3D printer creates identical reproductions of fine art paintings 3D printer creates identical reproductions of fine art paintings
sep 30, 2013

3D printer creates identical reproductions of fine art paintings

oce 3D printer creates identical reproductions of fine art paintings
all images courtesy of tim zaman




dutch researcher tim zaman designed and built a photographic scanning system which captures high-resolution, three-dimensional images of fine art paintings. through a data-to-print process, canon’s océ group, which specializes in large format printing, has translated the scans into identical reproductions of some of the most recognized and renowned master works. the paintings are first imaged as 3-D visualizations through a hybrid scanning system developed by zaman. using two cameras and fringe projection, which allow for unrivaled detail and speed, the process captures 40 million 3D, full color points per shot. the renderings present, in microscopic detail, the topography of the painting, exposing heaps of paint accumulated on canvases and brushstroke length and type used by the artist. zoomed-in views observed through the computer look like photographs of the surface of mars, with mountains of chroma and dense patches of texture. the images unveil stylistic approaches of master artists like van gogh and rembrandt, known for their distinct application of medium and surface.


océ 3-D fine art reproductions
video courtesy of  tim zaman / © 2013 océ (canon group)



following the scan, oce group’s high-resolution 3D printer generates precise duplications of the digital image, paralleling every minute detail, including tactual characteristics like the coarse build-up of brush stroke motions. the innovation could allow for incredible advancements in fine art restoration and conservation and could create a market for highly-accurate, low cost prints, but the technology also raises numerous questions about the increasing accessibility to replication and forgery. the idea of value will be questioned, as it becomes more and more conceivable that clones of celebrated works can be printed out, even on a mass scale.



using two cameras and fringe projection, a scan of the painting is taken and rendered



scanning ‘the jewish bride’ at the rijksmuseum



using zaman’s scanner to capture 3D images



van gogh 3-D render from the kröller-müller museum
video courtesy of tim zaman / © TU delft



a zoomed image of the sleeve of ‘the jewish bride’



high-resolution scans present, in accurate detail, brush stroke with and type



a digital scan of van gogh’s sunflowers


  • Rembrandt is misspelled in this story.

    Jim says:
  • This looks very impressive, and much better than prints, sure. I wonder how it works out in reality – I wouldn’t think you can capture the vivid colors of an oil painting well with a 3d print, let alone that ‘intangible quality’ that seems to only be there when you’re looking at a real master painting. But I hope to see this in real life sometime and be surprised. Can someone post here when there’s an exhibition?

    I’m also wondering whether the zoomed image of the sleeve is the real painting or the replica, because that would be extremely impressive!

    Ralph Zoontjens says:
  • Growing up with Sue Weaver Morningstar my mother bought her paintings when she first started out 20 or so,Sue was ahead of time with 3D Paintings. Southwest art is so historical to America and my family holds lost art including dances with wolves. I am so fascinated, I knew someone would come out with a way to capture a 3D painting. Please keep me posted, Sue died in the 90s and I would love to bring back her history with southwest art. Bob Cummings

    Robert Cummings says:
  • When will these new 3D printers be available to the public? which sizes will be able to reproduce? and + or – what will be the costs?

    Freddy Sanchez says:
  • The only valid application for this process is preservation or restoration of art. What the scans demonstrate with incredible detail is the genius of the artist who created the stacks of color to mimic light and textures. Even the most perfect copy is just that – a copy.

    Thorsten Fleiter says:
  • Clearly this tech + plugins that make bland photos into pretty convincing hand drawings could be coupled with stereo photography to create a convincing computer generated oil painting. Now being a superb photographer I could turn my photos into superb oil paintings that fool anyone (without a magnifying glass – I’m sure these computer generated paintings will look just like that after you’ve seen a few – as always) to think I’m some sort of genius. Sounds good!

    ac says:

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