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Design Your Masterpiece – Outpainting with DALLE-2

DALL-E 2 outpainting allows you to take an image and add to it, making it bigger. Think of it as building a mystery puzzle of combined images.
Updated January 17, 2023
final image made with dalle-2 outpainting
final image made with dalle-2 outpainting

OpenAI just released arguably the coolest feature with DALL-E 2 yet: Outpainting! With it, you can design your dream images by uploading an image and adding "frames" to extend it. Previously, we could use DALL-E to generate something from text or upload an image and inpaint on top of it (removing parts of the picture and then adding features). Outpainting is sort of the opposite – it allows you to take an image and add to it, scaling it beyond its original dimensions. Think of it as filling in an undefined puzzle made up of combined images.

To use the new outpainting feature, you'll need to have access to DALL-E and visit the main labs page. Here, you can upload an image and begin outpainting.

📝 This is how it works: You start with an input image, then you add more frames to extend the scene. The more frames you add, the longer the scene can be. To keep things interesting, you can switch the prompt up to anything new with every frame. So if you're starting with a picture of the beach, you could keep adding frames of the beach or switch to a new scene like a mountain, or even something abstract – like adding swirls of color.

As usual with DALL-E, the results are often quite surreal and dreamlike. But that's also what makes it so fun! It's like painting your own dreamscape or designing your own world. So go ahead and give it a try. Who knows what you'll come up with! We've made a video showing some creative ways to outpaint & below we have some additional examples.

Outpainting on Existing Images with DALL-E

Let's take the picture of a tropical resort, which we used inpainting to extend a few days ago and added some things around it. Outpainting works with the same credit system as normal prompts do, with one prompt generating 4 images to be used with the outpainting frames.

original tropical resort picture inputted into dalle-2
frame builder to the left of original image for outprinting in dalle-2
frame builder to the left of original image for outprinting in dalle-2

I decided to go with a galaxy since space could fade into the image pretty seamlessly. I extended up, then left, then back down. It's a resort, right? Why not add a Tiki Hut! These are 4 different prompts stitched together starting from the bottom right.

image progression in dalle-2 outprinting process

Once this was done, I "deleted" some sky using inpainting around the top left since it was pretty empty. I added an airplane which fills in the rest of the picture:

It's truly mind blowing how impressive DALL-E can get with these images. What slips my mind sometimes is not realizing this isn't an image generator, it's an artificial intelligence image generator. What you're looking to create doesn't necessarily have to exist for it to be made. Once you get over this mental stump, the possibilities to create are endless. And that's what outpainting with DALL-E is all about: expanding your creativity and exploring new designs.

gif of the outprinting building process in dalle-2

Let's take another example. We can take a more abstract image like this one and create something that doesn't follow any sort of pattern: I decided to take this one into the wild. I went with another LED to start, followed by a squirrel running across the street, to a tiny family sitting at a picnic table (one photo turned into 6). I'd say it did a pretty amazing job given none of this makes any logical sense. I could totally see this being used to create storylines for children's books and abstract act when used for fun.

final random image created with dalle-2 outprinting

Outpainting Cons

The main negative I would point out when generating is the amount of credits I had to use to get images in the right place & matching my prompt description. Some prompts would generate an image completely different than what I was working with. I was provided complimentary credits as part of the DALL-E financial assistance program, but when these run out I could see this turning into a problem. For an image that should take 6 credits, it took me about 10. The feature is still in beta though so I'm sure plenty of bugs will be patched before this label goes away.

Limitations of Outpainting

  • Outpainting is only available on desktop at the moment, OpenAI announced they'll be rolling out certain features to smaller screens in the coming months.
  • Make sure to download your incremental work often to avoid losing anything! We've lost huge designs because we forgot to save them after a few generations. Expanded images are not currently saved automatically.
  • With large images, your browser may experience lag while downloading multiple tiles. Make sure to download often to avoid losing your work.

Is DALL-E Available to the Public?

As of September 28th, 2022, DALL-E 2 is now available for public use! Yes you read that correctly! This means anyone can visit the official DALL-E website and sign up for an account. Each account will receive 50 free credits on signup followed by 15 complimentary credits every month after. If purchasing credits would run you into a financial burden, you can apply to the artist assistance program for artists and designers.


This is huge! No more scrappy image editing to get the perfect image. With outpainting you can design your dreamscape and extend any picture beyond its original borders. How's the tool working for you? As always, we can't wait to see what you create with DALL-E! If you make something cool, be sure to share it with us on social media or in the comment section below.

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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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