Ghost of Rembrandt: AI taught to paint like master Dutch artist (VIDEO)

© The Next Rembrandt
A team of data experts claim they have digitally coded the genius of legendary Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn to create an almost flawless 3D printed portrait ‘by’ the centuries dead painter.

A combined project by Microsoft, the Rembrandt House Museum, advertising firm J Walter Thompson Amsterdam, and strangely, ING Bank has yielded a 148 million pixel portrait generated by a computer.

Developers of The Next Rembrandt say a series of complex algorithms were used to extract the key features of Rembrandt’s work.

Given the companies involved, the project smacks of an advertising stunt, but the resulting printed image does raise interesting questions about the quality of future forgeries.

Under the project, all 346 Rembrandt paintings were analyzed using 3D scans to pinpoint common techniques and themes used by the 17th century artist.

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“The first step was to study the works of Rembrandt in order to create an extensive database,” explains Emmanuel Flores, director of technology at J Walter Thompson Amsterdam.

“We gathered the data from his collection of paintings from many different sources, including 3D scans and upscaled images using a deep learning algorithm.”

By studying the age, gender, head direction, and facial features of Rembrandt’s subjects, the researchers were able to determine specific elements of the new painting.

The data suggested a portrait of a caucasian male, aged between 30-40 years, with facial hair, wearing dark clothes and a hat, and facing to the right.

Brushstrokes and portrait proportions by The Nightwatch painter were also mimicked through software developed at the Delft University of Technology.

The modern-day ‘masterpiece’ was then digitally produced by a 3D printer, which coated a canvas with 13 layers of UV-ink to give it a Rembrandt-like texture.

“You could say that we used technology and data like Rembrandt used his paints and his brushes to create something new,” suggests Ron Augustus of Microsoft.

The finished piece is due to go on public display in Amsterdam having been officially unveiled on Tuesday.