April 07, 2016

This Fake Rembrandt Was Created By An Algorithm


The subject, brushstrokes, and colour of this painting all bear classic hallmarks of a Rembrandt. But it's actually been designed by a computer and created by a 3D printer

The work was created by teams from Dutch museums Mauritshuis and Rembranthuis, alongside Microsoft, ING and the Delft University of Technology. Creating a faithful replication of a Rembrandt painting required huge amounts of data, with the team describing it was a "marriage" between technology and art.

"There's a lot of Rembrandt data available – you have this enormous amount of technical data from all these paintings," said professor Joris Dik from Delft University of Technology. "But can we actually create something from this data that looks like Rembrandt? That's an appealing question."

With the help of several art experts, 346 Rembrandt paintings – digitised using 3D scans – were analysed by a deep learning algorithm. The algorithm isolated common Rembrandt subjects to create the "most consistent subject" – a white, middle aged man with facial hair, "wearing black clothes with a white collar and a hat".

The subject was then composed by a software system that factored in "geometry, composition and painting materials" before assembling into a face and pose. Brushstrokes were also modelled on those commonly used by Rembrandt. 

Once the painting had been generated, it was 3D-printed using a technique that was able to replicate an oil painting. 

The final painting contains over 148 million pixels and 150GB of rendered data. 

"This project shows a spark of the possibilities of intelligent data," said Microsoft's Ron Augustus. "The project brings together my true passions: the way companies can grow efficiently by the use of technology and my background in art history. It is not often that these two worlds come together."
By Emily Reynold
With many thanks to Wired UK

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