely synthetic content based on prompts, some of the images you see on Instagram use real selfie photos as their source material, so they should at least partly resemble the people who use them.
It’s worth mentioning here that selfie-based generators depend on well-lit, close-up photos with uncovered faces, and the better the source material, the better the output will be. You may end up taking new photos to make them work, in which case there might not be much reason to turn to AI. There’s also a chance that you won’t like the way AI stylizes you, even if the output is visually acceptable.
On a psychological level, there’s a risk that AI images can lead to a distorted body image. They depict an idealized or exaggerated version of ourselves that we can never achieve, so bear that in mind with your own avatar, or the ones you see online.
How to do the AI image trend on Instagram
The app of choice for AI images on Instagram seems to be Lensa, and it’ll cost you to generate profile pictures, even if you sign up for a trial subscription —they’ll just cost less than the normal price. We mention the app here because of popularity and convenience. If you want to save cash, it’s absolutely worth hunting down free options (such as a few listed below).
Here’s how to use Lensa to make images for Instagram:
- Download Lensa from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and launch it.
- Agree to any terms and conditions, and choose to continue through prompts until you reach the subscription promo screen.
- You should see a 7-Day Free Trial toggle appear. Flip this on, but remember to cancel your subscription before those 7 days are over. Having a subscription lowers the price of AI profile pictures, which Lensa developer Prisma refers to as “Magic Avatars.”
- Once you close the subscription screen, you should be hit with an option to make Magic Avatars. Tap Try Now.
- You’ll have an option to create avatars for humans or pets (just dogs and cats). Under Humans, tap Create.
- Choose up to 10 styles you want to use. These can change, but some examples might include “Art,” “Adventure,” and “Fantasy.”
- When prompted, choose to upload 10 to 20 photos from your phone’s library. You may have to grant library permissions first.
- Once you’ve select enough photos, tap Import when the button appears.
- You’ll be taken to a checkout screen with options to buy different quantities of avatars. Be conservative, since there’s no guarantee you’ll like the results.
- Once you’ve paid, tap Notify me when it’s done. Magic Avatars are processed on cloud servers, and the task can take upwards of 20 minutes, so this will tell you when you can come back to the app to get your results.
- When you return to the app, tap Magic Avatars to see your image packs. Since this is your first time using Lensa, there should only be one.
- Within a pack, you’ll get a Save all avatars option, as well as the ability to save individual images. We recommend the latter to control storage. Either way, saved files should be dumped into your phone’s photo library. You may want to organize them into an album for later use.
- Switch to Instagram, and upload a new profile image as you usually would.
The best AI image generators for Instagram
If you want images based on selfie photos, your options are relatively limited, but alternatives to Lensa exist.
- Meitu: This one is free, although its developer tries to upsell you on purchases for things like filters, makeup, and correction tools. Its AI images can be hit-or-miss, so you get what you pay for.
- NightCafe: NightCafe requires you to sign up to its community, and it guards more advanced features behind daily credits, but remains free to use. You can even choose between different algorithms (say, DALL-E or Stable Diffusion).
- MyHeritage: This one is paid, but offers the twist of depicting you in different eras — say, Victorian England, the Space Age, or ancient Egypt. Some images can be surprisingly realistic if they’re linked to an era when photography existed.
- TikTok filters: TikTok filters like AI Manga, AI Portrait, and AI Face offer limited ways of transforming yourself, but the zero-dollar price is right.