Different Strokes

Robot Picasso is a Broken 3D Printer that Turns Photos into Art

Robot Picasso

Launched on Kickstarter as part of the Make 100 campaign, Robot Picasso is a modified 3D printer which converts pictures into cubist art.

An interesting 3D printing project poses the question of whether robots can be artistic. Australian maker James Novak created a custom 3D printer called Robot Picasso and launched it on Kickstarter last week.

As Novak points out in the video below, the printer was created as part of Novak’s PhD. However, for the Kickstarter Make 100 campaign he’d like to provide anyone the opportunity to have their own custom artwork created.

In order to make unique cubist art, the Robot Picasso has a set of smart generative algorithms. These can take a real photograph and turn it into an abstract drawing.

Novak explained to Digital Trends:

On paper, it’s quite simple. Email me a photo, I’ll print it out and sit it in front of Robot Picasso. It is then automatically interpreted in cubist style, and drawn on paper using a modified 3D printer.”

Check out the video below to see Novak explain his creation in detail.

Could Robot Picasso Replace Human Picasso?

Novak is working with a Solidoodle Press. You may remember this printer as the unit that caused its manufacturer to go bankrupt. But Novak puts a positive spin on things:

“It was terrible. But as a 2D plotter, it has found a new life. As the human in this team my only role is to load paper, prop photos, and manage Kickstarter. The complete process of interpreting and drawing is all automated using algorithms and code.”

Unlike the real Picasso, it takes between 30-45 minutes to create an image. Novak’s computer first processes the chosen picture and sees with a maximum of 500 lines. The file created is next converted into G-code so the printer can follow it as instructions.

The last step is to create the print. Novak has converted the printer’s extrusion nozzle in order to let it hold a pen. This is used for the drawing process.

Each image numbered, as part of the Make 100 process. It’s also signed by Robot Picasso. A quirky cubist image will set you back $57. You’re also free to buy as many as you want.

Novak added:

I hope this project appeals to people because it is fun. Watching a machine analyze an image, then draw it line by line is mesmerizing, just like 3D printing. But I also hope it shows people how an old 3D printer can still be useful, or inspire people about how they could add extra functionality to their current printer.”

Novak is hoping to have the images delivered by May. The campaign is fully funded and open for another 18 days, so if you’re interested there’s plenty of time to participate.

robot picasso