Use These Apps to Stop AI From Stealing Your Art



The recent revelation that Midjourney AI’s founders actively compiled stolen art to train the art generation tool is but the latest evidence of the unethical nature of GenAI art. But while legal and legislative cases are mounting against these AI tools, artists are left to fend for themselves until regulations are put in place protecting their work from being used to train AI models without proper permissions, attribution, and compensation. For a while, it seemed the only method of prevention was to simply not post your art online—a poor solution for artists who use social media and online portfolios to find clients. 

Now, though, researchers at the University of Chicago have released two free desktop apps for Windows and Mac that not only make it impossible for an AI model to read an image or use it to generate content, but which actively harm these models if they try to. 

The first, Glaze, adds digital “noise” to an image that makes it unreadable by GenAI art tools like Midjourney. The added noise is minimal—at worst, you might see some minor grain or artifacting, similar to what happens when you upload an image to Instagram or X (aka Twitter). The tool has already seen major improvements in minimizing the visual effects already, and it’s safe to assume image clarity will continue improving as the team further iterates on the app.

The second tool, Nightshade, seeds the image with “poisoned” data that can confuse an AI model if it tries to use it. While some GenAI advocates argue this could be “illegal”—akin to spreading malware—it’s actually closer to copyright protection measures that other forms of media use to prevent piracy, like the Digital Rights Management (DRM) publishers often place on an ebook. 

two images of the same digital illustration of a girl covered in white flowers. Image on right is unglazed, image on right is glazed with minor compression noticeable on the girl's face.

Example of Glaze noise artifacts. Screenshot via University of Chicago, original illustration by Jingha Zhang Credit: https://glaze.cs.uchicago.edu/what-is-glaze.html

Either of these apps is an effective defense against multiple AI tools, including Midjounrey, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E, and so far no attempts to break or bypass Glaze and Nightshade have been successful. The effects remain intact even if you screenshot a “glazed” or “poisoned” image, or apply smoothing, sharpening, or blur filters in an attempt to “remove” the noise artifacts.

In other words, Glaze and Nightshade make it safe to post and share your art without fear someone will use it to generate AI art based on your original works. The only tradeoffs are the extra time needed to perform the poisoning and glazing processes, and the aforementioned minor potential compression grain.

You can read more about how Glaze and Nightshade work on the University of Chicago’s official Glaze website. As for those who want to start using the tools on their own art, let’s go over how to set up Glaze and Nightshade.

Download Glaze and Nightshade (or use WebGlaze)

Glaze and Nightshade are both large, resource-intensive programs, and running them locally on your PC will require some beefy hardware. So the first step is to figure out if your computer can run it. You may also need to download additional software for the apps to work on your machine, depending on your system’s specs. 

Windows Glaze and Nightshade system requirements

  • Windows 11/10

  • An Nvidia GPU with at least 3.6GB of processing power (check this list of GPUs for compatible models. We have a guide for seeing which GPU your PC has if you don’t know)

  • Nvidia CUDA Toolkit installed

  • 4GB of storage space

Note: There are non-GPU Windows versions that may work on other PCs that don’t have the proper Nvidia GPU, provided your CPU is powerful enough.

Mac system requirements

Glaze:

  • Apple M1/M2 processor (Apple silicon version)

  • MacOS 13 (Intel CPU version)

  • 4GB of free storage space

Nightshade:

  • Apple M1/M2/M3 processor

  • 4GB free storage space

If your computer’s specs meet the requirements, you can download Glaze here, and Nightshade here. They’re large files, so the download will take some time. Jump to the next section when you’re ready to set up the programs.

Use WebGlaze if your computer can’t handle the apps

If your computer doesn’t match those specs, fear not: There is a browser-based version of Glaze called WebGlaze that uses cloud computing instead of your PC hardware. It works on any browser app on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android. However, you need to request access and create an account before you can use WebGlaze, so it’s not immediately available to everyone. You will also need to prove that you’re a real artist by submitting process photos or time-lapses of your artwork, along with other requirements.

That might seem like overkill, but it’s to ensure that only real artists are using WebGlaze, and it’s worth going through the hassle if you can’t run Glaze on your computer or are intimidated by the installation and setup process. Note that there isn’t a web-based version of Nightshade yet, but Glazing your art is the more important step. You can request access to WebGlaze here.

How to set up Nightshade and Glaze

Once you have Nightshade and Glaze downloaded to your computer, the next step is setting them up (WebGlaze users can skip this section):

  1. If you’re using the Windows GPU version, make sure you download and install the Nvidia CUDA Toolkit first.

  2. Unzip the Nightshade and Glaze download files using a program like 7Zip.

  3. Open Glaze. The program will download the necessary files both Glaze and Nightshade need to process your images.

  4. Wait for the download to complete. Once it’s done, you can start using both programs.

Hoe to Use Nightshade to poison your image (optional)

Now that everything is set up, you can now use the Nightshade and Glaze apps. Export the final version of the image you wish to glaze and “poison.” Do any last-minute edits, crops, or resizing before using Nightshade and Glaze. When you’re ready, start with Nightshade. Technically, “poisoning” your image with Nightshade is optional. You can skip this step if you’re not using Nightshade or if you’re using WebGlaze. However, Nightshade should always be used before Glazing.

  1. Open Nightshade

  2. Click “Select…” then open your image.

  3. Choose your desired intensity. A higher intensity will have a stronger effect against the AI, but will also result in more visual changes to the image.

  4. Adjust the render quality. Higher settings will result in better poisoning, but longer processing time. 

  5. Add or change the poison tag. Select one word that describes the main subject of the image. It’s important to pick just one tag that accurately labels the image (check the official Nightshade user guide for more information).

  6. Click “Run” to perform the process.

  7. Once it’s done, you can move on to the Glazing step.

Protect your images with Glaze

screenshot of Glaze windows app

Credit: Screenshot by Brendan Hesse

Finally, it’s time to glaze your image. These steps work for all versions of Glaze, including WebGlaze. As mentioned above, Glazing should always be the final step in your process. Only do this when your final image is edited and exported, and (optionally) after you poisoned the image with Nightshade if you choose to. Be sure to check the official Glaze user guide if you run into any bugs or errors.

  1. Open Glaze.

  2. Click “Select…” and choose the image you want to glaze.

  3. Use the slider to select your desired Glaze intensity. Higher intensity will result in stronger protection but more noticeable noise and artifacting.

  4. Select your desired render quality. Higher settings will make the protection stronger, but will take longer to process.

  5. Click “Save As…” to select where your image will be exported.

  6. Click “Run Glaze” then wait for the image to render.

  7. Once the process is complete, you can now safely upload your glazed image online.

Source

Leave a Comment

l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk l1nk