Picture-Perfect on a Budget: Best Free AI Image Generators for 2024

Review and compare the most popular free, budget friendly AI image generators. Which platform gives the most realistic results? Which is more creative?

In the era of the AI revolution, taking advantage of the growing interest in AI tools, numerous platforms for generating images have appeared. While Midjourney is the most known one, its cost factor may not align with everyone’s budget. On the other hand, Stable Diffusion, the second most popular platform, demands technical skills and substantial computer resources. 

However, the fast progression of current development indicates that getting high-quality AI-generated images doesn’t have to be costly. User-friendly, web-based platforms are becoming more widespread. A lot of these platforms are either free or have a budget-friendly monthly fee. Some of them may even surpass the capabilities of the most well-known brands in the field.

best and affordable ai image generators for 2024

In this post, we will review the most popular free and affordable AI image generators and compare between them based on different factors.

Leonardo.ai

Leonardo.ai * is probably among today’s most popular and highly regarded free AI generators. It is an online platform that uses a powerful stable diffusion engine and custom models to generate remarkable images across various styles.
leonardo ai top ai image generator
Features:
Leonardo provides diverse options for generating images. You can start by describing what you want in the textual prompt and select one of the fine-tuned models designed for specific art styles. There’s an option to upload a collection of images, allowing users to train a custom model and then generate images in the style of the uploaded set. There’s also a massive library of images generated by other users that you can use for inspiration or as a guide for writing the right prompts. In a newly added Live Canvas mode, you can combine doodles and textual descriptions to have more control over the generation. You can also upload your image as a base or use pictures from the example library to kick-start your creativity. It’s all about making image creation an easy and fun process! 
Leonardo functions under a freemium model and provides users with a free plan that can be upgraded as per their needs. Users on Leonardo’s free plan can generate numerous images. The free plan includes 150 free generation credits per day. A generated image costs between 1 to 3 credits depending on the size and the selected model. That may total to around 3000 free generations each month. This approach ensures that users on the free plan can explore and utilize most of the features offered by Leonardo. With that said, it is important to note that some of the high-end generation models are not available with the free plan.
leonardo ai platform pricing
…….

Ideogram.ai

Ideogram is a relatively new and extremely powerful free web-based AI generator. One of its distinctive features is its capability to generate images containing text. Unlike many AI image generators that struggle with producing text, Ideogram excels at seamlessly integrating text into visually pleasing images. This makes it an excellent pick for those looking to create appealing Logos, T-shirt art, and other print-on-demand designs.
ideogram ai image generator that also creates text
Features:
As of now, Ideogram operates on a mostly free model, allowing users to generate images without any additional costs. However, the generated images will be showcased in the public library. To keep the generated images private, one of the subscription plans should be purchased. The free plan allows you to generate 100 images each day. Premium plans allow more generations, and the Plus plan offers unlimited generations. All the pre-made styles are available on the free plan and that helps achieve stunning results even before going premium. 
ideogram ai generation pricing options

Playground.com

Playground stands out as another freemium online AI image generator, offering a versatile range of features. Like other top free web-based AI generators, Playground AI showcases an extensive reference library, providing users with a wealth of inspiration and creative resources. The platform offers an option to generate over-painted parts of images, providing users with enhanced control over the final results. 
playground ai image generator
Features:
Playground AI currently provides a generous free plan that allows users to generate up to 500 images per day. However, this free plan comes with several limitations, restricting users from fully exploring all the features that the premium platform has to offer.
playground ai image generator pricing

SeaArt.AI

Another web-based AI image generator with a free plan that includes 150 daily image generations. Seaart.ai distinguishes itself by offering a bunch of advanced features like face swap, model training, and more.
seaart ai image generator
Features:
seaart ai image generator free features

Bing Creator

Bing recently introduced their free image generator. You need a Microsoft user to access it. Powered by dalle-3 technology, this generator produces quite impressive images.
bing creator ai image generator
Bing Creator does not come with any settings or pre-made models. It currently does not offer an image-to-image generator. Right now, it only uses textual prompts to create images.
Features:

