Midjourney shadow box diorama

tl;dr: Midjourney came up with a cool illustration, and I turned it into a nice layered shadow box!

You might or might not have heard of Midjourney, a piece of AI software that generates – or “imagines” – graphics based on strings of words called “prompts”. I’ve been able to experiment with Midjourney for a little over a week now, I love its ability to create graphics…But what I’m really interested in is creating physical objects based on these creations!

Midjourney is really good at creating landscapes so I went ahead and asked my new AI partner to create something I could turn into a shadow box diorama…

“art déco underwater city with whales swimming past the windows, view from the inside of a building”

Me, playing around with Midjourney

And here’s what we got!

Art déco underwater city as imagined by Midjourney

By default, Midjourney will always create four pictures at a lower resolution based on your prompt. I picked a favorite, then cranked the resolution all the way up!

I loaded the picture into Inkscape and masked each layer with a different color, working from the background to the foreground:

  • the sky in the back
  • the buildings above and under the water
  • the window pane, and finally
  • the office/lounge/? in the front
Underwater city layers masked in Inkscape

At that point, I set the landscape layers aside and started building the shadow box structure itself in Fusion 360! I already knew that:

  • I was going to make this proof of concept with 1/4″/4mm cardboard
  • I wanted to be able to mount it on a wall or have it on a tabletop
  • I wanted to be able to print each layer on regular copier paper

After making a few arbitrary choices for size, I sketched a quick shadow box with slotting tabs in Fusion 360. Check it out below!

I merged the exported outlines for each element with the layers I had made in Inkscape and laser cut the outlines. After that, I glued the print for each layer carefully in place…And back into the laser we go for cutting out the excess cardboard and paper!

From there, I went ahead and painted the inside and outside of each side panel, assembled all the elements together and secured them in place with a hot glue gun…Voilà! AI-inspired shadow box diorama.

This first physical object based on Midjourney creations was really fun! Like any other diorama or book nook, it could really benefit from some sound and lighting. Another fun thing to do would be making these as big as possible, as a form of immersive art or step-and-repeat. Maybe that’ll be for another build!

The First French Astronaut on the Moon, an art print available at society6

While you wait, if you fancy some art, my wife and I have been curating a selection of prints based on our Midjourney experiments. My favorite? The piece of art above, commemorating a French space exploration mission that never happened…Find it and others on our store at society6!