Generative AI Image Generation for Engineers: A Short Adobe Firefly Tutorial

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One of the most useful types of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) tools to bubble to the top of so many options is image generation. There are several fantastic free and a growing number of paid solutions for turning text into an image or filling in a portion of an existing picture with something new. I played with a few and have settled on Adobe Firefly as a perfect fit for business. At least for now — this technology is changing fast.

I’ve been using it for a while now to help create pictures for everything from internal emails to presentations to pictures for posts on this blog. Here are a couple of examples:

After using it for a while now, I thought it was time to put a quick tutorial together to help other engineers get started.

Before we get started, I want to make something clear: This is not a post for experts in AI or graphic artists. This is for people who want to occasionally create an image for work.

NOTE: As mentioned above, this technology is changing fast. The tutorial was written in June 2024, so it should be valid for six months or so, but be warned that some things may move around and there will certainly be more options soon.

Why Adobe Firefly for Business GenAI Image Generation?

There are lots of great tools out there for converting text into an image. Some may be better at that part. I’ve chosen Adobe Firefly because it is built into the Adobe workflow. This allows you to store the images on the platform, easily move them into Adobe Express for quick modifications and editions, or fully edit them in Adobe Photoshop.

Also, I have a full license to Adobe Creative Cloud, which comes with access to Adobe Firefly with no watermarks or restrictions. Right now, it runs on the web using Adobe’s extensive cloud resources, which are optimized for graphics. Like most services, it uses a “token” type of licensing. They call them credits and right now you get 1000 per month, which will allow you to create 1000 pictures or fills.

A Short Adobe Firefly Tutorial: Aerospace Technology

For this tutorial, we will pretend we are making a PowerPoint for a presentation on using Ansys for Aerospace Applications.

1. Start up Adobe Firefly

If you have the Adobe suite, go to Creative Cloud (https://www.adobe.com/home) online or start up the desktop app. If you want to try the free version, then go to https://www.adobe.com/products/firefly.html and click “Get Firefly free.” You should now be at an input field asking you to describe what you want to generate.

2. Get Started with a Simple Prompt

A great place to start is to just type in what you want:

an image showing the aerospace industry

With the defaults, you will get four square images:

padt adobe firefly tutorial 1 f01

Most of the time, the first image is pretty close. But there are a lot of options. Your images will look different. Every time you run the program, it randomizes the source material so you get different compositions each time.

3. Refine the Prompt

Let’s try and make it more specific by telling it what type of aerospace products we want to see:

an image showing the aerospace industry. Show a fighter jet, a commercial jet, a satellite and a rocket
padt adobe firefly tutorial f08

Don’t worry about the fact that it switched to photo style, we will play with that later. You will notice that it stuck some solar panels in the pics it gave me. It turns out the request for “aerospace industry” is driving the panels. So remove that.

image

It is struggling with the satellite and merging things. So you need to tell it that you want them seperate.

Show an image of a rocket. Place a fighter plane next to the rocket. Place a satellite next to the fighter plane. Place a commercial jet over all three
padt adobe firefly tutorial f09

Right now, the algorithm is struggling with two types of aircraft, so it is actually better to just do the three objects:

Show an image of a rocket. Place a fighter plane next to the rocket. Place a satellite next to the fighter plane.
padt adobe firefly tutorial f10

This is good enough to move on to setting the style. One thing to avoid is spending way too much time tweaking. Get close and then start styling.

4. Change the Settings to Get the Image You Want

Over on the left side of the screen you will see lots of settings. I like to start by changing the Aspect Ratio to 16:9.

Next, for this project I want to go with drawings, not photos. So, set the Content Type to “Art.”

Let’s see what those changes accomplish:

padt adobe firefly tutorial f11

Because the image isn’t all that realistic, we want to move down effects and make it obvious that this is symbolic and not realistic.

I find that “Digital art” often works well. Find that under effects, click it, and then click Generate.

padt adobe firefly tutorial f12

It is still looking off from what I want, so I will add the “Comic Book” effect and see what that does.

padt adobe firefly tutorial f13

Play around with the options and see what you get. It can take a while but once you have made a few dozen images, you get a feel for what you want.

For this project, I ended up going a completely different direction and picked “Wireframe.”

padt adobe firefly tutorial f14

The upper right is pretty close to what I want. But it put a balloon in there. So I hit generate a few more times.

padt adobe firefly tutorial f15

The upper left came out well. I’m going to go with that one. Click on the image you want to use, and you will see a couple of options: Edit, Rating, Download, Favorite, and Store. I always click Download first, so I have a copy.

padt adobe firefly tutorial f16

5. Refining the Design and Edit

Click on Edit and choose Generate Similar. After a couple of tries, you might get something better. If you do find something better, use that. Either way, once you are happy, it’s time to go into Adobe Express to add some text. Click on Edit and then Add Text.

Once in Adobe Express:

  • Type in “Generative AI in Aerospace.” Put the first two words on the top line, then the last two on the second line.
  • Set the font to Heebo (or whatever style you want) and bold
  • Set the text layout to “Dyanamic” If you do that, it handles the fonts
  • Drag a corner to get the size you want.
  • Scroll down to Shadow, click it, pick Glow, and set the color to white.
padt adobe firefly tutorial f17

There are a ton more options in Adobe Express, but this is an Adobe Firefly tutorial. You can also download the image and edit it in Adobe Photoshop or in the graphics tool of your choice

Suggested Next Steps for Integrating Adobe Firefly Into Your Workflow

This was just the start of what this tool and related GenAI capabilities in Adobe can do. In fact, another feature I use a lot is Generative Fill in Adobe Photoshop. Here is an example of one of Oryx Additive’s products with different backgrounds created with Generative Fill. The first used the prompt “Inside of a Factory,” and the other was “Colorful Background.”

padt adobe firefly tutorial f19
padt adobe firefly tutorial f20

The best advice I can give is to just keep using the tool whenever you get a chance. It is one of those things that gets easier with usage. Also, spend some time with the Adobe documentation. Here are a few that I find useful:

After you have spent some time with these tools, I will bet good money that your biggest problem is how addicting using it will become. Say no to stock images and generate your own.

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