Adobe Firefly vs Runway Gen-2: Generative AI Review 2023

Once upon a time in a not-so-distant past if you needed an image for something you had to go out with a camera and take it.

The advent of Google images and stock image sites changed all this, and now, generative AI image generation has changed the game again.

Adobe Fiefly and Runway Gen-2 are two of the leading generative AI tools available, and in this article, I’ll take a closer look to see which is the superior product.

Note: Some Runway products are still classed as Gen-1. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to all Runway tools as ‘Gen-2’.

What is Adobe Firefly?

Adobe Firefly Stock Design and Logo

Adobe Firefly is the new kid on the block, but that’s not to say it’s any less innovative or impressive than its predecessors.

Firefly is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and can be used in Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and other tools.

Adobe Firefly can generate images, modify existing images, modify aspect ratios with an image extension, and more.

Firefly has quickly climbed the ranks as one of the best AI image-generation tools and for good reason.

What is Runway Gen-2?

Runway Gen-2 Logo and Picture

Runway Gen-2 offers an entire suite of generative AI tools in one place and is in the best Firefly alternatives offered to the public.

Gen-2 caught the internet’s attention for its text-to-video functionality and also offers a range of image-generation tools.

Gen-2 is rapidly progressing in both function and quality, making it a worthy contender to face any of the generative AI tools available.

How Do Firefly and Gen-2 Work?

The technology that powers these tools is really quite cool!

The fundamental underlying tech that powers AI image generators is something called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN).

Two neural networks work together, a generator creates images from the text input, and a discriminator tries to tell if those images are real or fake.

If the image created by the generator looks similar to the real images the discriminator was trained with, it passes, and that’s what we see.

The networks operate in a feedback loop and improve over time.

Image illustrating how GANs work showcasing a generator and discriminator neural network
Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) where random noise is a user input.

Software Features

Ok, now let’s consider Firefly vs. Gen-2 regarding their generative AI functionality and capabilities.

A number of things need to be considered including quality, capability, and useability.

Both tools offer a range of features with varying levels of quality making Firefly better for some users, and Gen-2 better for others.

Here are the features worth considering.


Text-to-image tools use text input from the user known as a prompt to generate an image.

AI Image Generators should be able to generate realistic images based on minimal prompting effort from the user.

Most AI image generators can generate cartoon-style images with ease, but it’s the photorealistic images that sets them apart.

Things to watch out for include the accurate generation of hands, eyes, ears, and limbs in general. As well as the general layout of the image.

Firefly and Gen-2 can both generate realistic images, but both still struggle with creating an image that is indistinguishable from a real photograph.

Text-to-image comparison of Firefly and Gen-2. Prompt: A photograph of a lady engaged in an intense workout
Text-to-image examples (left: Adobe Firefly, right: Runway Gen-2).

Prompt: A photograph of a lady engaged in an intense workout, natural lighting shot with a Canon EOS R5

Notice the hands in the Firefly-generated image, the right hand has 6 fingers. The Gen-2 image doesn’t show hands but you can see the shoulders aren’t quite right.

Another thing I noticed is Firefly’s images offered a bit more variety compared to Gen-2, possibly indicating a larger training dataset.


Image-to-image allows the modification of an existing image uploaded by the user.

Most AI image tools now allow the user to add and remove objects to the image.

Adobe Firefly and Runway Gen-2 offer a generative fill and an add/remove function respectively.

Using the generative fill and add/remove functions I gave the lady in the image a beanie.

Example of Generative Fill using Adobe Firefly
Example of Generative Fill using Adobe Firefly – adding a beanie.

Both tools also offer background removal and replacement.

Example of background replacement using Runway Gen-2
Example of Background Replacement Using Runway Gen-2.

Both did a good job with this task but I think Firefly wins this round.

Text + Image-to-Image

Text + image-to-image allows the user to upload an image and then modify the image with a text prompt.

Firefly doesn’t currently offer this functionality.

I modified our sample image to have a New York background and got the following:

Image-to-image example using Runway Gen-2
Image-to-Image Example Using Runway Gen-2.

Not the greatest results but like everything it will get better with time!

Image Extension

Image extension allows the user to extend an image, effectively changing the aspect ratio.

