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Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 Released: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Author: All Your Tech AITime: 2024-03-23 15:00:00

Table of Contents

Key Improvements in Stable Diffusion XL 1.0

Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 has been released with several notable improvements over previous versions. The key upgrades include a larger 1024x1024 base model for generating higher resolution images, a powerful new refiner model to enhance image quality, and improved performance on simple prompts compared to competitors like Midjourney.

By default, SDXL 1.0 can now create images up to 1 million pixels without stretching or other artifacts. This enables a wider range of aspect ratios and sizes like vertical portraits, square crops, widescreen, and more that weren't feasible before. The new base model is also the largest open source model of its kind so far at 1.3 billion parameters.

Larger 1024x1024 Base Model

The base model in SDXL 1.0 has been trained on 1024x1024 images rather than 512x512. This quadrupling of resolution translates into the ability to natively generate larger images than prior SD versions. As long as your selected output resolution totals around 1 million pixels or less, SDXL can handle it without defects from stretching. Possible new sizes include vertical portraits in 9:16 format, square 1:1 crops, 4:5 photos, widescreen 16:9 or 21:9 cinematic frames, and more. This enables more flexibility for social media images, wall art prints, and other use cases demanding higher resolutions than SD could previously achieve.

Powerful New Refiner Model

On top of the improved base model, SDXL also introduces an additional refiner model. After the base model generates the first 70% of the image, the refiner model kicks in for the remaining 30% to enhance fine details and fidelity. This specialized model can push image quality closer to what advanced systems like Midjourney can produce. The refiner isn't powerful enough to fully generate an image on its own. But by taking a partially complete image from the base model, it can refine textures, lighting, and other elements in ways unique to SDXL 1.0.

Comparison to Midjourney

With its upgraded base model resolution and refiner capabilities, SDXL 1.0 also shows improvements in handling simple text prompts relative to previous SD versions. It can now produce quality results more on par with leading services like Midjourney while retaining SD's flexibility. For example, prompts like 'a photo of a German shepherd in an airplane seat' or 'KFC chicken burger with smoke' render cleanly without the longer prompt engineering needed before. This brings SDXL into closer competition with Midjourney and other cloud platforms.

Testing Simple and Complex Prompts

To evaluate SDXL's new abilities, testing began with both simple single-sentence prompts as well as longer detailed ones. For the simple prompts, SDXL showed it could now understand and render requests like 'a Tesla Model X' and generate nice images of the vehicle in various poses and environments.

Meanwhile, more complex prompts with additional details, styles, keywords, negative prompts, etc. also worked successfully. SDXL has retained robust support for fine-tuned guidance to direct the GAN under varied conditions.

Experimenting with Different Samplers and Settings

Beyond prompt formats, examining SDXL's output using different sampling algorithms revealed interesting insights. The Euler a sampler often yielded better lighting and detail than alternatives.

Additionally, adjusting the number of sampling steps had a major impact. Lower steps around 15 frequently led to unrealistic uniformity in textures like skin or eyes. But increasing to 100 steps introduced more realism and precision at the cost of slower generation.

Achieving More Realistic Eyes and Skin Textures

Eyes and skin were two challenging areas noticed during the experiments.Default lower sampling could leave eyes looking artificial without proper detail. But optimized settings delivered stunning photorealism in irises, matching real animals and people.

Similarly, tuning steps brought out real nuances in skin pores, wrinkles and blemishes lost in over-smoothed faces. There's a balance to find between introducing flaws while avoiding extremes, but the capacity is there with SDXL.

Potential Limitations and Drawbacks

While SDXL 1.0 moves the technology significantly forward, some limitations persist. Images over 1 million pixels can still introduce distortions or artifacts. Generation times slow down considerably at high sampling rates. And there are still examples where elements like mouths or hands can render oddly.

As an early release, subsequent updates will likely continue advancing capabilities and efficiency. But SDXL already establishes a new high mark for power and accessibility in generative image creation.


Q: What is Stable Diffusion XL?
A: Stable Diffusion XL is the largest open-sourced AI image generation model released so far, with a 1024x1024 base model and additional refiner model on top.

Q: What new capabilities does it have?
A: It can generate higher resolution images up to 1 million pixels, has a refiner for additional enhancements, and produces more realistic results from simple prompts.

Q: How does it compare to Midjourney?
A: Early tests show it can produce comparable quality and creativity from simple prompts, closing the gap with Midjourney.

Q: Does it still have any flaws?
A: There can still be some oddities like abnormalities in facial features or skin textures if sampler settings aren't optimized.

Q: What are some best practices?
A: Use higher sampler steps (50-100) and experiment with different samplers to achieve the most realistic eyes, skin, lighting, and details.

Q: What changes can I expect in future updates?
A: As training data and compute continues advancing, expect even more photorealism, creativity, and capability from fewer constraints.

Q: Is it easy to get started with?
A: Yes, it can be set up easily through tools like InvokeAI and Automatic1111 with new UI options for style and refiner controls.

Q: Can I train my own models?
A: As the largest open-sourced model so far, SDXL provides a powerful starting point for transfer learning new datasets.

Q: What legal issues are there?
A: As with all AI art generation, take care to avoid copyright issues through transforms or creating original concepts.

Q: What are the best community resources?
A: For the latest benchmarks, tips & tricks from the community check out subreddits like r/MediaSynthesis and the Stability AI Discord.