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Can You Spot Which Pictures Are AI-Generated? 17 Challenging Examples

Over the last couple months, AI detection has become prevalent for texts. But there has been little to no traction for AI image detection. How confident are you that you can identify AI images?
Updated October 25, 2023
a robot and human standing side by side in a cartoonish picture
a robot and human standing side by side in a cartoonish picture

It's honestly getting harder to identify AI-generated images. You can keep an eye out for telltale signs like bad text generation, rendering faults, and the “uncanny valley” phenomenon. However, there’s still no guarantee that you’re going to successfully pick out the one generated by AI in a line-up of photos.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

I’ve prepared 17 pairs of images just for you. One taken by actual people and the other created using AI image generators.

Can you spot which ones are fake?

How Good Are You At Spotting AI Images?

The prompts for the AI generated images are created using the “Describe” feature in Midjourney which outputs four prompts based on the original photo. From there, I used a combination of Midjourney and DALL-E 3 to create the AI images.

So, are you ready to take the test? Let’s go!

#1: The Lonely Canoe

The Canoe
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? There are several indicators of this image’s origin. If you zoom in, you can see some rendering issues on the person’s face. One of the paddles is missing a shadow. It’s also off-center vertically but not horizontally, which makes it unlikely that it’s taken by a professional photographer.

#2: The Golden Hour

The Woman During Golden Hour
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? The left eye of the woman on the right was not rendered correctly, which is often common with AI-generated images. Her face is also too smooth like it has a wax-like texture, something that’s common with close-up images from Midjourney. On the other hand, you can also see the woman on the left’s blemishes, increasing its likelihood of being a real image.

#3: Afternoon Daisies

Daisies
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The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? This one’s a lot more difficult than the previous two, but not impossible. From afar, there are no clear indicators of which one’s AI but, if you take a closer look, you can see some petals with sharp and sudden edges on the Midjourney image. It’s also more inconsistent in the blurring of the flowers.

#4: The Well-Lit Bookshelf

The Bookshelf
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? The titles of the book on the left image make no sense. This is because Midjourney and other AI image generators still can’t perfect text generation.

#5: The Woman in the Laundromat

The Woman in the Laundromat
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? The woman on the right isn’t holding her newspaper the right way. Midjourney can also sometimes go overboard with creating consistency in their images, as you can see in the orange-colored washing machines. There’s also a weird artifact on the doors of the washing machine on the AI-generated image.

#6: Singing By The Lake

Singing by the Lake
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? Well, there’s an extra hand holding the guy’s elbow. If that didn’t tip you off, I don’t know what to tell you.

#7: A Weekday

Laptop and Water
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? The most obvious sign that the one on the left is AI-generated is the keyboard. Apart from that, Midjourney tends to create consistency using color (which we’ve seen earlier in the laundromat image) and, in this case, there’s a lot of yellow in the image.

#8: Pumpkins in the Window Sill

Pumpkins
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The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? The reflections on the window don't align with the camera position. There’s also no way for the pumpkins to get wet from the rain outside the window.

#9: The Vintage Cinema

Cinema
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? This one’s the easiest one yet, considering that the left image couldn’t even spell “cinema.”

#10: Neon Lights

Neon Signs
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? Don’t let the bright lights distract you. Look at each of the signs in the AI-generated image. Notice how none of them form actual words?

#11: The Big Ben

Big Ben
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? Focus on the roman numerals signifying the hour. Most of them are correct but Midjourney had a tough time imitating the letter “V” for 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. There’s also the fact that the hour hand and minute hand are equal in length in the fake Big Ben.

#12: Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? Aside from the fact that Mona Lisa’s staring directly at the camera, the woman in the foreground also has six fingers. You can also tell that the landscape behind Mona Lisa changed drastically in the AI-generated image.

#13: An Old Man

An Old Man
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? This one’s pretty hard too. However, you can tell by the face of the old man on the left image, which is a lot smoother than it needs to be. It looks more like an oil painting than an actual image.

#14: The Dining Room

The Dining Room
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? Although there are more objects in the real image, you can’t see any rendering issues on any of them. On the other hand, it’s hard to spot but look at the leftmost chair in the Midjourney image. You can only catch a glimpse of it but it clearly doesn’t match the style of the other chairs.

#15: The Snowflake

The Snowflake
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? There’s nothing wrong with each image and, when that happens, it’s easier to figure out which is real rather than which is AI. The image on the left makes more sense to be real because of the details. It’s not about volume per se, but the quality of it despite the noisiness of the background. This is why it’s the real one.

#16: A Shortcut

A Shortcut
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the left is AI-generated.

How can you tell? It’s too perfect. The lighting, the men, the shadows. When it’s too good to be true, it often is. As I said, Midjourney tends to stylize its outputs. The one on the left looks like a movie still, which makes it likelier to be AI.

#17: Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
Click Here For The Answer

The one on the right is AI-generated.

How can you tell? It’s the fur. The dog on the left has furs that look separate from each other, while the one on the right is too perfectly groomed. If you zoom in, you can also see that the collar of the AI-generated dog blends together like it’s one object when they shouldn’t be.

How'd You Do?

If you somehow got a near-perfect score or above, congratulations!

Some of these were really tough – so you definitely have an eagle eye for AI images. 

However, if you scored 50% or lower, don’t feel bad.

With DALL-E 3 and Adobe Firefly 2, AI generators are getting better at creating lifelike images. There’s rumors of Midjourney V6 coming out before the end of the year, so expect that AI image detection is gonna get even harder when that happens.

If you want to get better, here’s my advice: the first thing to look at is the text.

That’s the one thing AI image generators can’t do really well right now. You also need to examine the edges of objects, as it’s the area where most rendering issues occur.

It’s tough to spot AI images but, once you know their pattern, it kinda becomes second nature.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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