Judging a good image extension tool is pretty simple, just look for seamless extensions that can’t easily be identified as AI-generated content!

Both Firefly and Gen-2 can extend images effectively adding AI-generated content and changing the image’s aspect ratio.

Using Gen-2 I took the following image and changed the aspect ratio from 1:1 to 16:9.

A beach - sample image
Sample Image.
Image extension example using A beach sample image
Image Extension Using Runway Gen-2.

The main difference between Firefly and Gen-2 here is that Gen-2 produces an entirely new image while Firefly adds to the existing image. In my opinion, I think this makes Firefly a better option for this purpose.


Text-to-video does as the name suggests and takes user input and creates or modifies existing video.

Firefly and Gen-2 have taken different approaches to their video tools.

Gen-2 offers text-to-video and a number of video editing features while Firefly has a heavier focus on modifying existing video within Premiere Pro.

Gen-2 is most well known for its text-to-video functionality. It can also interpolate frames to create super slow-motion video, it allows motion tracking, video background removal, and more.

Runway Gen-2 Text-to-Video Showcase.

When used in Premiere Pro (Adobe video editing software), Firefly can generate background music and sound effects from text input, change scene color grading, automatically find a b-roll, and most impressively generate animated storyboards from text input.

Adobe Firefly Generative AI Video Feature Showcase

Currently, I think Gen-2 is leading in pure video generation functionality but Firefly is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Features Unique To Firefly

Some features unique to Firefly include text effects – which allow you to apply styles of textures to text using a text prompt, 3D model-to-image – which allows you to generate images from 3D models based on text input, and vector art functionality.

Text effects in Firefly example
Firefly Text Effects Example (prompt: lava on fire).

Features Unique to Gen-2

Gen-2 offers a range of unique features including 3D texturing, video motion tracking, video face blurring, the ability to train your own text-to-image model to create personalized avatars, and a range of audio tools to name a few.

User Interface

Using generative AI tools can be intimidating at first and the user interface can make all the difference.

Both Firefly and Gen-2 offer a user-friendly environment that the vast majority of internet users should be able to navigate with ease.

Firefly Graphical User Interface
Firefly Graphical User Interface – Home Menu.
Gen-2 Graphical User Interface
Gen-2 Graphical User Interface – Home Menu.

While I couldn’t find a lot of information on the training data used for Gen-2, I do know that Adobe is focusing heavily on responsible AI development and ethical training of their AI image generator.

The images used for training Firefly were from the Adobe stock image range as well as images with an expired copyright license.

Firefly users should have no concerns with copyright issues but should still always adhere to Adobe’s copyright guidelines.


An important thing to consider when using an AI image generator is how well you can modify a prompt or an image generation.

Both Firefly and Gen-2 offer a good number of features allowing the user to further customize the image to suit their needs.

These include things like aspect ratio, image style, prompt weighting, mood, lighting, and so on.

Who Should Use Firefly and Gen-2?

Short Answer: Anyone and Everyone!

These tools can be used by anyone looking to spark creativity, save time, save money, easily visualize concepts, create custom content, and more. I’ve even seen them used to generate original NFT projects!

The best part about these tools is how easily accessible and user-friendly they are. The learning curve you’ll have to go through before generating high-quality content is minimal with these tools!


Firefly comes free with an Adobe Photoshop subscription at $20.99 USD a month and offers a 7-day free trial. Also, you can currently use Firefly for FREE in your web browser by creating an account here.

Adobe Photoshop Pricing
Adobe Photoshop Pricing.

Runway Gen-2 offers 125 free credits for image and video generation when you make an account. The credits are enough to do a fair few generations and test if you like the product. From there Runway offers a reasonably priced subscription model.

Runway Gen-2 Pricing Scheme

Wrapping-Up: Adobe Firefly vs Runway Gen2

In this article, we took a closer look at Adobe Firefly and Runway Gen-2, 2 of the leading generative AI tools on the market.

Both products have unique selling points but all-in-all, they’re both highly capable and powerful tools.

For existing users of Adobe Photoshop, Firefly is a no-brainer as it comes free with your existing subscription.

For users looking to create AI video content, or leverage some of the other Gen-2 capabilities, then Gen-2 would be the best choice.

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