Midjourney needs a 'style catalog' to help solve its biggest problem — and we might be getting one soon

Midjourney logo on phone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Midjourney is a powerful platform, but it hides too many of its impressive features behind random numbers or obscure parameters. The learning curve is intense, but as it emerges out of Discord and to its own platform there is one killer feature it needs to create — a style catalog.

Currently, there are many different ways to apply style to an image in Midjourney and one of the best is referencing another image or using the –sref parameter, appending a random number.

Each number corresponds to its own style — as I demonstrated in a recent test — and with tens of thousands of potential styles, finding what works is a constant round of trial and error.

Help might be at hand though. During recent office hours on Discord, Midjourney founder David Holz said they are considering adding a style catalog to the website.

What is Style Reference?

Essentially, Style Reference defines the way the AI image generator interprets the look and feel of the image and is particularly helpful if you can’t think of a detailed or descriptive prompt idea.

Nick St Pierre, a Midjourney expert has created a style guide of his own using AI to automatically tag and label images by color, style or lighting and find related codes. The codes can then be a shortcut to replicate that style of image in the future.

One way to use Style Reference is by sharing the URL of a previously generated image. But having access to a library of what every code looks like will be a game changer for Midjourney.

Moving out of Discord

Both these images used the same prompt but different style numbers

Both these images used the same prompt but different style numbers (Image credit: Midjourney/Future AI image)

New features like a reference catalog are all part of Midjourney moving out of Discord. It has been doggedly stuck in the platform since its launch, and it was a good way for the bootstrapped company to get ahead and keep user management costs down.

It recently launched its own web interface, making it accessible to anyone who has created at least 100 images in the Discord bot. This includes the ability to customize image prompts using buttons, toggles and text input rather than parameters with more random numbers.

It isn’t clear yet how a style catalog might work but it could be in the form of a button in the prompt options, opening a new window showing different styles and allowing you to select the best one for your image idea. Right now aesthetics on the web are controlled by three sliders — stylization, weirdness and variety.

You can of course still use parameters in the web version, so if you've found a number you like just add --sref <number> to the end of your prompt like you would in Discord. But going forward it feels like applying styles may be about to get a bit more straightforward.

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Ryan Morrison
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Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?