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Experience for yourself whether DALL-E 3 in ChatGPT has the ability to read and modify images

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I’ve been exploring the use of DALL-E 3 inside of ChatGPT Plus. I’m doing this because it’s my job, not because I have some kind of unhealthy addiction. I can stop at any time.

We have arrived at that time in the future when an AI says the precise equivalent of, “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” But not today. Today, I found a new toy. DALL-E 3 inside of ChatGPT can read and modify images. Sort of. You see, it’s a bit fussy. But let’s start this story at the beginning…

I’ve been using Midjourney to customize uploaded images for a while. The problem is that it’s very convoluted. You have to run Midjourney in Discord, and then go through a number of steps to upload an image into Discord. In ChatGPT Plus, you simply have to click on the paperclip icon and upload your image. One and done. That makes it a lot easier to use, and also a lot more fun. But how well does it work?

To test it out, I tried three images: a picture of my car, a picture of me, and the ZDNET logo. Let’s look at the results.

My car

Here’s a picture of my car, a 2013 Dodge Challenger.

My car

Once the image was uploaded, I instructed DALL-E 3: Put car in city. The results were promising.

Car in city

Then, because I have a definite steampunk fascination, I asked DALL-E to: Make it steampunk. Here’s what we got. It still retained the overall body style of the Dodge Challenger:

Steampunk car

One thing to note is that I couldn’t get DALL-E to do too many iterations without failure. Every two or three requests (and never more than four), I got this message:

DALL-E error

My workaround was to take the last successfully created image and upload it into a new ChatGPT Plus session, and work from that.

So, I uploaded the last image, the steampunk version of my car, and told DALL-E to: Make the car fly. Here’s what I got back. The representation of my original car was gone, and we got back a very cool Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-style vehicle, in the air:

Flying car

My next attempt was to try to put Santa in the driver’s seat. Here, I ran into a rather over-zealous guardrail, with ChatGPT telling me, “I’m sorry, but I can’t assist with that request.”

As you can see, the reasoning was a bit bizarre. But it seemed to hinge on the fact that I was asking it to modify an uploaded picture. So I gave it the above prompts as a single request. I got this:

Santa in car

DALL-E with ChatGPT essentially rewrites every prompt into a more detailed instruction. I grabbed portions of the descriptive material from both “make it steampunk” and “make the car fly” and combined them for this prompt:

Put car in city. Make it steampunk. Make the car fly. Put Santa in the driver’s seat. Here’s what I got back:

Steampunk city with car

After tinkering with this DALL-E feature, I think we can conclude the following: And there you go. Have you uploaded images to DALL-E? How has it done for you?

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack, and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at, on Instagram at, and on YouTube at

Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.


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