Prompting Best Practices

A guide on how to write prompts that produce amazing assets.

Updated over a week ago

Prompts

Prompts are written instructions to help guide an AI model on what asset to generate. However, just like learning a new language, there’s a specific way to talk to the AI to get the results you’re looking for. You might have a specific vision in your head, but Layer can’t read your mind!

Simple Prompts

A basic prompt can be as simple as a single word or a sentence. For example, many users might try the following for their first few prompts:

A dragon
Potion
A forest environment

This is the basic building block for a prompt. But if you try using a simple prompt like this, you’ll notice that the output is highly varied, and will probably not be exactly what you’re looking for.

Prompting Tips 💡

  • Avoid Instructional prompts such as 'Create a dragon' instead you should directly write what you want it to create such as 'A dragon'.

  • Focus on what you want such as 'light room' and make sure to avoid phrases such as 'not dark room'. If you really want to remove certain parts from your generations you can use negative prompts.

  • Word choices matter, be specific in your description. For example:

    • Instead of saying "beautiful" describe what beautiful means to you.

    • Instead of saying "birds" describe how many birds.

  • Get help from the prompt generator, Layer's prompt box offers a smart prompt generator. Feel free to hit the 'magic wand' to get Layer to write you a prompt.

Advanced prompts

Once you get used to writing basic prompts you can try and start using “Magic” words to improve your prompts. Remember good prompts don’t read like whole sentences. An OK prompt might read like this:

A fire-breathing dragon blasts fire towards the ground.

This actually isn’t so bad! You can see that additional descriptions can make things more accurate. However, let’s say we really want to pump up the visual fidelity, we would write something like this:

A fire-breathing dragon blasts fire towards ground, highly detailed, grainy, realistic, unreal engine, octane render, bokeh, vray, Houdini render, quixel megascans, depth of field, 8k UHD, raytracing, dramatic

You can see that the generated results now have more focused visuals and increased quality of output. Additional “magic words” act like sweeteners and give more guidance to the model on what kind of image you’re looking for.

The words we added to our prompt here might seem like a laundry list of random words, but each one relates to a higher level of visual fidelity, even if they seem unrelated to the original prompt. For example, “highly detailed” is pretty self-explanatory, but “Houdini Render” is used because renders using the 3D art program Houdini tend to be very high fidelity (it’s used often for movies and AAA video games!).

You should adjust added words as needed to your prompts, but below are some example lists. Add the ones that feel right!

Magic words relating to:

Lighting

cinematic lighting, accent lighting, ambient lighting, backlight,

blacklight, blinding light, candlelight, concert lighting, crepuscular rays, direct sunlight, dusk, Edison bulb, electric arc, fire, fluorescent, glowing, glowing radioactively, glow-stick, lava glow, moonlight, natural lighting, neon lamp, nightclub lighting, nuclear waste glow, quantum dot display, spotlight, strobe, sunlight, ultraviolet, dramatic lighting, dark lighting, soft lighting, gloomy, foggy

Detail

highly detailed, grainy, realistic, unreal engine, octane render, bokeh, vray, houdini render, quixel megascans, depth of field (or dof), arnold render, 8k uhd, raytracing, cgi, lumen reflections, cgsociety, ultra realistic, volumetric fog, overglaze, analog photo, polaroid, 100mm, film photography, dslr, cinema4d, studio quality

Artistic techniques and materials

Digital art, digital painting, color page, featured on pixiv (for anime/manga), trending on artstation, precise line-art, tarot card, character design, concept art, symmetry, golden ratio, evocative, award winning, shiny, smooth, surreal, divine, celestial, elegant, oil painting, soft, watercolor, washed color, fascinating, fine art

Camera view and quality

ultra wide-angle, wide-angle, aerial view, GoPro, massive scale, street level view, landscape, panoramic, bokeh, fisheye, long exposure, dutch angle, low angle, extreme long-shot, medium shot, long shot, close-up, extreme close-up, cowboy shot, medium cowboy shot, full shot, medium full shot, establishing shot, upper body, full body, highly detailed, depth of field (or dof), 4k, 8k uhd, photorealistic, ultra realistic, studio quality, octane render

Style and composition

Portrait, close up shot, medium shot, headshot, birds-eye view , full body shot, frontview, backview, sideview, surrealism, trending on artstation, matte, elegant, illustration, digital paint, epic composition, beautiful, the most beautiful image ever seen

Using emphasis prompts to prioritize imagery

If your prompt starts getting long, you may see very varied results, you can emphasize or de-emphasize certain words using (parentheses) and +/- signs when forging.

Using negative prompts to get rid of unwanted details

If your generations frequently feature things you don’t like, try including them in [brackets] to refine your asset generation.


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