Adobe Firefly

Adobe Firefly * is Adobe’s dedicated AI platform. It showcases various AI features and also gives a sneak peek at features that are currently in development and should be available soon. The platform excels in generating images based on text, crafting AI textual effects, and more. Users can access Adobe Firefly with a free or premium plan. It is also part of the Creative Cloud subscription that includes all Adobe Creative apps.
adobe firefly ai image generator
Features:

Adobe Photoshop

Unlike other online platforms listed in this post, Adobe Photoshop * is neither web-based nor free. It’s a premium professional tool for digital painting and photo editing, and it comes with a monthly subscription. Despite the cost, many people already use it for photo editing or digital illustration, and if you’re one of them, the AI feature is free for you. With the help of Photoshop AI, you can generate new images, select parts of existing images, and generate over them and the generated parts will seamlessly match the rest of the image. The image generator does not currently come with generation models and settings, but it is a constantly developing software.
adobe photoshop ai image generator
AI Features in Adobe Photoshop:

Comparison

Factors to consider when deciding which AI generator to use:

We will now try to generate images in different styles to see how well each of the above AI image generates performs for each category.

Photorealistic Portraits

Portrait of a young, beautiful European woman with glasses and long brown hair, huge earrings, wearing a black leather jacket, smiling, Photorealistic, highly detailed.

female portrait leonardo image generation

Leonardo

female portrait ideogram image generation

Ideogram

female portrait playground image generation

Playground

female portrait seaart image generation

Seaart

female portrait bing image generation

Bing

female portrait adobe firefly image generation

Adobe Firefly

female portrait photoshop image generation

Adobe Photoshop

Portrait of a young beautiful European woman

female portrait basic prompt leonardo ai image generation

Leonardo

female portrait basic prompt ideogram image generation

Ideogram

female portrait basic prompt playground image generation

Playground

female portrait basic prompt seaart image generation

Seaart

female portrait basic prompt bing image generation

Bing

female portrait basic prompt adobe firefly image generation

Adobe Firefly

female portrait basic prompt adobe photoshop ai image generation

Adobe Photoshop

Realistic Landscapes

Summer forest, mountains, faraway village and a beautiful lake mirroring the surroundings, realistic, hyper detailed, HD quality, 8k, photorealistic.

female landscape leonardo image generation

Leonardo

female landscape ideogram image generation

Ideogram

female landscape playground image generation

Playground

female landscape seaart image generation

Seaart

landscape bing image generation

Bing

female landscape adobe firefly image generation

Adobe Firefly

landscape photoshop image generation

Adobe Photoshop

Beautiful landscape with a lake

short prompt landscape leonardo image generation

Leonardo

short prompt landscape ideogram ai image generation

Ideogram

short prompt landscape playground ai image generation

Playground

short prompt landscape seaart ai image generation

Seaart

short prompt landscape bing image generation

Bing

short prompt landscape adobe firefly ai image generation

Adobe Firefly

short prompt landscape photoshop ai image generation

Adobe Photoshop

Illustration

Illustration of a busy city street, vibrant colors, detailed scene, sunny day, soft and defined lines, balanced yet dynamic, soft natural lighting.

city illustration leonardo image generation

Leonardo

city illustration ideogram image generation

Ideogram

city illustration playground image generation

Playground

city illustration seaart image generation

Seaart

city illustration bing image generation

Bing

city illustration adobe firefly image generation

Adobe Firefly

city illustration photoshop image generation

Adobe Photoshop

3D Render

Cute cartoon rabbit soldier walking, desert background, 8K, cinematic, unreal engine render.

