Fine printing

Technology Creates New 3D Printed Rembrandt

3D Printed Rembrandt

Researchers used machine-learning algorithms to create an all new 3D Printed Rembrandt for “The Next Rembrandt” project.

Researchers went looking for the next Rembrandt, and they found him in the most unlikely of places. By combining machine-learning algorithms and 3D printing, computers have created a Rembrandt painting that even Rembrandt might have mistaken for an original.

Analyzing Rembrandt's style (Image: The Next Rembrandt)
Analyzing Rembrandt’s style (Image: The Next Rembrandt)

The Next Rembrandt project all began with a computer. Humans would digitally tag data for computers to analyze. The computers could then break down break down that data, including all 346 of Rembrandt’s paintings, into a thousand small data points. Algorithms based on this data could then churn out a painting in the exact same style.

Printing the New Rembrandt Into Reality

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The computer was asked to create a portrait of a caucasian male between the ages of 30 and 40 with facial hear, wearing black clothes, a white collar and hat, facing to the right. That image was then 3D printed into creation. More importantly, it was printed with 13 layers of UV-ink to give the texture of a real painting.

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By analyzing hundreds of different paintings, the computers could pinpoint how Rembrandt is most likely to shape the brow, or to shade, and by printing it they achieved absolute accuracy. The final portrait would contain over 148 million pixels, and require an advanced 3D printer specifically designed to recreate art. While none of the researchers believe this technology will be able to replace Rembrandt, they’re happy to better define what makes his art (and art in general) special.

“The Next Rembrandt is a fascinating exercise in connoisseurship,” says Art historian Gary Schwartz deemed. “This technique offers an opportunity to test your own ideas about his paintings in concrete, visual form.”

The two year project “The Next Rembrandt” was a collaboration between ING Bank and advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, with help from Microsoft, Delft University of Technology and Dutch art museums, Mauritshuis and Rembrandthuis. Microsoft’s Azure program was used to host and analyze the data.