The Instagram AI Photo Trend: How to Use Lensa AI

Want to know how to do the AI photo trend on Instagram? You've come to the right place. In this article, I'll teach you how to find and use the app that everyone's been using to get those Magic Avatars for Instagram.

The Instagram AI Photo Trend: How to Use Lensa AI

AI content is popping up all over social media these days. One of the most recent AI trends took off on Instagram at the beginning of December 2022, with users sharing vibrant, beautiful "selfies" that were actually generated by AI.

If your Instagram feed has been flooded with these AI images just like mine and you want to know how to hop on the trend, you've come to the right place. In this article, I'll show you how to post your own pics as part of the AI art trend on IG using the Lensa AI app.

What Is Lensa AI?

Lensa AI is the app that everyone's been using to create the popular AI images on Instagram.

It's a photo and video editing app that's been around for a while. They have a number of AI editing tools to help users touch up photos or edit videos with ease. Recently, they added a new feature called "Magic Avatars."

This is what people having been using for the Instagram AI trend. Similar to the AI Time Machine trend on TikTok, Magic Avatars are images created from photos of yourself that you upload to the app.

There has been some controversy online regarding Lensa AI, Magic Avatars, and AI art in general. Many people question whether using machine learning to create art by training it on visual data from real artists is ethical. There has been criticism from the artistic community about artificial intelligences being trained on artists' work without their knowledge or consent and sometimes even explicitly against their wishes.

Of course, Lensa AI isn't the only AI image generator out there that might be training their AI on questionably sourced data. Their recent surge in popularity has stirred the conversation back up again, though.

Ideally, artificial intelligence and technology in general should be used to empower creators, not steal from them. If you're feeling conflicted about this issue, I recommend looking into ways you can support artists and their content. You could, for instance, commission a portrait.

A commission costs money, that's true, but so does using Lensa AI to make Magic Avatars.

Speaking of which...

Is Lensa AI Free?

No, it isn't.

Magic Avatars is one of Lensa AI's paid features. Even if you sign up for the free trial for the app's premium subscription, you still have to pay a one-time fee to export your Magic Avatars.

Which means, yes, everyone posting their Magic Avatar/AI selfies on Instagram also paid for the privilege to do so.

Lensa AI has already changed their prices at least once since launching Magic Avatars, but at the time of writing this article, purchasing a 50-image pack costs between $4 and $8 USD, depending on whether you've signed up for the free trial or not.

two screenshots of the Lensa AI Magic Avatars check out page, one showing the prices without a subscription and one showing the prices with a subscription. The pricing tiers are as follows: 50 unique avatars for $7.99 without a subscription or $3.99 with a subscription; 100 unique avatars for $11.99 without a subscription or $5.99 with a subscription; 200 unique avatars for $15.99 without a subscription or $7.99 with a subscription.
At the time of writing, there was a sale going on; prices may be different when you read this

If you do sign up for the free trial in order to get a discount on the Magic Avatars, don't forget to cancel that subscription! Lensa AI will have your payment information and will absolutely auto-upgrade your account at the end of the 7-day trial if you forget to cancel.

Here's how to cancel your Lensa AI subscription:

Once you've downloaded your Magic Avatars and are done using any premium features, open your settings and navigate to your iCloud account settings. You'll be able to see all of your subscriptions there and cancel the Lensa AI free trial before you're charged.

Open settings > Apple ID > Subscriptions > Lensa AI Subscription > Cancel Free Trial

You can thank me later.

How to Use Lensa AI to Make Magic Avatars

Creating Magic Avatars with Lensa AI is fairly straightforward but does require attention to detail and some patience. Let's walk through it, step by step.

Step 1: Download Lensa AI from the App Store

Type "Lensa AI" into the search bar to make sure you're getting results for the correct app. It should be the top result.

Once you've downloaded and opened the app, you'll be asked to confirm that you've read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Many people have been raising concerns about how your Face Data and photos will be used. I recommend reading through the Privacy Policy thoroughly to make sure that you're comfortable with how Lensa AI intends to use your data before uploading any of your images. You can read it from this first screen or access it at any time through the Legal tab in the app's settings.

Step 2: Sign Up for the Free Trial

When you're going through the onboarding for the app the first time you open it, you'll see a screen asking you to sign up for a free trial. Hit that toggle to enable your free trial (just don't forget to unsubscribe!).

If you try to subscribe from the Magic Avatars flow, there's no mention of a free trial 🤔

I wasn't able to find a way to explicitly opt in to the free trial anywhere else after skipping it the first time around, just ways to sign up for a membership. If that happens to you and you're worried that you won't get the free trial, close out of and delete the app. Re-download it and you'll be given the option for a free trial when you open it again.

This a 1-week free trial, so either plan to cancel your subscription once you've made your avatars or set a reminder in your phone for seven days from now.

Step 3: Click "Try Now" to Start Creating Your Magic Avatars

As soon as you've confirmed your free trial, you'll be taken to a page about Magic Avatars. Click the "Try Now" button if you want to get right into it and start making your AI-generated selfies.

If you want to poke around the Lensa AI app and see what else you're getting with your free trial, hit close in the top right hand corner of the screen. You'll be able to get back to the Magic Avatars creator by going to the Photos tab in the menu bar and clicking the Magic Avatars button.

Whichever path you take to creating your Magic Avatars, the next few steps are the same.