How accurately the generator follows the prompt?
cartoon soldier rabbit leonardo image generation

Leonardo

cartoon soldier rabbit ideogram image generation

Ideogram

cartoon soldier rabbit playground image generation

Playground

cartoon soldier rabbit seaart image generation

Seaart

cartoon soldier rabbit bing ai image generation

Bing

cartoon soldier rabbit adobe firefly image generation

Adobe Firefly

cartoon soldier rabbit photoshop image generation

Adobe Photoshop

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T-Shirt Art

Face of a cartoon dog flat illustration t-shirt design with a white background saying "Don't worry, be happy" in the style of "splash art".

t shirt design leonardo ai image generation

Leonardo

t shirt design ideogram ai image generation

Ideogram

t shirt design playground ai image generation

Playground

Seaart

t shirt design seaart ai image generation
t shirt design bing ai image generation

Bing

t shirt design adobe firefly ai image generation

Adobe Firefly

t shirt design adobe photoshop ai image generation

Adobe Photoshop

How Well the Generators Follow the Prompts?
For long and detailed prompts, most of the tested AI image generators followed the instructions well, showing all the specified details in the generated images. However, the Seeart generator had a few misses, and some details, like the village in the landscape, were not generated accurately.
a checklist or a pencil following a trail of wri
When it comes to attention to detail, how do different AI image generators differ in their output quality?
In every generated image, Ideogram showcased an exceptional level of detail, with sharp and abundant elements, resulting in highly believable and impressive visuals.
How interesting are the results when using a brief prompt without specific details?
All the generators were creative enough and did a decent job coming up with the details in the pictures, although those were not specifically stated in the prompt. 
Realism?
Seaart, Adobe Firefly, and Ideogram provided the most realistic results. It is important to mention that the realism filter in Leonardo.ai was not available for the free plan and therefore the images on the Leonardo platform were generated using other models. That affected the amount of realism that could be achieved in the generated results.
background ai generated using differnt styles
How does the style diversity vary among different AI generators?
Each of the mentioned generators can create images in various artistic styles. However, some platforms stand out with pre-built models fine-tuned to produce art in specific styles, even without detailed prompts. Ideogram, Adobe Firefly, and Leonardo excel in this aspect. Playground and Seeart also provide styles and models. Photoshop and Bing lack the option to select pre-made generation models.
Which generators offer the capability to use a base image as a prompt?
Leonardo, Playground, and Seeart platforms feature image-to-image options. Leonardo takes the lead with its advanced live canvas feature, providing users with the maximum control over the generated results.
Which generators are more user friendly and which are more complicated?
Which generators stand out for their ability to generate images quickly?
All the platforms mentioned are quite user-friendly for image generation. Bing stands out as the simplest, requiring only a textual prompt. But that also means no control over the generation. Ideogram comes next, providing simplicity with straightforward controls and the option to run with just a prompt entry. Despite Photoshop’s overall complexity, image generation is simple. Just select an area and use a text prompt. For regular Photoshop users, this might be the easiest AI-wise. But once again, that comes with nothing besides textual control over the generation. Adobe Firefly does come with styles and some controls and still is user-friendly enough. Playground, Seeart, and Leonardo are user-friendly but may seem overwhelming due to their relatively busy interfaces.
During the comparison test, there was no significant difference in the time it took to generate images on the mentioned platforms. On Seeart we experienced occasional pauses.  Also it’s important to note that we conducted the testing using the initial boosts provided with the free plans. Given that the boost amount in Bing is relatively small, it’s anticipated that image generations may take longer when the boost amount expires.

Our Pick

In comparing the outcomes from the seven AI image generators, Ideogram consistently delivered the most impressive, detailed, and realistic images across various styles and prompts. Surprisingly, Ideogram’s performance stands out despite its relatively recent launch in August 2023, but this might be less surprising considering former Google researchers developed it.

Conclusion

There’s a constant improvement in AI image generation platforms, with new ones appearing regularly. Since a lot of them are free, you can try one, and if it doesn’t give you the results you want, try another. You can keep going back and forth until you get what you like. One thing’s for sure, creativity is no longer limited by technological barriers.
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