How to Use AI to make Stunning Medical Illustrations


AI generated image of a typewriter spelling out "AI" from bone tissue

AI Art, Medical Images Generated from Text, Midjourney vs. Stable Diffusion vs. Dall-E 2

Learn how to use artificial intelligence to automate the creation of medical illustrations, anatomically correct images of anatomy, pathology and surgical treatments.

Stephan Kuslich painted

by Stephan Kuslich

Computers have been used to assist in the creation of medical illustrations for years. Automation tools like automatic tweening can make medical animations much faster to produce. Even basic features like UNDO can save artists a lot of time and effort. However, these tools still require a skilled artist to use them properly to create anything of value.

We’ve all been told that AI will eventually take all our jobs. However, most of us have considered our careers safe from this threat, as they require creative thinking that computers cannot yet provide. I’ve been working in the field of computer graphics for over 3 decades and have seen few examples of software being able to create anything remotely creative without human intervention. That is until just very recently.

A Graph that compares Image Automation Tools

Nearly every phone and free photo app features some form of Auto-Retouching that can remove blemishes and balance even the worst exposure problems. 

Fans of Adobe Photoshop have collectively saved millions of hours of manual image tracing using the notorious Magic Wand Tool to remove unwanted elements from photos in a single click. Power users can direct Photoshop to greater feats of automation using the Actions and Batch Automator to process thousands of images as fast as their computers can crunch the pixels. 

2D and 3D animation software has made the painstaking process of drawing thousands of frames of images just to produce a couple of minutes to a process of setting a few key frames and letting the computer fill in the stuff between.

Even this chart was made using AI simply by typing the prompt: “hand drawn graph of Moore’s Law” – Icons were created with the prompts, “3D isometric hand sketched photoshop tool icons” and “3D isometric icon representing automated content creation” – Text was added manually in Photoshop

I’ve now tested several new AI image generators that create completely original works of art from words, and the results have been surprising. Even though it’s not perfect, it is much more functional than I thought it would ever be in my lifetime. Depending on the words you use to describe the image, you might get exactly what you’d expect, or you could be completely confused by the generator’s interpretation. .

The results of AI art generators can be surprising.

What would you expect when you ask for, “a map of human anatomy?

I often get art back from medical illustrators that doesn’t capture what I was hoping to see. Both human illustrators and AI might need a few tries to get it right, but the difference is that AI can deliver a completely different set of color images in just a minute or two, while human artists might need a day or two to make revisions. Also, AI image generators are so much cheaper than human artists that they might as well be considered free. This low cost and high speed allows directors to try things with AI that they’d never even consider attempting with a human illustrator.

Create a significant volume of concept art in very little time

With nothing more that a few carefully chosen words, AI was able to create this collection of orthopedic pathologies in 30 minutes.

Even the most experienced illustrators can become frustrated when they see no end to the tweaks and alterations, especially when they can tell that a director is just trying out different concepts.. I’ve watched veteran artists revert into colicky babies when asked to make revisions to details they don’t fully understand. AI doesn’t care about any of that. For directors who want to visualize produce a wide range of client samples, AI won’t stop until the director stops

The three leading AI image generators are Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and Dall-E 2. Below is an example of the output of each rendering various art of a micro-biology image
Test Prompt
Stable Diffusion AI
Dall-E 2

Escherichia virus T4

Escherichia Virus
Escherichia virus T4 - created by stable diffusion AI image generator
Escherichia Virus

Escherichia virus T4, perspective, FOV

Escherichia virus T4, perspective, FOV, Midjourney
Stable Diffusion AI image generated photo of Escherichia Virus FOV
Escherichia Virus, FOV

Escherichia virus T4, Green Color

Escherichia virus T4, green color, Midjourney
AI image made by stable diffusion of Stable Diffusion Prompt: Escherichia Virus, Green
Green Escherichia Virus

Escherichia virus T4, doodle drawing

virus doodle drawing
Doodle of Escherichia Virus

Escherichia virus T4, Pencil Sketch

Sketch of a virus Escherichia
Pencil Sketch of Escherichia Virus

Escherichia virus T4, Oil Painting

Escherichia Oil Painting
Escherichia virus oil paint

Escherichia virus T4, 35mm Photo

Escherichia virus T4 - created by stable diffusion AI image generator with prompt, "photorealistic"
Escherichia Virus photo-realistic

Escherichia virus T4, Octane Render

Escherichia Octane render
Escherichia Virus Octane Render

Escherichia virus T4, Mental Ray Render

Escherichia Virus Mental Ray Render
Escherichia Virus MentalRay Rendered

Escherichia virus T4, In the Style of Pixar

Escherichia Virus made by Pixar
Escherichia Virus in the Style of Pixar

Escherichia virus T4, in the Style of Dreamworks

Stable Diffusion AI image of Escherichia Virus, in the style of dreamworks
Escherichia in the style of Dreamworks

Escherichia virus T4, Drawn by M.C. Escher

Escherichia Virus drawn by M.C. Escher
Escherichia Virus drawn by M.C. Escher

Escherichia virus T4, Drawn by Andy Warhol

Escherichia Virus drawn by Andy Warhol
Escherichia Virus drawn by Andy Warhol
Escherichia Virus drawn by Andy Warhol

Even the Best AI Image Generators have Limitations
Characters from the Terminator movie discuss dangers of AI
Hands and fingers are particularly challenging for AI Image Generators to create.
AI Image generators often attempt to create esoteric images over literal images

Tying to get AI to create an image that depicts CPR is more challenging than you might imagine
We’ve found Midjourney to be the most versatile of all the leading AI image generators. Learn more about using Midjourney to make medical graphics.
AI generated image of a patient getting brain surgery
Midjourney Prompt: surgical procedure, Acrylic Paint


Stephan Kuslich painted

Stephan Kuslich

Company Founder / Head of Wraith-VR Department

“I can’t tell if I’m good at making great software because I know what makes software great, or I’m just so annoyed by bad software that I am unable to allow it to exist.”


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