Step 4: Read the Disclosures and Verify You're Of Age

When you open the Magic Avatars creator, the first thing you'll see is an explanation of what to expect from the AI.

What to Expect from Lensa AI's Magic Avatars

Lensa AI uses Stable Diffusion to create your images which is pretty powerful stuff, but it's not perfect. There will be a good percentage of your Magic Avatars that are weird and contain unwanted AI artefacts (visual defects, like extra limbs, wonky eyes, etc.).

From my batch of Magic Avatars, there were plenty that were what Lensa AI referred to as "good." There was no noticeable weirdness and they looked just like me. Well, like me if I were a fantasy or anime character or had had my portrait done by a talented painter.

Good examples from my trial of the Lensa app

There were also a lot of "weird" ones in the batch. Odd proportions, features that didn't look like mine, and some weird strange stuff happening with teeth and limbs and eyes.

Bad examples from my trial of the Lensa app

I noticed that it was fairly common to have something weird with the eyes in avatars that were otherwise cool or beautiful. Some of these could be an easy fix if you spent a few minutes with them in a drawing or painting app.

Since you're paying for this service, make sure you're ok with some of your results being, well, weird. You can scroll through examples of what "Good" results vs. "Weird" results look like on this page before you commit to anything.

Screenshot of "What to Expect" disclosure from the Magic Avatars creator. The text reads: "The type of AI we utilise for Magic Avatars may generate artefacts, inaccuracies, and defects in output images — it's out of our control. So please acknowledge and accept that risk before you continue. The more variations you get, the better chances for a great result!" There are Good Examples and Weird Examples (with artefacts) shown. The good examples look like colorful illustrations with no noticeable strangeness. The weird examples include women with three arms, a man with a set of sunglasses growing out of his face, a strange Ken doll like figure, and an overlapped portrait of two women's faces.

Before continuing, you'll need to check the bubble confirming that you are not a minor. Lensa AI's Terms of Use explain that the reason for the age limitation is due to the unexpected results of the AI (read: occasional AI-generated nudity). This is why you should only upload photos of adults to the Magic Avatar creator.

When you're done, hit Continue to move on to the next step.

Step 5: Upload Your Photos to the Magic Avatars Creator

Even though you're bound to get some weird Magic Avatars in your batch, if you upload the right kinds of photos, you'll increase your chances of getting plenty of good images to choose from.

Here are Lensa AI's do's and don'ts for Magic Avatar photos:

Do Upload

  • close-up selfies
  • photos of the same person
  • photos with a variety of backgrounds, facial expressions, and angles

Don't Upload

  • group shots
  • full body photographs
  • photos of children or with children in them
  • photos of animals or with animals in them
  • photos containing nudity
  • photos in which your face is covered

Keep those guidelines in your head and then hit the Select 10-20 Selfies button to start adding your photos. I actually recommend going into your photos app and choosing your photos before completing this step. Favorite them or add them to a new album.

In other words, put them all in one place where they're easy to find.

If your camera roll looks anything like mine, it'll probably take some serious scrolling to find all the images you want. It's easy to accidentally exit out of the photo selector in the Lensa AI app which kicks you out of the whole Magic Avatars process and is a real hassle.

Step 6: Select Your Gender for Your Magic Avatars

After you've chosen and imported your photos, you'll be asked to select your gender.

Currently, the only options are Female, Male, and Other. Choose the one that makes the most sense for you. This selection will affect the styles that your avatars are generated in.

Step 7: Pay for Your Magic Avatars

At this stage, you'll be asked to choose which package you'd like to pay for. I chose the 50-image package because it was the least expensive. You might want to keep in mind, though, that the more variations you purchase, the higher the likelihood that you receive "Good" Magic Avatars, instead of "Weird" ones.

This is also the stage where you'll see the price difference, depending on whether or not you signed up for the free trial of the subscription. You can sign up for the subscription from this page to get that discount, but it's unclear if you receive the free trial or not.

My price was $4 with the free trial, however I used the Magic Avatars creator while Lensa AI was running a holiday sale. The final price you see after subscription will likely vary by a couple of dollars.

No matter which pack you choose, you'll get access to the same 10 styles — you just get more images in each style with the higher priced tiers. Once you've decided which package you want, hit the Purchase button.

Now all that's left to do is wait for the AI to generate your Magic Avatars. The app will show you a screen with an estimated wait time.

You can ask the app the notify you when your images are ready or you can just close out of it and check back later. I found the estimated wait time to be fairly accurate.

Step 8: View, Download, and Share Your Magic Avatars

To view your Magic Avatars, go back to the Photos tab and click the Magic Avatars button.

If your avatars are ready to view and download, you'll see "Pack #1" at the top of the screen and an option to create more avatars at the bottom.

Click on the pack to see the gallery view of all of your different Magic Avatars.

You can scroll through all your images within the Lensa app and individually download the ones you like. There's also an option to download all the avatars at once and save them to your camera roll. Choose between standard and 4k depending on your preference (and phone's storage capacity).

Now you can share your Magic Avatars in a carousel post on Instagram or set one as your newest profile picture so you can take part in the Instagram AI photo trend, too.

For more creator tips, trends, and news, check out our Resources Library and visit our YouTube channel. We create new content every week to help creators like you keep up on trends and stay in the know.

Useful Resource: Try out Kapwing's new AI video generator to make videos with just a few clicks.

Create content faster with Kapwing's online video editor →