Computer Creates & Paints A New ‘Rembrandt’


A computer has created a new Rembrandt-style portrait from scratch using an algorithm and a 3D printer.

It’s the conclusion of a two year project titled The Next Rembrandt, produced with the help of two art museums in the Netherlands, a technology university, ING and Microsoft.

The first step in the project was to scan 346 genuine Rembrandt pictures and analyze them pixel by pixel. This included breaking down the demographics and appearance of the subjects, leading to the conclusion that the most common was “a Caucasian male with facial hair, between the ages of thirty and forty, wearing black clothes with a white collar and a hat, facing to the right.”

The project went on to use facial recognition and other analysis of the pictures to learn key points about Rembrandt’s distinctive style, including the way he would light particular areas and emphasize the detail there, leaving other parts much softer. The resulting algorithm also took into account the proportion and placement of facial features in a typical Rembrandt, something that was likely as much his personal style and influence as it was an accurate reflection of the genuine faces he painted.

After a computer used this data to create an appropriate image from scratch, the staff used a 3D printer to “paint” the picture with paint-based UV ink. The 13 layer process recreated the effects of both the type of canvas Rembrandt worked and the thickness of paint layers created by his personal brush stroke style.

The completed painting will go on public display but the details aren’t yet confirmed.

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