A Masterpiece, But Our Maestro Is A CNC Machine

Sometimes we manage to miss projects when they first appear, only to have the joy of discovering them a while later. So it is with [John Opsahl]’s Project Convert To Paint, a CNC painting ‘bot that takes a bitmap image and paints it on canvas as a fine artist would, with a real brush, and paints.

It was first created for the 2017 robotart.org competition, and takes the form of a fairly standard CNC gantry machine. It departs from the norm in its chuck however, as it has what is described as a universal artist chuck, capable of holding a variety of artistic implements. The images are converted from bitmap to vector format, and thence to gcode with the help of a bit of custom Python code.

He’s at pains to say that simply because an image can be converted to a paintable format does not mean that it will produce a good picture. But some of the results are rather impressive, delivering anything from a pointilist effect to a broader brush stroke. We can see that with a bit of experience in the processing it would be possible to create a veritable gallery of masterpieces.

We may have missed this one the first time, but we did catch another drawbot from the same competition.

12 thoughts on “A Masterpiece, But Our Maestro Is A CNC Machine

  1. I have a machine that does a similar thing in that it lays down a pattern of pigment embedded in resin based on an image, it is called a colour laser printer. It produces images or reproductions, it does not produce fine art.

      1. Unlike a printer, this has fantastic potential for more vector based art. However, this video shows it producing raster images, and pretty inefficiently.
        I’ve never seen art made like this outside of the CNC art world. Yes, pointillism is a style, but it’s not done like this.
        This machine has much potential for more interesting and artistic work – especially with that interesting chuck – but this video isn’t showing its potential.

  2. This is a very interesting project! Based on the pictures, I couldn’t tell that the paintings weren’t made by a human.

    And thanks for mentioning robotart.org; I had no idea that the site existed!

  3. Great project!

    I wonder how difficult it would be to make a brush with a built in dispenser so you wouldn’t have to keep going back to dip the brush. I’m thinking maybe a hollow tube with the bristles on one end and a servo actuated syringe or something on the other end.

    1. I have seen calligraphy pens that use a brush instead of a nib. Depending how close you are to the surface, you get a line of variable thickness.
      Old plotters carried multiple pens, for each colour and line width. You would still need multiple pens for different colours.

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