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robot printer made of LEGO bricks can produce any pixel art using openAI's DALL-E 3

Making pixel art using a LEGO-built robot printer 

 

Sten of the YouTube channel Creative Mindstorms demonstrates his very own robot printer named Pixelbot 3000, made of LEGO bricks, that can produce pixel art with the help of OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 and AI images. Using a 32 x 32 plate and numerous round LEGO bricks, the robot printer automatically pins the pieces onto their designated positions until it forms the pixel art version of the image. He uses Python as his main programming language, and to create pixel art of anything, he employs AI, specifically OpenAI’s DALL-E 3.

 

Using this app, a cartoon-like photo of the original image is generated. Since the robot printer can only produce pixel art, it is already given that the quality of the original image isn’t going to be the same. ‘We could simply scale the image down to create a 32 x 32 image, but this actually looks horrible,’ says Sten in his video. The reason it looks bad, he says, is that scaling down takes the average color of nearby pixels to create a new pixel, making way for ‘ugly washed-out images, while we actually want the crisp colors, like you normally see in pixel art.’ From here, he made the code divide the image into a 32 x 32 grid and pick the color of the center pixel of each space.

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
all video stills courtesy of Creative Mindstorms via Youtube

 

 

OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 generates the image used for LEGO printing

 

In a YouTube video, Sten documents how he uses OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 for his project. The Netherlands-based content creator’s prompt goes ‘a quirky robot holding a sunflower,’ and Python and DALL-E 3 churn out an image that may be too detailed for the content creator’s taste. He regenerates the image, and luck is on his side as the AI gives him a pared-back version of the first one, an image that his LEGO robot printer can handle bringing to life. As soon as he feeds the image to the robot printer, the machine starts placing the LEGO bricks one by one, producing the pixel art version of the AI-generated image.

 

For a moment, Sten is stunned at how the robot printer has captured the pixelated details of the prompt-based image. ‘This took, I don’t even know, like 6 months to make. Was it worth it? Yeah! I am so pleased with how this thing turned out, and just as an extra bonus, I also made this fox,’ says Sten in the video. The fox comes out next, punctuated by a series of orange and black LEGO bricks. The result, which is not a surprise given the first try, mirrors its AI-generated counterpart, thanks to the LEGO-built robot printer.

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
Sten shows how his robot printer made of LEGO bricks can produce pixel art with openAI’s DALL-E 3

 

 

Sten of Creative Mindstorms documents printing pixel art

 

Sten adds that it took him six hours to rebuild the new plate for his LEGO robot printer. The new base gives him two main advantages. The footprint is smaller and doesn’t need the extra studs, or pieces of metal that hold parts in place, on both the front and back. It also doesn’t need one of the motors on both sides of the plate’s bed. The second advantage is that the new plate only uses one motor, which can help make printing the pixel art easier.

 

‘This (robot) machine uses two motors to move the pen in one direction, and unfortunately, the programming of these motors doesn’t really work that well. So, when you try to move them simultaneously, more often than not, they move out of sync. And with a machine that needs to place LEGO with less than millimeter precision, that’s not ideal,’ says Sten. With his new mechanism, he can easily use one motor to move the bed by simply connecting it with some gears, making sure that it can move in a straight line to place the LEGO bricks.

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
the robot printer automatically pins the pieces onto their designated positions until it forms the pixel art

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
view of the robot printer made of LEGO bricks that can produce pixel art with openAI’s DALL-E 3

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
for the project, Sten of Creative Mindstorms uses a 32 x 32 plate and numerous round LEGO bricks

robot printer LEGO pixel art openAI DALL-E 3
Sten also uses Phyton for the programming alongside OpenAI’s DALL-E 3

robot-printer-LEGO-bricks-pixelart-openAI-DALL-E-3-creative-mindstorms-designboom-ban

view of the robot printer made of LEGO bricks that can produce pixel art with openAI’s DALL-E 3

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