AI Image Generators Can’t Make a Simple White Background

AI white backdrop
Attempting (and failing) to make a plain white background on Midjourney.

Artificial intelligence has amazed and terrified in equal measure but there’s one seemingly simple task that it can’t do: make a white background.

Despite being able to generate complex images, a request for a “simple white background” dumbfounds the leading AI image generators which find it impossible to follow.

White backdrop on DALL-E
I asked DALL-E 3 to “Make a plain white background, 16:9” and got an image of a white mountain instead.
Midjourney White Background
Inputting the same request into Midjourney generated a lot of white but it was definitely not plain.

Photographers and creatives who work with image editing software will often require an image that is a plain, singular color; often white. This blindspot in AI software was first flagged by research colleague and data scientist Cody Nash who made multiple attempts at AI-generating a plain white image but to no avail.

#FFFFFF pixel image Midjourney
After asking DALL-E for “pure #FFFFFF pixels” it insisted, wrongly, it had already fulfilled that task. When asking Midjourney, I got an extremely colorful image (above). Not what I wanted.

“The goal was to see if AI could create a white painting. Not just a pure white image, but something that is the result of some inspiration, idea, or concept,” Nash tells BleepingComputer.

Nash tested out other colors too, asking for a “completely black background”, but he again has issues with the text-to-image models which added abstract shapes and textures into the image.

DALL-E white background
The prompt here was “A completely white background with every pixel being #FFFFFF”. But DALL-E somehow added a mountain and even a flock of birds.

People’s understanding of what AI can and can’t do is constantly evolving but then so is the technology itself which is persistently adding more parameters and more abilities. A recent PetaPixel experiment saw iconic photographs easily recreated with AI.

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” adds Nash. “With AI, it is robbery. It is a good thing AI is getting creative early on, so when they are given orders to destroy, there’s a chance they’ll say no. It is not the art I was looking for, but art was found anyway.”