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It’s increasingly hard to get away from generative artificial intelligence at the moment, with the tech finding its way into many of the apps and devices we use regularly. Even Microsoft Paint is getting an AI upgrade.

The image editing tool, which has been a fixture in Windows since the very first version of the operating system in 1985, now includes a feature called Cocreator that is capable of generating AI images from just a few text prompts.

If you’ve been keen to dabble in AI art production, you can now use Paint to do so. Just make sure you’ve updated both Windows 11 and Paint (via the Library tab in the Microsoft Store app) to the latest versions to make sure Cocreator appears.

Getting started with Microsoft Cocreator

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

You’ve got several styles to choose from.
Credit: Lifehacker

Load up Paint on your Windows 11 machine, and you’ll find the Cocreator option on the right side of the top toolbar. This is still a preview version of the tool, so expect one or two bugs along the way. It’s powered by the DALL-E image generator—the same tech you can find in Microsoft’s other AI offerings (like Bing’s AI art generator).

The first time you load up Cocreator, you’ll have to click through a brief introduction before you can get started. The idea is the same as with most other AI image tools: You describe what the picture should show, like a path leading through a stormy wood, and you get a few image choices in return.

You can describe the type of picture you want—such as photo or something more abstract—in the text prompt, but Cocreator also offers a style drop-down menu underneath you can use to pick a particular style. Your options are Charcoal, Ink Sketch, Watercolor, Oil Painting, Digital Art, Photorealistic, Anime, and Pixel Art, so you’ve got a lot of options to play around with.

When you’re happy with your prompt and style pick, click Create. After a few moments, you’ll get three different variations to choose between: Click on any image to open it in Paint to edit it, or click the three dots on the thumbnail and choose Save image to save it to disk.

Like the AI art generation tools Microsoft makes available elsewhere in its products, each picture will cost you a credit—you’re given 50 to get started with, and (as far as we can tell from reports from other users on the web) a limited but regular allocation after that. Microsoft doesn’t officially say how many credits you get, but it’s most likely a fluid system that’s used to manage demand.

Doing more with your images

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

You can generate pictures of just about anything you like.
Credit: Lifehacker

There aren’t a huge number of options to play around with when it comes to Cocreator in Paint: It’s not possible to change the dimensions or the aspect ratio of your images, for instance, so you have to settle for the default 1,024 x 1,024 squares that the tool outputs (though you can later stretch or crop these, of course).

As with other similar image generators, more detail in your prompt often helps generate better images. If you want a particular object in the picture, the image to have a particular vibe, or to use a particular color scheme, then say so—most of the time, Paint will understand what you mean, and produce something suitable.

Bear in mind your original prompt stays in place on screen even after you’ve clicked the Create button, so you can make adjustments to it based on the results you’re seeing. However, it lacks the precision necessary to get something that’s exactly to your requirements. Human beings are still required for that. 

Remember, too, that Paint is still Paint, and you still have its image editing capabilities to take advantage of. The Pencil and Fill options on the toolbar are perhaps the most useful when it comes to editing something that Cocreator has generated. Use the color picker to the side and the Brushes drop-down to change how your scribblings look on screen.

Microsoft Paint also now supports layers, which you’re able to access through the icon to the far right of the top toolbar. Different AI images can be positioned on different layers—just select them from the sidebar on the right—giving you more ways to combine different artworks together. You can, for example, use the Eraser tool to remove part of a layer and reveal what’s on the layer underneath.

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